Genevieve Alva Clutario

Jan 25, 2024

Beauty Regimes

A History of Power and Modern Empire in the Philippines, 1898-1941

Duke University Press 2023

Beauty is often dismissed as superfluous and frivolous cultural consumption. In her book, Beauty Regimes: A History of Power and Modern Empire in the Philippines, 1898-1941 (Duke UP, 2023), Genevieve Clutario asks the readers, "what can we gain by taking beauty seriously?" (3) What does it tell us about national identity formation and intimate connections between overlapping empires? Bringing together sartorial styles and women's labor by critically engaging with archival documents ranging from colonial government reports to photograph collections, memoirs, and women’s magazines, Clutario shows how “colonial subjects, like Filipinas, were not only impacted by [nation-building] but also actively shaped [these] ventures within and beyond national borders” (14). Furthermore, her work highlights how the embroidery industry, public schools, and colonial prison systems mobilized the racial idea of dexterous fingers and modernization to discipline Filipina women. However, the imperial rule was contested by Flipina women, as the Manila Carnival Queen contests became a site of negotiating US imperialism through national identity formation. Beauty Regimes is an important read for anyone who is interested in gender, continuities between empires, labor, and critical engagement with the archives.

Genevieve Clutario is associate professor of American Studies at Wellesley College and the author of Beauty Regimes: A History of Power and Modern Empire in the Philippines, 1898 - 1941 (Duke University Press, 2023). She is a recipient of the Duke University Press Scholars of Color First Book Award and the Weatherhead East Asian Institute at Columbia University First Book Award. Her other publications include “Pageant Politics: Tensions of Power, Empire, and Nationalism in Manila Carnival Queen Contests,” in Gendering the Trans-Pacific World (Brill Press, 2017) and “World War II and the Promise of Normalcy: Filipina Lives Under Two Empires” in Beyond the Edge of the Nation: Transimperial Histories with a U.S. Angle (Duke University Press, 2020). She is currently pursuing a new project called Power and Allure: Gender, Authoritarianism, and the Promise of Development with interests on topics such as the Cold War, international development, U.S. imperialism, and the making of the Global South.

Da In Ann Choi is a PhD student at UCLA in the Gender Studies department. Her research interests include care labor and migration, reproductive justice, social movement, citizenship theory, and critical empire studies. She can be reached at dainachoi@g.ucla.edu.

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Ann Choi

Da In Ann Choi is a PhD student at UCLA in the Gender Studies department. Her research interests include care labor and migration, reproductive justice, social movement, citizenship theory, and critical empire studies. She can be reached at dainachoi@g.ucla.edu.

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