The Biopolitics of Beauty: Cosmetic Citizenship and Affective Capital in Brazil

Colloquium | October 9 | 4-5:30 p.m. | 2538 Channing (Inst. for the Study of Societal Issues), Wildavsky Conference Room

 Alvaro Jarrín, Assistant Professor of Anthropology, College of the Holy Cross

 Center for Ethnographic Research, Center for Latin American Studies

Beauty is considered a basic health right in Brazil, and plastic surgery is offered to working-class patients in public hospitals in exchange for becoming experimental subjects. This talk will trace the biopolitical concern with beauty to Brazilian eugenics and will explore the raciology of beauty that allowed plastic surgeons to gain the backing of the State. For patients, beauty has become affectively linked to citizenship and national belonging, and it becomes a form of capital that maps onto and intensifies the race, class and gender hierarchies of Brazilian society. It is by examining the interplay between biopolitics and affect, therefore, that one can understand how beauty becomes a visceral reaction to oneself and others.

 issi@berkeley.edu, 5106420813