The Body Perfect: On Disability, Experience and the Aesthetics of Expertise.


  • Julia Sauma Goldsmiths, University of London



This is a provocation. It does not aim for a seamless narrative. The erudition and argument that create narrative smoothness are identified, here, as indexes of the aesthetic values that define Brazilian and British academic training, values that I would like to unpack. Specifically, the suppression of those experiences perceived as less than perfect is what concerns me. Through my experiences as a Deaf anthropologist, I reflect on the relation between aesthetic values, a powerful need to maintain “the body perfect” and, consequently, labour separate from personal experience in Brazilian and British universities. By reflecting on how “the body perfect” emerges through a protection of whiteness, I also hope to begin to explore the relation between racism and ableism that infuses academic aesthetics of expertise. In doing so, my provocation contributes to opening up spaces where reimagining diversity can actually take place in the academy.