The Eye of the Beholder: Julia Pastrana’s Long Journey Home explores the life of Julia Pastrana (1834–1860), an indigenous woman born in Sinaloa, Mexico. She was a gifted singer, musician, and dancer who could converse in English, Spanish, and French. From birth, Pastrana’s face and body were covered with thick hair, and her jaw was disproportionately large, all due to hypertrichosis terminalis. Throughout much of her life her manager and husband Theodore Lent supervised Pastrana’s tours through North America and Europe, billing her as “the ugliest woman in the world.” Nonetheless, audiences found her affable and intelligent (though she met with very contradictory reactions). After her death, her embalmed body continued to be exhibited for more than a century, until it disappeared from public view into the Schreiner Collection in the Department of Anatomy at the University of Oslo.
In 2003 visual artist Laura Anderson Barbata learned of Julia Pastrana’s extraordinary history and set out to repatriate and bury her remains. Pastrana’s story highlights deeply relevant human issues related to science and racism, the nature of attraction and exploitation, indigenous rights, memory, and cultural sensitivity. The Eye of the Beholder: Julia Pastrana’s Long Journey Home brings together contributors from a wide variety of fields to explore these and other issues, providing the fullest account available of Pastrana’s remarkable life. Generously illustrated with photographs, historical documents, and contemporary artworks, this fascinating, informative, and poignant book will captivate readers and scholars for generations to come.
With essays by Laura Anderson Barbata, Jan Bondeson, Rosemarie Garland-Thomson, Grant H. Kester, Bess Lovejoy, and Nicholas Márquez-Grant
- Cloth hardcover
- 200 pages, 7.2 × 9.8 × 1 inch
- 50 color images