Sex Tourism in Bahia: Ambiguous Entanglements

Posted in Anthropology, Books, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive, Monographs, Social Science on 2014-02-12 08:58Z by Steven

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.

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Blonde Beauties and Black Booties: Racial Hierarchies in Brazil

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Media Archive, Social Science, Women on 2011-08-23 00:52Z by Steven

Blonde Beauties and Black Booties: Racial Hierarchies in Brazil

Ms. Magazine Blog

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

Model scouts strategically target towns in Southern Brazil to “find the right genetic cocktail of German and Italian ancestry, perhaps with some Russian or other Slavic blood thrown in,” explains Alexei Barrionuevo in a recentNew York Times article, “Off Runway, Brazilian Beauty Goes Beyond Blonde. The fact that a European standard of beauty still dominates the modeling industry should come as no surprise. But why go to Brazil in search of models with European features instead of going directly to Europe? This racial preference is deeply connected to Brazil’s complex history of race relations.

In the early 20th century, Brazil embarked on a national project of embranquecimento–whitening. Influenced by European scientific racism, state officials wanted to “breed the [black] blood out” of the national population. To do so, they encouraged Europeans to settle and hopefully, intermarry with the descendants of enslaved Africans. Despite this attempt to “dilute” the black population, many have upheld Brazil as a “racial democracy” where harmonious race relations and intermixing reined supreme, and where racism is not an issue…

…Walk to any newsstand in Salvador da Bahia and you will find dozens of postcards that use images of black women scantily clad in bikinis to “sell” the area to the rest of the world. This is nothing new. The figure of the mulata, or mixed-race woman of African descent, has long been represented in Brazilian popular culture as the epitome of sexiness. Exported abroad as early as the 1970s in Oswaldo Sargentelli’s world tour of samba shows featuring mulata women, now the term has become synonymous with “prostitute” for many European men who travel to Brazil for sex…

Read the entire article here.

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