One hundred and fifty-three years after her death, Julia Pastrana remains an enigma, a woman obscured by history and as mythologized as a flamed-out rock star. Yet the biographical details that can be pieced together offer a disturbing and fascinating portrait that spans the globe and weaves through a long-gone world where extreme disability was a kind of highly profitable commodity.
In life, Pastrana was a freak show celebrity. In death, she became a symbol of colonial-era exploitation and its aftermath. This is the story of her long journey home.