The University of Massachusetts Amherst


CASEC Seminar | Dr. Alka Menon

Wednesday, October 13, 2021 - 11:15am

Guest Speaker: Alka Menon, Assistant Professor of Sociology. Yale University.

Wednesday, October 13th, 11:15am – 12:15pm, in Thompson 919.

This event will be hybrid (in-person and over Zoom). Further, we will have a maximum of 18 persons in the room, due to COVID precautions. Participants who would like to join us in-person are encouraged to arrive on time.

Dr. Alka Menon: “Crafting Race: Global Cosmetic Surgery and the Art and Science of Standardizing Race.”

How do cosmetic surgeons decide what racial categories should look like, and how is this process affected by transnational clinical and economic exchange? Focusing on the role of cosmetic surgeons as gatekeepers to and producers of desired appearances, I argue that cosmetic surgeons reshape race—literally, on patients’ body but also at the level of broader culture. In addition to measuring, organizing and reporting racial difference, the craft of cosmetic surgery preserves and elaborates racial difference as a form of art. This talk illuminates how physicians produce and stabilize racial categories and hierarchies through a comparison of cosmetic surgery in two multiethnic countries, the U.S. and Malaysia. It draws on over 90 interviews with cosmetic surgeons, patients, and medical device vendors, observation of cosmetic surgery professional meetings on two continents, and observations of cosmetic surgery consultations between doctors and patients.

Please note that this speaker event and associated meetings are on University of Massachusetts Amherst campus. In compliance with UMass protocols for Covid-19, all faculty, staff, students, and guests (including our speaker) are expected to wear masks while attending the event and indoor meetings, and all UMass faculty, staff, and students must be vaccinated if not granted an exemption by the university. Our speaker has also confirmed she is fully vaccinated.

For additional information and to get the link to attend, please contact Aida Villanueva.