Triumphant miscegenation: reflections on beauty and race in Brazil

Alexander Edmonds

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)


In Brazil racial mixture, mestiçagem, has been a dominant theme in the political and cultural re-imagination of the nation in the twentieth century. This paper approaches the role of mixture in Brazilian social life from the angle of aesthetics, looking both at Brazilian intellectual history and the commercial and medical beauty industry. It first discusses the aesthetics of race in the works of Brazilian scholar Gilberto Freyre. Second, drawing on ethnographic fieldwork, it shows how cultural constructions of race are reflected in the clinical practice of plastic surgery. Analysing cosmetic practices illuminates central tensions in the ideal of mestiçagem, but also reveals it as a distinct logic of race and beauty that contrasts with multiculturalism. As the beauty industry expands in the developing world, such cultural logics may not be erased but rather incited.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)83-97
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Intercultural Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2007


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