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Sex Tourism in Bahia

Sex Tourism in Bahia: Ambiguous Entanglements

Copyright Date: 2013
Pages: 248
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  • Book Info
    Sex Tourism in Bahia
    Book Description:

    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. 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.

    eISBN: 978-0-252-09519-1
    Subjects: Sociology, Anthropology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xiii)
  4. [Map]
    (pp. xiv-xiv)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-17)

    One day while attending a weekly meeting of the Association of Prostitutes of Bahia (Aprosba), I met Pérola,¹ a black Brazilian woman in her mid-thirties. Wearing a white miniskirt and red tank top, she sat next to a woman she referred to as her wife, a muscular, masculine woman with cornrows. After the meeting, I accompanied Pérola to distribute condoms to sex workers in the bars and brothels of Cidade Baixa (Lower City), near where she lived. During the day, Pérola sold drinks and food in her one-room house, and at night, she went to Barra beach to solicitgringo...

  6. CHAPTER ONE Geographies of Blackness: Tourism and the Erotics of Black Culture in Salvador
    (pp. 18-43)

    Walking toward Pelourinho from the bus stop, one passes by an area with fountains and several benches. At any hour of the day or night, dozens of women—black, white, mixed, young, old, thin, and overweight—always sit idly on the benches. Before delving into this research, I did not know who they were or why they were there. In the summer of 2005, I was taking an Afro-Brazilian dance class in Pelourinho twice a week at 6:30 P.M. On days when I was meeting Luana, a Bahian acquaintance, before the class to tutor her in English, I would wait...

  7. CHAPTER TWO Racial Hierarchies of Desire and the Specter of Sex Tourism
    (pp. 44-63)

    I met Becky, a twenty-nine-year-old schoolteacher from Portland, Oregon, at the bus stop in Barra when I saw acaçador(hunter) flirting with her. A blond, blue-eyed American woman, she looked visibly annoyed and uninterested. When the Praça da Sé bus came, she sat next to me, so we started a conversation. On her third trip to Bahia, Becky was renting a two-bedroom apartment in Barra with eight other people for a weeklong capoeira event. Before she left Portland, some of Becky’s friends joked that she “would come back with a husband.” “People thought I would have a harem,” she...

  8. CHAPTER THREE Working-Class Kings in Paradise: Coming to Terms with Sex Tourism
    (pp. 64-82)

    In Pelourinho, there is a graffiti image of an old, overweight, bald, and bearded European man standing with his arms stretched wide. Wearing a yellow shirt and green shorts (the colors of the Brazilian flag), he holds the Italian flag in one hand and gives the thumbs-up sign with the other. A banner over his head reads, “Benvenuti a Salvador” (Welcome to Salvador), and a comment bubble features his greeting: “Ciao!” That the character is Italian is significant because Italians are ubiquitous in discourses of sex tourism in Salvador, where the termItalianhas become synonymous withsex tourist. More...

  9. CHAPTER FOUR Tourist Tales and Erotic Adventures
    (pp. 83-96)

    In the summer of 2005, I interviewed Joe, a twenty-eight-year-old white public school teacher from New York City. We met at a party in a working-class neighborhood, Vasco da Gama. Certain cues suggested to me that he was American: his pale skin, his style of dress, his hip-hop-inflected dance movements, and his expression of sheer ecstasy at being at a crowded, sweaty, party with a live band and very few foreigners. When I approached him to strike up a conversation, I discovered that he was, in fact, American. He was very friendly and gregarious as we discussed what had brought...

  10. CHAPTER FIVE Aprosba: The Politics of Race, Sexual Labor, and Identification
    (pp. 97-125)

    In November 2006, I was invited to attend my first meeting of the Association of Prostitutes of Bahia (Aprosba). When I walked into the group’s small headquarters, located near the Praça da Sé bus stop, I encountered a group of seventeen women and three small children. As soon as I entered, Fabiana, the group’s cofounder and lead organizer, stood up and greeted me with a warm smile and the customary two kisses on each cheek. A white Brazilian woman in her early forties from the state of Paraíba, Fabiana allowed me to introduce myself and discuss my research with the...

  11. CHAPTER SIX Se Valorizando (Valuing Oneself): Ambiguity, Exploitation, and Cosmopolitanism
    (pp. 126-140)

    A 2005 Brazilian film set in Salvador,Cidade Baixa(Lower City), presents a scenario of the interactions between Brazilian sex workers and foreign ship workers in this touristscape. The two male protagonists, Deco (played by Wagner Moura) and Naldinha (Lázaro Ramos), offered Karinna (Alice Braga), a young sex worker, a ride to Salvador. While the expectation of sex is not explicitly discussed, Karinna ends up having sex with both Deco and Naldinha while en route to Salvador. Once they arrive, Deco and Naldinha agree to use their boat to take a group of sex workers to a large ship that...

  12. CHAPTER SEVEN Moral Panics: Sex Tourism, Trafficking, and the Limits of Transnational Mobility
    (pp. 141-158)

    Pérola, a black sex worker whom I met at Aprosba, once told me a story that made me think about the possibilities of transnational mobility for Brazilian women who sell sex. Pérola showed me a picture of Ivete, a brown-skinned sex worker in her late thirties or early forties who had just come back from a month in Germany.¹ Ivete had gone to visit agringowhom she met in Salvador, returning to share news, pictures, and stories about her positive experiences abroad. Experiences such as Ivete’s story offer a significant contrast to sensationalist news media accounts that depict any...

  13. Conclusion. The Specter of Sex Tourism in a Globalized World
    (pp. 159-168)

    I met Suelí, a nineteen-year-oldmorena, in the summer of 2005 through Nathan, her fifty-year-old American expatriate boyfriend.¹ At the time of our interview, she had been dating Nathan for six months. Born and raised in a poor neighborhood on the outskirts of Salvador, Suelí had recently moved into Nathan’s apartment in the beachfront neighborhood of Barra. She met Nathan while working there at a pizzeria, where she had also met men from France, Norway, Germany, and other countries. Suelí bragged about her exposure to and experiences with people of different cultures, saying that she preferred foreigners because “they treat...

  14. Notes
    (pp. 169-178)
  15. Bibliography
    (pp. 179-200)
  16. Index
    (pp. 201-208)
  17. Back Matter
    (pp. 209-210)