SG - Making Faces

What makes up a face? Tonight, we delve into the wondrous scientific practice of facial reconstruction. That might be a racialization practice. What if making faces is also making race?

Organised by Studium Generale, Studium Generale

Tue 2 November 2021 20:00

Venue Impulse, building number 115

About Making Faces

What makes up a face? And how do you make it? Facial reconstruction is and has been an important practice in archaeology, forensics and scientific communication. Tonight, philosopher of life sciences and physical anthropology Abigail Nieves Delgado will introduce us into this intriguing scientific practice by explaining to us how experts acquire and execute the ability to read and differentiate faces. This is a tricky business: based on her qualitative research, Nieves Delgado discusses how these scientific practices of face reconstruction might also be racialization practices. After all: how do you decide upon limited information what this or that face actually looked like, for instance, what skin color it has or had? How are (implicit) biases about race and ethnicity at play here? What if making a face is also making race?

About Abigail Nieves Delgado

Abigail Nieves Delgado is Assistant Professor in History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences at the Freudenthal Institute at Utrecht University. She is also team member in the GEOS (Global Epistemologies and Ontologies) project at Wageningen University, and fellow of the research group ROTO (The Return of the Organism in the Biosciences: Theoretical, Historical and Social Dimensions) at Ruhr University Bochum. In 2016, she completed her PhD in philosophy of science at the National Autonomous University of Mexico with a thesis entitled The dominion of the face: a critical and historical analysis of the study of the human face. Her research focuses on the history and philosophy of the life sciences and physical anthropology, specifically on racialization practices in the history of science, in contemporary biomedical research and biometric technologies. Currently, she investigates the politics of transdisciplinary knowledge production and the history of ethnobiology in Latin America.

About series ‘Communicating Faces’

Human beings are incredibly skilled at facial recognition and communication, empathizing with each other through the face. In fact, we are so attuned to faces, we see them everywhere - even in inanimate objects. But usually, we are not very aware of this body part of ourselves. Until COVID-19. More than ever, we had to focus on other people’s faces and interpret their facial expressions, mediated through our screens. More than ever, we were confronted with our own face, and the way it looks, moves, and feels. In this series we invite you to explore together the meaning and relevance of the face. How can we best understand our communicating faces? What is it that our faces tell us about who we are, what we do and how we relate to each other? And what role do (implicit) sociocultural norms and biases - think of race or gender - play in making up our face?