Oral Presentation Session
Reviewed by: Society for Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology
Of interest to: Practicing and Applied Anthropologists, Students
Primary Theme: Inequality
Secondary Theme: Citizenship
This panel examines how aesthetics, widely conceived as cultural engagements with notions of the “beautiful,” crafts boundaries between bodies, spaces and objects to distinguish the Self from the Other. In Brazil, we argue, aesthetics are central to political and social imaginaries that enable different ways of being in the world, and beauty is closely linked to aspirational desires for upward mobility and to forms of “cosmic citizenship” (Taussig 2012). Nonetheless, the ways that aesthetics intersects with race, class, gender and nation usually reinforces divisions within the body politic, and social actors deploy notions of beauty and ugliness to delimit who belongs within a group, which bodies can aim for social recognition, and what spaces or objects have architectural or artistic value. By examining the cultural work that seeks to produce the “beautiful,” as well as the cultural work that seeks to destabilize or challenge normative notions of the “beautiful,” we aim to explore how aesthetics can become a political act, and how it is linked to forms of democratic participation and/or forms of violence within the nation.