Erica Lorraine Williams
How sexism, racism, and socio-economic inequality interact in the Brazilian sex industry
Brazil has the largest national economy in Latin America and 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. 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 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 socioeconomic inequality interact in the context of tourism in Bahia.
“This ambitious, fascinating ethnography clearly articulates how sex tourism in Bahia, Brazil, depends on the sexualized and racialized bodies of people of African descent. Erica Lorraine Williams makes a significant contribution by examining how sex tourism is both a racial and sexual project and how race is central to the commodification of culture.”–Amalia L. Cabezas, author of Economies of Desire: Sex and Tourism in Cuba and the Dominican Republic
Erica Lorraine Williams is an assistant professor of anthropology at Spelman College. http://faculty.spelman.edu/ericawilliams/