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The Body in Brazil: Race, Representation, Ontologies

Women, Gender, And Sexuality Studies 319A - Spring 2020

This course is an introduction to various ways of understanding, representing, and performing the body in Brazil. Course materials will draw on insights from anthropology, the medical humanities, and Science and Technology Studies, in order to approach the body not just as biological material but also in its social, cultural, and spiritual dimensions. We will cover topics such as the importance of race and ethnicity since the time of colonization, sexualized media representations of gendered bodies, how some bodies are cast as disposable or "out of place" in contexts of social inequality, indigenous ways of viewing the body in relation to the natural and spiritual world, the politics of disability and access, and constructions of the "body politic" in the formation of national identity through ideas such as "antropofagia" (cultural cannabalism). Throughout, we will pay particular attention to how race, gender, sexuality, and disability shape the lived experiences of Brazilians. Topics will include; the impact of slavery in the construction of the body in Brazil, the role played by race in the construction of discourses of corporality, the development of beauty stereotypes and practices such as the medical industry of plastic surgery, among others. Students will analyze visual materials, ethnographies, historical texts, and internet sources in dialogue with critical theories from the social sciences and humanities, assessing how the body "matters" in a variety of ways--reflecting Brazil's cultural diversity while also starkly highlighting its persistent racialized and gendered social inequities. These materials will form the basis of our class discussions and written assignments. The course will be taught in English. Prerequisite: L45 165D, L45 304, or another course on Latin America suggested.

Section 01

The Body in Brazil: Race, Representation, Ontologies
INSTRUCTOR: Williamson
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