This study of the aesthetics of the mulatez focuses on reifying sexualising representations, pervasive visual registers and the perspectives of women who call themselves mulata. The narrative reiterated of the appeal of the sensual Cuban mulata, dangerous because she is 'almost white', is explored as an antiphon with contradictory functions: on the one hand, being a warning against attempts to racially contaminate the dominant order of blancura and masculinity; on the other hand, being a metaphor for the possibility of the rupture of this same order and of a liberal ethos, claiming new forms of citizenship within colonial society. The author concentrates on the habitus of an ostentatious vanity: a tactic of making oneself visible in order to guarantee one's existence in the slave system of forces through the irruption of beauty. Mulier ludens, the mulata must negotiate her own subjectivity with the oppressive weight of a visuality that fixes her as available and passive: woman of sugar, made from the cane cultivated by her black slave ancestors, sweet, to be eaten. What do women describing themselves as mulatas make of this bitter history? How is beauty being 'made' in Havana today? Narratives of menear - the body technique of hips -, of the aesthetic practices of caring for the frizzy hair disparagingly called 'pasa' and of the quality of 'sandunga' reveal beauty as a doing rather than a being; a performative style critical of the tragic and passive representational tradition of the mulata built into the colony's system of forces.
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