Beauty is considered a basic health right in Brazil, and plastic surgery is offered to working-class patients in public hospitals in exchange for their role as experimental subjects. This talk will trace the biopolitical concern with beauty to Brazilian eugenics and will explore how racialized ideas of beauty allowed plastic surgeons to gain the backing of the government. For patients, beauty is linked to a sense of citizenship and national belonging and becomes a form of capital that maps onto and intensifies race, class, and gender hierarchies in Brazilian society. By examining the interplay between biopolitics and affect, one can understand how beauty becomes a visceral reaction to oneself and others.
Alvaro Jarrín is an Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts.
Co-sponsored by the Center for Latin American Studies and the Center for Ethnographic Research.