Kiana Nicole Nadonza
Grant TypeDissertation Fieldwork Grant
Institutional AffiliationOregon, U. of
Grant numberGr. 10334
Approve DateApril 13, 2022
Project TitleNadonza, Kiana (Oregon, U. of) "Crowning Community: the cultural politics of beauty pageantry in the postcolonial Philippines"
In a country that comprises over 7,600 islands, 187 languages, and a wide range of ethnolinguistic groups that are further diversified by 381 years of colonial influence which varied by region, beauty pageantry persists as a unifying practice through which Filipino citizens produce kapwa (shared identity). Pageants are held in every barangay (local district), thereby amounting to at least 42,046 local pageants every year. Internationally, the Philippines has amassed 15 crown titles, 95 major placements in the ‘Big Four’ competitions, and both the longest and quickest winning streaks in world history. My research investigates beauty pageantry as a critical site for understanding national identity, community-building, political economy, and the cultural politics of beauty in the Philippines. Considering pageantry’s introduction during Spanish and American colonization, how has it proliferated as a cultural practice since the country’s independence in 1946? What conditions have contributed to success in the international arena? Through a multi-sited ethnography that follows the trajectory of pageant season from local to international levels in Metro Manila, Bulacan, and Batangas, my dissertation contributes to an emerging field of anthropological inquiry that considers the cultural magnitude of beauty pageantry within non-Western spaces as well as growing public interest in beauty discourse.