Institute of Advanced Studies (IAS)


IAS Book Launch: 'Race Is Everything'

10 October 2023, 6:00 pm–8:00 pm

Cover of the book

Celebrating David Bindman's latest book 'Race Is Everything': Art and Human Difference

This event is free.

Event Information

Open to

All | UCL staff | UCL students






Institute of Advanced Studies


IAS Common Ground, G11
Ground floor, Wilkins building
United Kingdom

Race Is Everything’ explores the spurious but influential ideas of so-called racial science in the nineteenth and the first half of the twentieth centuries, and how art was affected by it. David Bindman looks at race in general, but with particular concentration on attitudes toward and representations of people of African and Jewish descent. He argues that behind all racial ideas of the period lies the belief that outward appearance—and especially skull shape, as studied in the pseudoscience of phrenology—can be correlated with inner character and intelligence, and that these could be used to create a seemingly scientific hierarchy of races.

The book considers many aspects of these beliefs, including the skull as a racial marker; ancient Egypt as a precedent for Southern slavery; Darwin, race, and aesthetics; the purported “Mediterranean race”; the visual aspects of eugenics; and the racial politics of Emil Nolde.

For the book launch, the author, David Bindman, will respond to a panel discussion with Richard Taws (UCL History of Art), Brigid von Preussen (Christ Church Oxford) and Catherine Hall (Emeritus Professor of History, UCL). The discussion will be chaired by Tamar Garb (UCL History of Art).

About the Speaker

David Bindman

Emeritus Durning-Lawrence Professor of the History of Art at University College London

David Bindman was Durning-Lawrence Professor of the History of Art and taught courses mainly on British eighteenth century and European Romantic art, specialising in caricature and the history of printmaking, and questions of national and racial identity. He was educated at Oxford, Harvard and London universities and has taught frequently in the US. He has written several books and articles on William Hogarth and William Blake, and on the British response to the French Revolution, and on the sculptors Roubiliac and Flaxman.