Sex Tourism in Bahia: Ambiguous Entanglements

Sex Tourism in Bahia: Ambiguous Entanglements

University of Illinois Press
December 2013
224 pages
1 map
6 x 9 in
Cloth ISBN: 978-0-252-03793-1
Paper ISBN: 978-0-252-07944-3

Erica Lorraine Williams, Assistant Professor of Anthropology
Spelman College, Atlanta, Georgia

Winner of the National Women’s Studies Association/University of Illinois Press First Book Prize

How sexism, racism, and socio-economic inequality interact in the Brazilian sex industry

Brazil has the largest economy of any Latin American country with a population five times greater than any other South American country, and for nearly a decade, Brazil has surpassed Thailand as the world’s premier sex tourism destination. As the first full-length ethnography of sex tourism in Brazil, this pioneering study treats sex tourism as a complex and multidimensional phenomenon that involves a range of activities and erotic connections, from sex work to romantic transnational relationships. Erica Lorraine Williams explores sex tourism in the Brazilian state of Bahia from the perspectives of foreign tourists, tourism industry workers, sex workers who engage in liaisons with foreigners, and Afro-Brazilian men and women who contend with foreigners’ stereotypical assumptions about their licentiousness.

In her analysis, Williams argues that the cultural and sexual economies of tourism are inextricably linked in the Bahian capital city of Salvador’s tourism industry. She shows how the Bahian state strategically exploits the touristic desire for exotic culture by appropriating an eroticized blackness and commodifying the Afro-Brazilian culture in order to sell Bahia to foreign travelers. Drawing on eighteen months of ethnographic research and in-depth interviews, Sex Tourism in Bahia: Ambiguous Entanglements combines historical, sociological, anthropological, cultural studies, and feminist perspectives to demonstrate how sexism, racism, and socio-economic inequality interact in the context of tourism in Bahia.

Tags: , , , ,