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Title:Manners of distinction: nineteenth century urban imaginings, performances and bodies of affect in Havana, Cuba
Author(s):Eguez Guevara, Pilar
Director of Research:Torres, Arlene
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Torres, Arlene
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Moodie, Ellen; Inda, Jonathan; Manalansan, Martin F.
Department / Program:Anthropology
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):the body
19th century
good manners
cultural history
the senses
the ornate
books of conduct
pedagogies of the body
colonial mimicry
public sphere
cultural citizenship.
Abstract:This dissertation offers an anthropological interpretation of cultural discourses about the body found in literature, visual narratives and archival sources throughout 19th century in Spanish colonial Havana. These discourses show a pressing concern with the “manners” of bodies, the ways they moved, how they occupied space, and how they managed sensations and emotions to negotiate power and prestige in the highly stratified Havana’s society. Concerns for the manners of the body became the discursive domain of the rising planter and intellectual elite of Cuban creoles. They often expressed these concerns in normalizing terms such as “good manners,” “good taste,” and “tone.” I argue that these and other highly embodied, interlocking moral, sensory, affective and aesthetic categories such as nobility, respect or “sabor” became focal indexes of the social status of individuals in colonial society. I interpret discourses of “manners” as signs of an epochal shift in Cuba’s systems of social differentiation, giving rise to a different cultural order framed upon new and transformed moral and aesthetic regimes of the body during the century of Cuba’s transition away from colonial and into modern political economic structures. I situate the emergence of two racialized creole or Cuban born urban classes, a native white bourgeoisie and a native free bourgeoisie of color, in the political and ideological context of the sugar agro-industrial capitalism’s expansion since the early 19th century. I examine their role in engineering new technologies of distinction and the crafting of a highly dramatic and sensitive bourgeois “body proper.” I examine how this distinctive 19th century normative body shed its colonial robes made of blood and genealogy, to assume a new, modern, highly accessorized, sensitive and dramatic social skin. I identify urban reform and manuals of conduct as two important pedagogical instruments created to shape the bourgeois “body proper” and its multiple oppositional racialized, classed and gendered abject bodies and subjects. Three major inter related ideologies—costumbrismo, urbanity and the ornate—underpinned these pedagogies. I tease out the discursive practices in academic and historical narratives creating different Cuban bodies in the making, from the bourgeois good mannered Europeanized petimetre, to its racial counterpart the out-of-place bourgeois mulato. I expose the historiographical constructions of these effeminate male bodies in contrast to the masculinized dangerous black body of the economically ambitious “political” elite, which obscured bodies of entrepreneurial women of color. I discuss the preeminent interpellations of the black female body in historical and scholarly narratives in her sexualized facet. The overwhelming narrative presence of the sexualized black female body created a historiographic silence around the bodies of elite and marginal white women, and the material sites of practice where female respectability was negotiated, including promenades, carriages, streets and smoking habits. Finally, I demonstrate that black mimic bodies were also models and designers of molds for white bodies revealing their malleability, and the fluidity of their interfacial limits.
Issue Date:2013-08-22
Rights Information:Copyright 2013 Pilar A. Egüez Guevara
Date Available in IDEALS:2013-08-22
Date Deposited:2013-08

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