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Department of Sociology


Event - Politics of Beauty

Summer School

Date: Tue 30 August – Fri 2 September 2016
Department of Sociology, University of Cambridge, Free School Lane, Cambridge CB2 3RQ 
Downing College, University of Cambridge, Regent Street, Cambridge, CB2 1DQ

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International Conference

Date: Fri 2 September – Sat 3 September 2016
Location: Mill Lane Lecture Rooms, 1 Mill Lane, Cambridge, CB2

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This summer school and international conference aim to engage with the politics of beauty and their ramifications. Since the 1970s social movements have been stimulating a wealth of studies on beauty as a racist, classist, ableist, colorist, lookist, sizeist, ageist, and (cis and hetero)sexist regime of representation. Recent research has focused on beauty as a practice or rather as incessant “body work” in neoliberal times – working out, body-building, make-overs, cosmetic surgery, shopping, dieting, etc. –, and its oppressive, discriminatory effects.

Despite this invaluable work in describing and analysing such practices, some pertinent questions remain opaque and understudied. How does beauty culture (re)produce and/or stand in tension to discourses of gender, class, race, ethnicity, skin colour, and colonialism? How is beauty productive? What does it produce? What are people’s affective, social, economic, and global investments in beauty? Why does the desire to prescribe beauty standards persist? How to analytically grasp the pleasure of doing body work? What different media strategies are used to programmatically present, transmit and disperse beauty concepts? Crucially, what is beauty doing in helping us understand lived experience and temporalities, language and representation, media images, and physicality? In other words, how to grasp the politics of beauty as forming intersectional selves, corporations, nations and global discourses?

Confirmed Speakers (in alphabetical order)

  • Christine Checinska | University of Johannesburg VIAD, SA & Goldsmiths College, UK
  • Diane Negra | University College Dublin, IR
  • Dominique Grisard | University of Basel & Swiss Center for Social Research, Switzerland
  • Francis Ray White | University of Westminster, UK
  • Jackie Sanchez Taylor | University of Leicester, UK
  • Joy Gregory | Slade School of Fine Art, UK
  • Marcia Ochoa | UC Santa Cruz, USA
  • Margrit Vogt | Europa-University Flensburg, Germany
  • Meeta Rani Jha | University of Winchester, UK
  • Meredith Jones | Brunel University, UK
  • Mimi Thi Nguyen | University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA
  • Mónica Moreno Figueroa |  University of Cambridge, UK
  • Ng’endo Mukii | Independent artist, Nairobi
  • Paula Villa |  LMU Munich, Germany
  • Rosalind Gill | City University London, UK
  • Rosemarie Garland-Thomson | Emory University, USA
  • Sarah Banet-Weiser | USC Annenberg, USA
  • Shirley Tate | University of Leeds, UK


This Summer School and Conference are made possible by the generous support of the Swiss Center for Social Research, the Centre of Latin American Studies, the Centre for Gender Studies, Downing College and the Department of Sociology of the University of Cambridge.

Image credit: © Ng’endo Mukii


Tuesday, 30 August, 2016 - 00:00 to Saturday, 3 September, 2016 - 00:00
Contact name: 
Dr Mónica Moreno Figueroa
Event location: 
Seminar Room - Department of Sociology, and Downing College, University of Cambridge

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