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Of Beasts and Beauty

Gender, Race, and Identity in Colombia

By Michael Edward Stanfield

Publication Year: 2013

Here is a detailed investigation of the concept of beauty in Colombia—its cultural and political origins, its expression through fashion and pageants, and its effect on the people of a country plagued by violence, inequality, and corruption.

Published by: University of Texas Press


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pp. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. iii-v


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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-x

This book sprang from a creative impulse that then required the assistance and support of dedicated professionals and dear friends in both Colombia and the United States. In Bogotá, friends and colleagues Augusto Gómez and Angelina Araújo graciously shared their time, expertise, and personal insights on beauty and Colombia. Former students María José Perry, Santiago Perry, ...

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pp. 1-11

This book chronicles the social, cultural, and political importance of feminine beauty in Colombiaone.super from 1845 to 1985. Colombians have valued beauty in women throughout their history, as have peoples around the globe for thou-sands of years. Beauty, then, is a powerful cultural mirror through which his-torians can view the evolution of societies and nations. The serious analysis of ...

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1. Setting

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pp. 13-30

Colombia is a peculiar and beautiful country. Its coasts on both the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean—an advantage unique in South America—give it favorable access to the world and its trade, but Colombian port cities are re-mote and hard to reach for the vast interior population. Three verdant moun-tain ranges highlight the nation’s Andean character and provide a home for ...

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2. “La mujer reina pero no gobierna,” 1845–1885

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pp. 31-60

The four decades following 1845 witnessed the formation of Colombia’s two dominant political parties, the Liberals and the Conservatives, an opening to the international economy, and a greater familiarity with foreign fashion. The slowly growing population was still strongly rural and self-sufficient, but urban elites increasingly imaged the nation’s future around white and His-...

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3. Bicycle Race, 1885–1914

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pp. 61-72

Colombian political leaders failed to bring either the liberty fervently pursued by Radical Liberals or the order cherished by Conservatives in the transi-tion from the nineteenth to the twentieth century. The Radical Liberals lost control of the presidency to Independent Liberal Rafael Núñez, who forged working relationships with Conservatives after 1880. The beast of partisan ...

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4. Apparent Modernity, 1914–1929

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pp. 73-89

Historical context orients our sense of the past even given the complications of overlapping but often contradictory layers of regional, national, and inter-national events. Internationally, 1914 marked the arrival of twentieth- century material modernity but also the horror of industrial and pathological World War I. The 1920s heralded a spectacular decade of industrial productivity and ...

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5. Liberal Beauty, 1930–1948

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pp. 90-105

The year 1930 marked an economic and political turning point for Colombia as it did for much of the world. The financial and industrial meltdown of the Great Depression lowered prices for Colombian exports, decreased govern-ment revenues, and dried up foreign loans. In the context of this economic shock, the half- century Conservative hold on the presidency ended as the ...

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6. Exclusive Beasts, 1948–1958

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pp. 106-127

Between 550 and 2,600 Colombians died countrywide in the violence sparked by Gaitán’s murder.one.super The day after his death, Liberals agreed to reenter a coalition government with Conservatives, a position they maintained for the next year until Congress was closed in 1949. As Conservatives asserted their power, Liberals were purged from institutions like the judiciary and the ...

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7. From Miss Universe to the Anti-Reina, 1958–1968

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pp. 128-156

The decade between Luz Marina’s victory and the year that rocked much of the world contained a number of important transitions. The end of the Rojas Pinilla dictatorship and the implementation of the National Front system signaled a return to civilian government but also the continuation of an ex-clusionary democratic system. The partisan quality of La Violencia faded, ...

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8. Static Government, Social Evolution, 1968–1979

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pp. 157-179

The cultural threads of 1960s freedom and expression dropped into the early 1970s with hippies, marijuana, and nonconformity adding to the tumult of rapidly expanding large cities. By the early 1970s, Colombians became more cynical about the National Front and about the Concurso Nacional de Belleza in Cartagena, both seen as elite fixes rooted in the past. By mid- decade, the ...

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9. Pulchritude, the Palacio, and Power, 1979–1985

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pp. 180-210

The nation’s economy outperformed the Colombian political system during this last period under review, repeating the pattern witnessed thirty years earlier during La Violencia. High coffee prices bolstered by expanding pro-duction of petroleum, natural gas, nickel, coal, bananas, emeralds, marijuana, and cocaine kept the economy growing while much of Latin America entered ...

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Conclusion and Epilogue to 2011

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pp. 211-233

Looking backward from the tumultuous events of November 1985, one can appreciate how and why beauty has served as a marker for Colombian iden-tity and modernity over the last two centuries. From the long colonial period, elite Colombians and foreigners maintained a preference for the white beauty ideal, one with a strong Spanish national identification. As fashions from ...


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pp. 235-259

Selected Bibliography

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pp. 261-269


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pp. 271-280

E-ISBN-13: 9780292745599
E-ISBN-10: 0292745591
Print-ISBN-13: 9780292745582
Print-ISBN-10: 0292745583

Page Count: 292
Illustrations: 33 photos, 1 map, 3 tables
Publication Year: 2013

OCLC Number: 852159198
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Of Beasts and Beauty

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Feminine beauty (Aesthetics) -- Columbia -- History.
  • Beauty contests -- Colombia -- History.
  • Women -- Colombia -- History.
  • Nationalism -- Colombia -- History.
  • Colombia -- History -- 1810-.
  • Colombia -- Social conditions.
  • Colombia -- Politics and government.
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