Alexander Edmonds Receives 2013 Basker Prize

Through the next few weeks SMA will share photos and recaps from our December 2013 annual meeting, highlighting award recipients. Our first feature is on the Eileen Basker Memorial Prize, awarded annually for a significant contribution to scholarship on gender and health.

This year’s Basker Prize Committee was delighted to award the 2013 Basker Prize to Alexander Edmonds for his book Pretty Modern: Beauty, Sex, and Plastic Surgery in Brazil (Duke, 2010).

Basker Prize recipient Alexander Edmonds with (l-r) Virginia Dominguez, Doug Feldman (SMA Past-President) and Sarah Willen.

Edmonds’ beautifully crafted ethnography explores how a stunningly diverse array of Brazilians find in plastica (plastic surgery) a way of renegotiating their place in the world and claiming what has effectively become codified in Brazil as a “right to beauty” – a “right” that meets with the full endorsement of the biomedical establishment for a fascinating set of historical and cultural reasons that Edmonds enumerates. Deliberately inviting the question of false consciousness, Edmonds’ keen ethnographic sensibility reveals both the tantalizing appeal and mundane presence of plastica – as fantasy or fantasy-imbued reality – for Brazilian citizens, ranging from elite socialites, to chicken pastry vendors, to the physicians whose extensive expertise enables them to train a specialized cadre of global plastic surgeons while skating the thin line between reparadora and estetica. The committee enjoyed reading the book tremendously and encourages SMA members to do the same. Congratulations, Alex.

The Basker Prize Committee also conferred an Honorable Mention upon Kimberly Theidon’s book Intimate Enemies: Violence and Reconciliation in Peru (Penn Press, 2013). Congratulations, Kimberly.

Honorable mention recipient Kimberly Theidon with (l-r) Virginia Dominguez, Doug Feldman and Sarah Willen.

The Basker Prize Committee includes Sarah Willen (University of Connecticut; Chair), Virginia Dominguez (University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign) and Simon Craddock Lee (University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center).