Transnational Desires
241 pages

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Migrant sex workers are commonly cast as victims, moved by desperation to flee poverty and hopelessness in their home country. The Brazilian erotic dancers Suzana Maia presents in Transnational Desires, however, are women from the Brazilian middle classsome of them welleducated professionalswho migrated to the United States not just to better themselves economically but also to realize their personal dreams.

Their motivation to migrate and to work as erotic dancers can also be understood in the context of a representational system, inaugurated in colonial times, that emphasizes the exoticism of Brazilian womentheir bodies, their skin tone, their sexuality. These stereotypes are the props that Brazilian women use to construct their performances in Manhattan and Queens gentlemen's bars and the language through which they negotiate their relationships to society at large.

Transnational Desires focuses on the lives of nine Brazilian dancers with whom the author, herself a middleclass Brazilian, developed close relationships over the years. Maia examines their social relations both in the bar scene and with family, friends, and lovers outside. She shows that for these women erotic dancing is part of a life trajectory that involves negotiating their social position and life prospects in a fundamentally transnational social universe.



Publié par
Date de parution 15 mai 2012
Nombre de lectures 0
EAN13 9780826518248
Langue English
Poids de l'ouvrage 1 Mo

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Suzana Maia
transnational desires Brazilian Erotic Dancers in New York
Transnational Desires
Transnational Desires Brazilian Erotic Dancers in New York Suzana Maia
Vanderbilt University Press N A S H V I L L E
©  by Vanderbilt University Press Nasville, Tennessee 7 All rigts reserved First printing 
his book is printed on acid-free paper. Manufactured in te United States of America
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Maia, Suzana. Transnational desires : Brazilian erotic dancers in New York / Suzana Maia. p. cm. Includes bibliograpical references and index. ISBN 978--86-8-4 (clot : alk. paper) ISBN 978--86-8- (pbk. : alk. paper) . Stripteasers—Brazil—Case studies. . Stripteasers—New York (State)—New York—Case studies. . Brazilians— New York (State)—New York—Social conditions—Case studies. 4. Women immigrants—New York (State)—New York—Social conditions—Case studies. . Sex-oriented businesses—New York (State)—New York—Case studies. 6. Women—Brazil—Case studies. 7. Women—Identity— Case studies. 8. Women—Sexual beavior—Case studies. I. Title. PN949.S7.M4  .4'7978—dc 8
 Acknowledgments vii  Introduction 1  The Women: In Transit 17
Part I. Brazil, the Antipostcard  1 MiddleClass Trajectories 31  2 Representing the Nation: Class, Race, and Sexuality 45
Part II. The Bar Scene  3 Hierarchies of Bars and Bodies 59  4 Performing Seduction and National Identity 76  5 Women and Clients 102
Part III. Beyond the Bar Scene  6 Ambivalent Relationships 123  7 Transnational Ties 152  8 Expanding Networks 172
 Conclusion:  Spaces of Betweenness 189
 Notes 203  Bibliography 213  Index 223
I would like, first of all, to express my gratitude to te women wo participated in tis project and wo sared teir lives wit me over te years. I greatly appreciate our friendsip and teir trust in me, and I can only say tat I did my best to onor teir experiences. Unfortunately, as it goes in most researc, I must avoid tanking eac of tem by name so as to not reveal teir identities.  At te Graduate Center, CUNY, te support and mentorsip of Ida Susser, Sirley Lindenbaum, and Vincent Crapanzano were of crucial importance. Over te years Ida Susser as been a constant source of encouragement, and from er I learned tat differences in ideas and approaces can be not only a source of inspiration but also te basis for creative scolarsip. Sirley Lindenbaum’s insigts and entusiasm for my attempts to create new forms of representation were a constantly refresing support. I tank Vincent Crapanzano for encouraging me to generate new questions for recurring issues and for insisting tat I dwell on wat is not yet known. I am also tankful to Nicole Constable for er generous reading, comments, and suggestions. Also at te Graduate Center, I wis to tank my colleagues, particularly Jimmy Weir, Esin Egit, Cris Lawrence, and Susan Falls. Participation in a number of Brazilian immigration seminars elped me build my researc, and I am particularly grateful to Cileine de Lourenço and Maxine Margolis for teir invaluable insigts and suggestions. For discussions on ow to reconcile te vicissitudes of personal and academic life, I wis to tank Nancy Flowers and Susan Besse. In Brazil, Maria Rosário de Carvalo, my mentor since undergraduate scool, as been a constant source of inspiration. Her trajectory as
Transnational Desires
taugt me, since early on, tat intellectual curiosity and creativity do not ave to be separated from etical and political concerns.  his work was made possible tanks to a generous fellowsip from CAPES, Brazil. I was also fortunate to be granted a CUNY Writing across te Curriculum fellowsip, wic supported my fieldwork in New York as I developed educational tools and got to know more of New York City’s “oter minorities” in Caribbean Brooklyn.  My work would not be te same witout te intellectual and emotional support of my transnational friends: Ana Dumas, Elisabet Senra de Oliveira, Luise Pedroso Kipler, hiago Szmrecsányi, Natália Campos, Jon Messenger, Susanna Monty, Selmo Norte, Mário Vieira, Micael Gordon, Antony Sloan, and Myriam Marques. In New York, David and Edit Mendelson, as well as Margaret Smit and er family, made me feel as if I were at ome. I am particularly indebted to Eliana Moreira and Rita Carvalo for accompanying me in an enterprise tat proved to take longer tan expected. Wit tem it was easier to persevere wit joy and laugter. For giving me te necessary pus to complete te last stages of my writing in Brazil and for elping me to move on, I am tankful to my sister Silmara Maia and to Lucas Peixoto.  My deepest tanks go to my parents, Vavá Maia and Rut Augusta Moura Maia, for teir unquestioning trust and support over te years tat I ave been living between ere and tere, for understanding te difficulties of making life-canging decisions, and for accepting my confusion. Wit Steve Himes, I learned tat it is all part of life, and so we ave to proceed wit patience and love.
During te years  and , I often left my ouse in Brooklyn to meet wit one of te dancers I knew, and togeter we would eiter take a van to bars or simply walk to te ones near teir omes. I ad been liv-ing in New York since 99, but it was not until  tat I first visited Astoria, in te boroug of Queens, were tere is a large concentration of Brazilians. Around tis time I learned about Brazilian go-go danc-ers.1 It was wit esitation tat I first visited a go-go bar just around te corner from a friend’s ouse in Astoria. Wat I most remember from tis first visit was te doppelgänger feeling of familiarity and strange-ness tat often accompanies experiences of displacement. My friend and I spoke Portuguese to eac oter, and wen dancers came to us to pick up our dollar bills, we also spoke to tem in Portuguese. In my first visits to bars, I was startled to ear Brazilian Portuguese spoken wit suc frequency. In te years tat I visited gentlemen’s bars, par-ticularly in te boroug of Queens, most of te dancers were Brazilian, wit women from Colombia te second most frequent. At first, I was just curious about ow tey exibited teir bodies and te life on te edge I imagined tem to inabit. Or rater, I was seduced by tese.  At tat time, I ad received a scolarsip from Brazil in order to study Brazilian women in New York, but te project was still not de-fined. From existing researc, I knew tat a number of Brazilian women, like oter migrant women, worked as nannies, babysitters, waitresses, or ousecleaners. I ad just finised my master’s tesis on Brazilians wo worked as artists’ models in New York, and I was inter-ested in te intersection between nationality and representations of te body. I worked as a model myself for four years, and it was intriguing
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