CAS Lecture Series: Beauty Diplomacy: Embodying an Emerging Nation

Event time: 
Wednesday, March 30, 2022 - 4:30pm to 6:00pm
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Event description: 

Beauty pageants are big business in Nigeria. They are transformed by multiple stakeholders into contested vehicles for promoting complex ideas about gender and power, ethnicity and belonging, and a rapidly changing articulation of Nigerian nationhood. Drawing from fourteen months of ethnographic fieldwork, this talk examines how Nigerian beauty competitions use a tactic I call beauty diplomacy to redeem Nigeria’s poor global reputation. The industry positions beauty contestants - young, upwardly mobile, and ambitious women - as the aesthetic center of an ethnically diverse nation and the public face of a country on the economic rise. Beauty queens are trained and deployed to forge relationships between businessmen and politicians, embody attributes that reflect positively on the country, and cultivate new elevated lifestyles that signal their ascending trajectories. These shifts connect femininity, nation, and beauty to global state politics.

Kemi Balogun, Associate Professor, Women's Gender & Sexuality Studies, University of Oregon