The Politics of Beauty: Discourses and Intersections in the Global Sphere

Summer School and International Conference

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):

  • Diane Negra, University College Dublin, Ireland
  • 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
  • Mimi Thi Nguyen, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA
  • Mónica Moreno Figueroa, University of Cambridge, UK
  • Ng’endo Mukii, Independent Filmmaker, Nairobi, Kenya
  • 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


Full programme download here: The Politics of Beauty Conference Programme


Summer School : Tuesday, August 30th, 2016 – Friday, September 2nd, 2016

International Conference: Friday, September 2nd, 2016 – Saturday, September 3rd, 2016


Summer School: Department of Sociology, University of Cambridge, Free School Lane, Cambridge CB2 3RQ and Downing College, University of Cambridge, Regent Street, Cambridge, CB2 1DQ

International Conference: Mill Lane Lecture Rooms, 1 Mill Lane, Cambridge, CB2


Please follow the link on the Payment & Registration tab above

Read more here: When beauty matters: the politics of how we look