This blog showcases students’ final portfolio work for the LAS323/GSS 322 Beauty, Body and Race in Latin America course which ran in Spring 2012 in the Program of Latin American Studies at Princeton University.

These nine short pieces are a result of each student’s interests in contemporary popular culture set in dialogue with the course themes within the Latin American context or relating to Latin American populations elsewhere. Overall, the course considered the notion of ‘beauty’ as a concept that struggles with the realm of the visible in the construction of both personal and national identities, and the problems this raises for the racialized body. Practices and concerns around beauty are by no means trivial, and we explored what they reveal: the depth of racial and racist attitudes and their consequences for the performance of national identity, femininity and masculinity, and the sense of self-worth. So what you will find here is the product of our reflections on these ideas and on their impact and materialization in the racialized bodies of Latin Americans. Our analyses of beauty will hopefully raise alternative ways of approaching women’s and men’s experiences in contemporary postcolonial societies.


Mónica G. Moreno Figueroa

Dr. Mónica G. Moreno Figueroa, a Visiting Fellow in the Program of Latin American Studies for the 2012 Spring term, is currently completing a book on the experience of racism in Mexico. She is Assistant Professor in Sociology at Newcastle University, United Kingdom where she teaches courses on ‘race’ and racism, and the sociology of emotions. She also contributes to Newcastle’s MA in Latin American Interdisciplinary Studies, and since 2008 to the postgraduate Gender Summer Course at Colegio de México. Moreno Figueroa’s research and publications centre around three main topics: whiteness, mestizaje, and the lived experience of ‘race’ and racism; the interconnections between beauty, emotions, visibility and racism; and visual methodologies, interdisciplinarity and applied research collaborations. For more information and contact details see: http://www.ncl.ac.uk/gps/staff/profile/monica.moreno-figueroa


A selection of Moreno Figueroa’s publications relating to the course topics include:

Moreno Figueroa, M. G. (2013) ‘Displaced Looks: on being beautiful, ordinary, ugly or insignificant. The lived experience of beauty and racism in Mexico’. Feminist Theory, 14(2). Forthcoming.

Moreno Figueroa, M. G. (2012) ‘Linda Morenita: Skin Colour, Beauty and the Politics of Mestizaje in Mexico’ in Horrocks, C. (ed) Cultures of Colour: Visual, Material, Textual, Oxford and New York: Berghahn Books, pp. 167-180.

Coleman, Rebecca and Moreno Figueroa, M. G. (2010) ‘Past and Future Perfect? Beauty, Affect and Hope’, Journal for Cultural Research 14(4), 357 – 373.

Moreno Figueroa, M. G. (2008) ‘Historically Rooted Transnationalism: Slightedness and the Experience of Racism in Mexican Families’, Journal of Intercultural Studies, 29(3), 283-297.

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