Putting a “good face on the nation”: Beauty, memes, and the gendered rebranding of global Colombianidad

Cepeda, M. E. (2018). Putting a “good face on the nation”: Beauty, memes, and the gendered rebranding of global Colombianidad. WSQ: Women’s Studies Quarterly, 46(1–2), 121–138.

Link: https://doi.org/10.1353/wsq.2018.0005

Open access: Yes

Notes: In this article, Cepeda discusses the social media campaign “It is Colombia, not Columbia” (#ICNC). This campaign is an estate-sponsored effort to promote a new brand of Colombia to overcome associations with armed conflict and violence. In sum, she outlines two overlaying arguments. First, she notes how these campaigns make use of a whitened gendered body to be at the center of the message, arguing that “the nation’s primary export product now is its women” (p.125). Second, #ICNC (like many other national campaigns) relies on affective labour to promote its messages, as people distribute the nation-sponsored message due to the connections to their own identity. As noted by the author, “ICNC emerges as the clear product of a strategic neoliberal deployment of affect, as the campaign’s success largely lies in its reliance on playbour” (p. 132). Overall, this article illustrates how, as a country aims to distance itself from narratives of violence through online campaigns, it replicates and expands violence around labour and gender.

Abstract: Via the discursive analysis of various memes, this essay interrogates the linkages between global Colombianidad and beauty in the #ItsColombiaNOTColumbia (#ICNC) social media campaign, and examines the centrality of Colombians’ digital labor in the production and circulation of media texts. It argues that in its efforts to contest the masculinist violence and political corruption permeating global scripts about Colombia, the #ICNC campaign ultimately reinforces the symbolic and material violence that has been waged against racialized, gendered bodies since the colonial era.

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