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Gringo love : affect, power, and mobility in sex tourism, Northeast Brazil Carrier-Moisan, Marie-Eve 2012

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GRINGO LOVE: AFFECT, POWER, AND MOBILITY IN SEX TOURISM, NORTHEAST BRAZIL  by  MARIE-EVE CARRIER-MOISAN  M.A., Concordia University, 2005       A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF  DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY  in  THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES (Anthropology)       THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA (Vancouver)    April 2012     © Marie-Eve Carrier-Moisan 2012   ii Abstract  My dissertation is a feminist ethnography of global sex tourism in Ponta Negra, a tourist area in the coastal city of Natal, Northeast of Brazil that has become the site of important forms of mobilization against sex tourism. It critically examines the ambiguous relationships of love and money between (white) western male tourists and (mixed-race or black) Brazilian women. My methods for the project (conducted 2007-2008) focused on in-depth interviews with Brazilian women, European men, and various stakeholders such as business owners, residents, Non-governmental organization (NGO) workers, feminist activists and state agents; I also conducted participant-observation in bars and at beaches. I theoretically situate these global ‘sex tourism’ relationships within contemporary political economic structures, historical processes of inequality in Brazil, gendered patterns of mobility and affect, as well as sites of global desire A major theme in my thesis concerns the politics of the rescue industry as articulated by Brazilian NGOs and through campaigns against sex tourism, which typically locate the problem of sex tourism in the individual (i.e. women as victims; foreign men as deviants). This approach fails to address the complex structural inequalities and global forces that shape the lives of these women, and negates several important aspects of Brazilian women’s and foreign men’s experiences. My research shows that both are invested in ambiguous intimacies that blur affect and interest in complex ways. My main argument in the thesis is that Brazilian women in Natal capitalize on the ambiguities of sex tourism and put their femininity to work in order to establish long- term, legitimate ties with foreigners in the hope of migrating to Europe and marrying up,  iii something they find hard to imagine, much less experience, in Brazil. The appeal for foreigners further reveals a profound sense of dissatisfaction with their social locations. Thus, love with foreigners acts as both an escape and a catalyst to remake themselves as modern subjects in projects of mobility, whether social, spatial or economic.  iv Preface  The ethics review for this research was approved by the University of British Columbia, Vancouver (certificate number H09-03261).   v  Table of Contents  Abstract .............................................................................................................................. ii Preface ............................................................................................................................... iv Table of Contents .............................................................................................................. v List of Figures .................................................................................................................. vii Glossary .......................................................................................................................... viii Acknowledgements .......................................................................................................... xi Dedication ....................................................................................................................... xvi Introduction ....................................................................................................................... 1 From “Sex Work” to the Ambiguous Nature of Sex Tourism ................................ 4 Affect, Gender and Mobility ................................................................................... 8 Spatializing Ponta Negra ....................................................................................... 11 Overview of the Dissertation ................................................................................ 15 Chapter 1: Natal, the City of Pleasure .......................................................................... 20 Brazil Imagined: Tropical Eden on Earth ............................................................. 20 Thinking Race in Brazil and Natal ........................................................................ 25 Tourism Developments in Tropical Northeast Brazil ........................................... 28 atal: A City of Pleasure ......................................................................................... 30 Methodology ......................................................................................................... 37 Chapter 2: Between Namoro and Programa: Sex Tourism in Ponta Negra .............. 60 The Troubles with “Sex Tourism” ........................................................................ 61 Blurring Heterosexual Male Sex Tourism ............................................................ 65 Thinking the Blur of Affect and Money in Sex Tourism ...................................... 70 Spatial Ambiguity in Ponta Negra ........................................................................ 74 Ambiguous Intimacies: Private and Public Labours of Love ............................... 83 “I Fall in Love Every Time” ................................................................................. 88 Ambiguities and Exploitation ............................................................................... 94 Conclusion .......................................................................................................... 112 Chapter 3: “Doing good for Women?”: A Geography and Genealogy of the Campaigns against Sex Tourism in Natal ................................................................... 113 The Genealogy of Sex Tourism as a Social Problem in Brazil ........................... 116 The Campaigns against Sex Tourism in Natal .................................................... 130 Doing Good for Women? Feminisms and the Campaigns against Sex Tourism 144 Spatial Tensions in the City of Pleasure ............................................................. 150 Conclusion .......................................................................................................... 160 Chapter 4: ‘Gringo, but not Macho’: Intimate Others, (Paid) Sex and the Conquest ......................................................................................................................................... 163 The Fetish of the Gringo ..................................................................................... 166 Brazilian Women as ‘Glorified Sex Fetishes’ ..................................................... 178 Tensions in Paradise: The Search for Authenticity with Intimate Others ........... 187 (Paid) Sex and the Conquest ............................................................................... 199 Conclusion .......................................................................................................... 209  vi Chapter 5: “I’m (not) a Garota de Programa”: Of (Dis)reputability, (Dis)Identification and Distinction .............................................................................. 211 Tropical Femininity and Respectability: an impossibility? ................................ 218 Negotiating the ‘Whore Stigma’ in Ponta Negra ................................................ 222 (Dis)Identifications and Respectability ............................................................... 228 Putting Femininity to Work in Ponta Negra ....................................................... 240 Larissa: Escaping one’s Biography ..................................................................... 247 Conclusion .......................................................................................................... 251 Chapter 6: In The Name of Love: The Role of Affect in Brazilian Women’s Transnational Mobility ................................................................................................. 253 The Political Economy of Love in the Northeast of Brazil ................................. 259 Ana’s Strategic Intimacies: “Para ver se Posso Melhorar de Vida” ................... 265 Júlia’s Strategic Intimacies: Gringo Love as Salvation ...................................... 273 Leila: Love Hurts ................................................................................................ 282 Sair dessa Vida .................................................................................................... 291 Conclusion ..................................................................................................................... 294 Sex Tourism as Material and Discursive Practice............................................... 296 Sex Tourism as Sair dessa Vida .......................................................................... 299 Brazilian Women on the Move for Love ............................................................ 302 Sex Tourism in Natal: Old Patterns Anew and Uncertain Futures ..................... 306 Bibliography .................................................................................................................. 309 Appendix A: Interviews Data ...................................................................................... 331    vii List of Figures  Figure 1: Map of Rio Grande do Norte ............................................................................. 29 Figure 2: The City of Natal (with a view of Ponta Negra, located south) ........................ 32 Figure 3:The Beach of Ponta Negra, with a view on the Morro do Careca  .................... 33 Figure 4: Image of Ponta Negra by the Morro do Careca ................................................ 40 Figure 5: A meeting point for foreign men and Brazilian women .................................... 77 Figure 6: The Big White Penis Public Act against sex tourism in Natal ........................ 113 Figure 7: Ad from the City Campaign: "It won't protect you against shame" ................ 139 Figure 8: Ad from the City Campaign: "Blushing or tanning?" ..................................... 140 Figure 9: Ad from the City Campaign: "If you're here after sex tourism…)  ................. 141 Figure 10: The Entry of Restaurant in Ponta Negra ....................................................... 156 Figure 11: Enlarged Section of Figure 11 ....................................................................... 157   viii Glossary  Portuguese     English Ajuda      Help Amar   To love Apaixonado(a)   In love Assumir    To assume Barracas     Improvised kiosks Branco(a)    White Brasileiro(a)    Brazilian man/woman Cafuzo     Colloquially refers to ‘cheap’ men Cavalheiro    Gentleman Colegas     Peers Companhia    Company (also used in the sense of escort) De graça    Free of charge Discoteca    Disco/Nightclub Embranquecimento   Whitening Essa Vida    This life Estrangeiro(s)    Male Foreigner(s) Experto(a)     Skilfull; smart Exploração    Exploitation Favela     Shantytown Fazer Amor    To make love Filha/fihlinha de papai  Daddy’s girl  ix Fora     Outside Garota(s) de programa  Prostitutes/escorts Garota(s)    Diminutive of garota(s)de programa; means girl Gostar     To like Gringo(a)    Foreign man/woman Là     There Lesbica    Lesbian Melhorar de vida   To improve one’s life Morenidade    Brownness Moreno(a)    Brown Mulata Mulatto woman; a polysemic category mostly referring to women of mixed origin, including African descent. Mudar de Vida   To change one’s life Namoro                                              Courtship Namorado(s)                                      Boyfriend(s) Namorar    To court, to date Negro(a)    Black Necessidade     Necessity Nessa vida    In this life Paquerar     To Flirt Patroa     Boss, employer Pousada    Guesthouse  x Praça     Central place Profissional do sexo   Sex worker Precisar    To need Programa(s)    Explicit arrangement(s) to exchange sex for money Prostituição    Prostitution Prostituta(s)    Prostitute(s) Puta(s)    Whore(s) Real (reais)    Brazilian currency Roça     Fields Sair dessa vida    To escape this life, to get out of this life Telenovelas    Soap operas Travesti(s) Literally transvestites; the term used to refer to male-to-female transsexuals Turismo sexual                                   Sex Tourism Vergonha    Shame Vício     Addiction, vice  xi Acknowledgements  Writing my dissertation has been a more challenging project than I could have ever anticipated. Indeed, my PhD began with a sudden loss – the death of my mother – and was punctuated by it, as well as by other obstacles along the way. I am not sure whether I would have completed this project without the emotional, intellectual, institutional, and financial support of countless individuals and institutions. I would like to acknowledge this support here, but my words cannot express fully the extent of my gratitude, or do justice to the tremendous help I was given. This project originated, to some degree, with my first encounter with anthropology, while an undergraduate student at Concordia University.  It is there that I met Sally Cole, my ‘anthropological mother’, who truly ‘birthed’ me into anthropology. Sally hired me as a research assistant and introduced me to Brazil, gender, and feminist anthropology. She even brought me to work with her and conduct fieldwork in the Northeast of Brazil, an experience that deeply changed me and rooted in me the desire to pursue anthropology; I cannot thank her enough for that. Her trust and mentorship have profoundly shaped my trajectory, and to this day, Sally remains an inspiring role model in my life. Minha companheira, thank you for bringing me on this path along with you. At the University of British Columbia, I have received enormous support from faculty, staff and students in the Department of Anthropology and I would like to express my sincere thanks to all of those who have helped me in one way or another. I am deeply grateful to my supervisor, Alexia Bloch, for her trust, inspiration, and guidance all along my doctoral studies. When in doubt while crafting my research project, she offered sound advices and trusted the decisions I made. Alexia read, edited, and commented upon several rough drafts of this dissertation, offering invaluable feedback, providing intellectual challenges, and making sure to keep me on the right track when necessary. Beyond the dissertation, she mentored me in countless ways, from grant writing to publishing to applying for jobs.  I am greatly indebted to her for helping me lending a tenure-track position in Anthropology at Carleton University while still an ‘ABD’. My heartfelt thanks to you Alexia, for your fabulous mentorship and trust, and for believing in my potential to accomplish this project and much more. My committee members, Gastón Gordillo and Becki Ross, were strong pillars and constant source of inspiration at all stages of my doctoral studies. I am deeply thankful to Gastón for the critical insights, intellectual stimulation and thorough engagement with my doctoral work, as well as for constantly pushing me to think further! Muchísimas gracias Gastón por toda su ayuda! Becki’s commitment to a critical feminist sociology profoundly influenced me and shaped this dissertation in countless ways. I want to thank her for her intellectual rigor, for her careful, meticulous and engaged reading of my dissertation, for her invaluable and inspiring comments, as well as for the fabulous opportunity to teach in Women’s and Gender Studies. My warmest thanks to you Becki, I have learned so much while working with you! I would like to extend my gratitude to Jennifer Chun and Alejandra Bronfman, the university examiners, and to Sealing Cheng, the external examiner, who all engaged so productively with my work, offering their clever critics and inspiring comments. I will certainly carry their insights beyond the confined of this project. Special thanks to John Barker who kindly acted as a temporary supervisor during my comprehensive  xii examination, and to Bruce Miller, always eager to exchange with me about Brazil and my doctoral work. I am also grateful to Bill French, Juanita Sundberg, Lynne Phillips and Sally Cole who all have read an early version of Chapter 3 and generously offered critical feedback on it. The research for this dissertation was made possible by generous funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) and from the University of British Columbia (UBC). My sincere gratitude to these institutions, as their financial support allowed me not only to conduct fieldwork in Brazil, but also to imagine and realize this entire project. I also want to express my deepest thanks to the Liu Institute for Global Issues at UBC, which provided me with both institutional and financial support in the form of office space and grants to realize workshops and reading groups. A special thanks to Sally Reay for the institutional support! At the Liu, I would also like to express my thanks to Geraldina Polanco, Sara Koopman, Lara Rosenoff, Pilar Riaño-Alcalá, and Erin Baines for the words of encouragements, helpful tips, and intellectual support. Perhaps the greatest outcomes of the support received from the Liu Institute are the many intellectual communities that have emerged from it; I will for long treasure the rich discussions of the Research Group on Gender and Sexuality in Latin America, especially with Manuela Valle and Oralia Gómez-Ramírez, two bright and inspiring women I truly feel privilege to have meet, and whom I admire for their political views as much as for their intellectual engagement with the world. Manuela, thanks for the fabulous, engaging conversations of the last few years and for all the emotional and intellectual support. Oralia, we have gone through so much together since I began my PhD in 2005, and you were there, for me, in so many ways, both intellectually and emotionally... We have engaged in countless discussions, workshops, talks, conferences, etc., and your insights have made it into this thesis in so many ways! Thanks for being in my life, my dear Oralia, as both a generous friend and a like-minded anthropological companion! To the members of my ‘writing group’ at UBC – Rachel Donkersloot, Robin O’Day and Susan Hicks – my deepest thanks for creating a safe space to share both our writings and our experience with the writing process. It definitely helped to alleviate the sense of isolation and loneliness that comes with writing! Susan, you have been a close intellectual companion during all those years, and I am deeply indebted to you for your insatiable desire to discuss and debate almost anything and everything with me! Thanks for the intellectual and emotional support all along, and for the many critical insights that you so kindly offered throughout my doctoral studies. My sincere thanks to Ana Vivaldi and Rafael Wainer, for their friendship and support during difficult times, and for being such engaged intellectual companions, and thanks to Natalie Baloy for her friendship and for the many momentarily escapes away from my dissertation! A special thanks to Natasha Damiano Paterson who translated segments of interviews from Italian to English. I would also like to thank Julien Henon for his hard work on making the map of Ponta Negra that appears in this dissertation. Julien, milles mercis pour ton aide généreuse et pour cette fabuleuse carte! To all the students in my ANTH 312, ANTH 303B and WMST 425B classes at UBC, thanks for engaging so deeply with my doctoral work and for being so inspiring!  xiii In Natal, I would like to thank the Coletivo Leila Diniz –Ações de Cidadania e Estudos Feministas, for the institutional support provided during the field research that led to this dissertation. In particular, I would like to thank Joluzia Batista and Analba Brazão Teixeira for their kindness, hospitality, friendship and generous assistance in the field. Their feminist work linking theory to praxis – however imperfect or difficult to achieve – is a great source of inspiration. I would also like to thank the Department of Anthropology at the Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Norte for inviting me to present my research findings, and especially Elisete Schwade for the general assistance in Brazil, the intellectual support, the helpful feedback, and the friendship that further developed when she came to live in Vancouver. Special thanks to Adriana Piscitelli, Thaddeus Blanchette, and Ana Paula da Silva for sharing their precious knowledge of Brazil and sex tourism, for the invitation to present my work at workshops they organized in Brazil, and for their insightful comments on excerpts from my doctoral work. My sincere thanks to Lita, my field companion for six weeks in August and September 2007, and with whom I shared many conversations that deeply enriched my fieldwork and this dissertation.  For their friendship and support while in the field, thanks to Flávio, Carol and Lucas, Maria da Lucia and Mácia. I am extremely grateful to all the people and organizations in Natal who have agreed to participate in the research that led to this dissertation and to share with me on a topic fraught with such tensions and stigma.  I hope that I have done justice to your words. And to the Brazilian women depicted in these pages, I am profoundly grateful for your willingness to share with me – a gringa – about your difficult lives. I cannot express enough how much it means to me. My warmest thanks to the women I have called Bebel, Ana, and Laila for welcoming me into their lives with such openness, sincerity, warmth, kindness, and generosity. Over the course of writing my dissertation, many friends outside academia have offered their generous support in countless ways. My warmest thanks to Marie-Claude Asselin and Frederic Amyot. Your insatiable intellectual curiosity blows me away! Thanks for your incredible emotional support, for the innumerable questions asked about my dissertation, and for being such unconditional fans of my work… Merci Marie et Fred d’être dans ma vie, et de m’avoir fait le plus cadeau au moment où j’en avais tellement besoin: être la marraine de votre premier fils, Laurent… Pascale, you are my hero.  I cannot express the extent of my admiration for you, Dr. Hatcher, or say enough of how much it meant to me knowing that you had been there before... Your words of encouragements had more impact that you can ever imagine, for they came from someone who knew the pain and isolation from undertaking such a project. Merci du fond cœur, Pascale, for your constant emotional support throughout the years in spite of the distance. My long time friends in Quebec, les filles, Mélanie Normand, Isabelle Côté, Mathilde Côté, and Karine Blouin, vous êtes comme mes soeurs. You were there, in so many ways, during all these years, despite the distance. It felt great to be able to come back to Quebec and feel ‘at home’ with you. I am lucky to have you all in my life, and to count on such a supportive and loving group of friends –always there, even managing to make a (virtual) appearance at my defence! Du fond du cœur, merci, les filles, d’être dans ma vie. And special thanks to Alexandre Vigneault, who has also been there for me  xiv during these years. Merci pour les milles et une conversations inspirantes qui ont parsemées ces dernières années, et pour ton accueil chaleureux à Montréal! My family took a big blow when my mother died; and being away in Vancouver or in Natal, as well as working intensely on my doctoral research, added to the difficulty. I want to thank my whole family, for their unconditional love and unquestionable trust in my ability to accomplish this project. Their emotional support helped me to carry on at times of hardship. My father, John Moisan, encouraged me to pursue my PhD despite his terrible loss, and reminded me that my mother would have preferred to see me keeping with my path. J’avais besoin de ces mots pour continuer. I would like to thank him, as his resilience and courage are such an inspiration for me. Merci John, d’être si vivant. His wife, Danielle, has had her own battles too, and to see them both living their life to the fullest of possibilities was the best inspiration for my own hardships (even if mine were quite modest in comparison!). Merci Danielle, d’être si vivante aussi, et d’être une si belle présence dans la vie de mon père et dans la mienne. I would like to thank my two brothers, two strong forces in my life, David Carrier-Moisan and Philippe Carrier-Moisan, who have been there for me during all those years in their own distinct ways. David has generously welcomed me into his home during my repeated visits to Quebec City, showed great interest in my doctoral work, and along with his partner, Julie Paquet, and their two daughters, Léa-Maude and Maïka, provided a space to forget about my doctoral work! Un gros merci à David, Julie, Léa- Maude, et Maïka, pour la généreuse hospitalité lors des mes visites répétées, pour tout le soutien  et les douces attentions, pour les milles et un mots d’encouragements… vous avez su, au fil des ans, me distraire, me faire rire, et me faire oublier la lourdeur de ma thèse…  Merci d’être des fans aussi dévoués! Philippe, his partner Annie Moisan, and their son Émile are also avid, devoted fans. They have been, over the last few years, a constant source of regeneration and inspiration, giving me strength to continue with my own challenges. Thanks for the incredible emotional support! Merci Philippe et Annie, pour votre si belle présence dans ma vie. Vous m’inspirez! Je suis tellement choyée d’être si bien accompagnée par vous malgré la distance. Et puis, avec le beau Émile, vous m’avez si souvent  amené à me sauver de ma thèse! Du fond du cœur, un grand merci! I have an extended family of keen supporters who have been, for all those years, encouraging of my projects and unquestionably believing in my capacity to accomplish this task. To Lise Carrier, Pierre Carrier, Jacques Carrier, Claire Labrie, Julie Carrier, Guillaume Ouellet, and Luce Frenette, thank you for the words of encouragement and for welcoming me with so much warmth in your life! Special thanks to Léa-Maude Moisan, my beautiful godchild and niece, who has grown up so much during the time it took me to carry this project to its completion, and who has suffered the most from my departure to Vancouver, which coincided with the loss of her Mémé Jojo. Belle Léa-Maude, je sais que tu as trouvé ça difficile que je parte pour Vancouver.  Je tiens à te remercie d’avoir été si patiente avec moi … Je te dédie cette thèse de doctorat, en signe de mon amour pour toi. Merci d’être dans ma vie, Léa- Maude! Je t’aime! To my late mother Jocelyne Carrier, or Jojo, thanks for letting me pursue my own path and passions. I wish you were here to share this moment with me. I know you would be proud of me. And among all, you would understand the sense of accomplishment that comes with the end of such an endeavour. Thanks for passing onto me your incredible  xv determination. Si j’ai enfin terminé, c’est en partie grâce à toi. Merci de m’avoir encouragé dans mon désir de poursuivre mes études, et d’avoir semé en moi cette soif de justice sociale et de savoir.  I wish you were here to see that in the end, things are working right for me... Merci Jojo! And last but not least, from to deepest of my heart, thanks to my love, my husband, my life companion, William Flynn.  Billy has been an incredible force for almost the entire duration of this project, and I know that I would not have completed my dissertation without him. He’s been there, for me, in so many ways! Billy was in Brazil for parts of my fieldwork, and revealed to be a fabulous field companion and co- researcher. During the last few years, he has heard about my doctoral work countless times and patiently offered his critical reflections and insights. But more than that, Billy has been extremely supportive in the day-to-day writing process, knowing what to say, and how to say it: when overwhelmed with work, he showed tremendous patience; when in doubt, he reassured me; when needing sympathy, he comforted me; when discouraged, he cheered me up, and when in need of some teasing, he playfully and lovingly made fun of me… If I am writing these lines now, having come full circle, it is because Billy is in my life. Thanks, my love! We went through this together, and now, at last, we can have a life without thesis. It feels like my life begins anew, and I am delighted you are on this path with me. Thanks for being in my life, Billy. I am truly lucky to have you as a companion, tu m’apportes tellement! Je t’aime… And thanks to Billy’s daughter, Lauren Kearney, for putting up with the many constraints that writing my dissertation may have had in her life. I hope you’ll join us in Ottawa for this new chapter of our respective lives...  xvi Dedication   To Jojo.  And to Léa-Maude, who bore the weight of this project perhaps more deeply than anyone else.  1 Introduction  It is perhaps the image of mixed-race, 28 year-old Bebel 1  waiting for her flight to Italy in the Northeastern Brazilian city of Natal that best captures the issues I address in this dissertation. Full of expectations and anxieties, she was mostly delighted at the thought of eventually succeeding in her goal: “sair dessa vida2” (to get out of this life). I had met Bebel the previous September (in 2007) in Ponta Negra, a tourist neighbourhood in the city of Natal. She was among the women who had made strategic use of the sex tourist economy to migrate and marry. After entertaining simultaneous transnational relationships, blurring love and money with three different Italian men she met in the bars and beaches of Ponta Negra, Bebel was on her way to Italy to live with (and later marry) one of them. She had achieved what many other women sought – sair dessa vida – something seen attainable only by traveling to a European elsewhere imagined as better than Brazil.  Or is it, after all, the best image? As I write these lines, I also have a flashback from about the same time as I had met Bebel: four researchers in a bar (a male  1  I have opted to use pseudonyms for all my interviewees to protect their identity and preserve anonymity, with the exception of those who spoke to me in their capacity as members of an organization. Thus, I have kept the real names of heads and members of NGOs as well as of the association of sex workers, ASPRO- RN, and the associations of residents and business owners. All other names were changed. While Ponta Negra is a real place and this ethnography an attempt to capture some of its spatial tensions and struggles, I have opted to change the names of the different bars, restaurants, hotels, and other businesses I refer to in order to avoid potential identification of the owners I interviewed. 2  Throughout this dissertation, I have opted to use several words in Portuguese, in order to provide the readers with the original words people used. Translation is an act of transformation, and at times, meaning is lost in the process. Some Portuguese words are particularly difficult to translate or do not have an equivalent in English. Therefore, I decided to include the original words used, and sometimes, to adopt the Portuguese word throughout, such as in the case of the phrase garota de programa because of its lack of any equivalent in English. When using a Portuguese word for the first time, I italicize it and provide the reader with a translation in parenthesis, then I simply use the word in Portuguese, without italicizing it further. All words are listed in the glossary in order to help readers navigate these words further in the dissertation.   2 Portuguese anthropologist, a female Brazilian student assisting him, a female Spanish sociologist and myself, a female anthropologist) observing women like Bebel and the foreign men who had traveled miles away from their home countries to encounter Brazilian women they imagined as “exotic others.” Strange indeed: the foreign men, mainly from Europe, gazing at the Brazilian women and vice versa, while the ethnographers, in turn, gazed at their interactions. This shift from sex object to object of knowledge was particularly notable, since just a few weeks prior to this night, a film crew was also in town, making a documentary film on sex tourism (Araújo 2008). When the film, Cinderelas, Lobos e um Príncipe Encantado (Cinderellas, Wolves, and a Prince Charming) was later released, it was a success and even played at the second Brazilian Film Festival in Vancouver, Canada in July, 2009. I went to see the film there, while I was writing this dissertation, and I recognized many of the women I had myself interviewed or spoken with. Why were there so many of us trying to document sex tourism in Ponta Negra at the same time, I thought? And what would the women themselves think of this global circulation of their images? At about the same time as my encounter with the three other researchers, a well- respected professor argued during a public debate at the Federal Public University of Rio Grande do Norte (UFRN) that the concept of sex tourism was “an invention of the state” and that what was happening in Ponta Negra should be seen as the expression of mutual, consensual sexual desires. This argument stayed with me, as I sought to make sense of the recent shifts in Ponta Negra and the many campaigns opposing sex tourism. Business owners would have certainly found this position laughable, whether they cashed in on sex tourism’s lucrative benefits or vehemently opposed it. Furthermore, the term “sex  3 tourism” was a particularly loaded one in Ponta Negra and everybody had an opinion on the phenomenon that had, according to local residents, transformed their landscape. If it were an invention of the state, why was sex tourism generating such inflamed discussions, polarized debates, rescue missions, and movements of opposition from both state and non-state actors? There are many layers through which sex tourism may be approached and understood. My dissertation is an attempt to navigate the different webs of relationships and articulations that constitute sex tourism, including those that participate in making it an object of knowledge and a site of rescue intervention. In Design for an Anthropology of the Contemporary, the authors propose that what is needed in anthropological writing is not more tales of fieldwork but more tales of research design (Rabinow et al. 2008). They invite anthropologists to reflect more critically not only about the field, but also in terms of research design, that is the conceptualization of the research and the analysis following field research. They also suggest a shift away from studying “people” (e.g. migrant workers) to the study of “attributes” (e.g. work, migration) and invite a consideration of the complex assemblages that participate in the making of these attributes (2008: 77-79). Thus, they argue, since anthropologists have abandoned the project of “writing culture” (i.e. writing about timeless others) and have turned to the study of the contemporary, 3  they need to emphasize the design of their projects, rather than their experiences in the field.  3  As Rees summarizes it, the contemporary refers to the process whereby emergent phenomena are decomposed “into different elements that are assembled into one form constitutive of the phenomenon in question” (Rabinow et al. 2008: 58). And, as he continues, “the task of an anthropology of the contemporary is to choose – or find – an appropriate field site and to document and analyze such assemblages in the course of their emergence, to name them, to show their various effects and affects, and to make them available for thought and critical reflection” (Rabinow et al. 2008: 58).  4 My doctoral work follows their invitation, in that my project is partially motivated by an attempt to understand the attribute that is “sex tourism” in Ponta Negra. One could argue that I trace assemblages, that is the different nodes of power that are connected through sex tourism (Rabinow et al. 2008), especially when I engage various stakeholders and their different relations to sex tourism. Yet in other ways, my approach remains influenced by the tradition of long-term anthropological fieldwork, where the field occupies a central place. In other words, if my approach is predicated upon grasping this attribute called sex tourism, I still find value in seeking to also understand the experiences of those involved in what is called “sex tourism” and thus in studying people. My overall goal in this dissertation is to challenge the mainstream meanings associated with sex tourism and the ways in which the concept is deployed both theoretically and politically. I critically examine sex tourism and its assemblages in both the scholarship concerned with the issue and the activism surrounding its eradication. The organizing principle of this thesis is that the term “sex tourism” as currently used in scholarship and activism fails to capture the complexity of the experiences of those who engage in its practice. In this introduction, I briefly present the theories informing my approach to sex tourism, in an attempt to elucidate the theoretical lenses that guide this ethnographic study of sex tourism in Ponta Negra. The next chapter will provide further insights into the ethnographic context and the methods used to carry out this project.  From “Sex Work” to the Ambiguous Nature of Sex Tourism When I initially designed this project, I imagined it as a follow-up from my previous work in the same region (Carrier-Moisan 2005). In 2004 I conducted six months  5 of fieldwork in the industrial town of Cascavel, in the neighbouring state of Ceará, a town reflecting regional patterns of rapid industrialization and intrastate migration led primarily by women. Migrant women’s narratives pointed to their sense of empowerment following the transition from agricultural work to factory work, as they had achieved what they described as a level of economic independence and decision-making they had not experienced prior to migrating. They often contrasted the hard work in the roça (fields), including the drought and the hunger they had experienced growing up, with their stable wages in the factory. I noticed, however, that there were important generational differences, as these women were, for the most part, in their thirties, forties, or fifties. Young women in their teens or twenties tended to imagine a very different future for themselves; fuelled by images of a global youth in which consumption, money and mobility were central, they identified more strongly as consumers, rather than as workers as their mothers had. Younger women described factory work as slave work, and commented on the meagre wages and exploitative conditions their mothers faced in the factories that employed them. They often aspired to a different life, talking about Cascavel in negative terms and commenting on the lack of possibilities in their hometown. Some of them frequented the beach towns not too distant from Cascavel, hoping to work in the tourism industry, and at times expressed their desire to live in Europe or North America. When I returned for follow-up research a year later, in 2005, I noticed a shift in local discourses about tourism; sex tourism was on everybody’s lips. While there, I read a series of articles in one of the local newspapers on sex tourism in the city of Fortaleza (Diário do Nordeste 2005) and later through Internet research learned about campaigns  6 against sex tourism in the cities of Fortaleza and Natal. I could easily imagine some of the young women I had spoken to in Cascavel as transitioning into sex tourism rather than following the lead of their mothers into factory work. I decided that I would study sex tourism, in line with my previous work on migrant factory workers. Thus, I initially conceptualized the project in terms of labour, and located my study within the richly textured scholarship on sex work that had emerged in the last few decades. I was particularly interested in the efforts of scholars and sex workers who challenge misguided preconceptions about sex work as a pathological activity and who situate sex work as a form of labour that has shifted historically and geographically (e.g. Brock 1998; Delacoste and Alexander 1987; Hubbard 1999; McClintock 1993; Nagle 1997; Ross 2010). This approach to sex work as a form of labour is an important shift away from the polarized victimization/liberation debate and it allows for a consideration of both the processes through which sex workers are subjugated and those through which they exert control. Scholars of sex tourism commonly locate their work within this scholarship, considering global sex work as mediated by global forces of production and consumption (Kempadoo 1998; Wonders and Michalowski 2001). This approach allows “to shift the attention from individual ‘prostitutes’ as social problems to ‘sex tourism’ as a form of global commerce that is transforming sex work, cities and human relationships” (Wonders and Michalowski 2001: 546). Scholars of sex tourism commonly recognize the ambiguity of sex tourism, starting with the early work of Cohen (1986) in Thailand referring to sex tourism as “open-ended prostitution” to Brennan’s discussion of love as “rational process with serious material consequences” (2004: 96) for Dominican female sex workers.  7 When I began the field research that led to this dissertation, I was thus attentive to the ambiguous nature of sex tourism and yet, I was still looking for “sex workers” and considering love as something strategically deployed by sex workers. It became particularly difficult, over the course of my fieldwork, to identify practices as belonging to the realm of “sex work” and to identify with certainty who was and who was not a sex worker, or in the local parlance, a garota de programa. 4  Like Cabezas (2009) in her research on sex tourism in Cuba and the Dominican Republic, I eventually realized that garota de programa is a rather ambiguous, evasive, unstable subject. Intimate encounters between Brazilian women and foreign men exceed the realm of labour and rely deeply on what Cabezas calls “intimate interdependencies” (2009: 10) that cannot be easily characterized as “sex work.” For instance, several garotas de programa had long-term, transnational interactions with foreigners they referred to as their boyfriends but who also sent them remittances; other women who did not identify as garotas de programa blurred material interests in similarly subtle ways. In this dissertation, I connect the scholarship on sex work as a form of labour with the insights of feminist scholars linking the affective to the economic (e.g. Cabezas 2009). The concept of “strategic intimacy” as developed by Alexia Bloch (2011) is particularly useful in grasping the ways that women make strategic use of their intimate ties with foreigners in projects of social and economic mobility. Bloch borrows the concept from Yukseker who uses it to describe the strategic use of flirtation by post-  4  The term garota(s) de programa literally translates as ‘program’s girl(s) but means prostitute(s). It is sometimes translated as ‘escort’ or ‘high class prostitute’ (Rohter 2006). I prefer to use the term garota(s) de programa and its colloquial diminutive, garota(s), in its original language, given that a) it bears a slightly different meaning than prostituta (prostitute) or profissional do sexo (sex worker), b) it does not have an equivalent in English, and c) it was the term most commonly used by the women themselves. I will discuss the ways in which women make distinction between garotas de programa and profissional do sexo in Chapter 5.  8 Soviet women who buy merchandise in Turkey and capitalize on their image as alluring in order to secure good prices from their Turkish male suppliers. Bloch proposes a slightly different interpretation of strategic intimacy, closer to the meanings I intend to convey here. She uses the term to describe the practices of low-income post-Soviet women who are marginalized in Turkey as undocumented labour migrants, and who negotiate various forms of intimacy to secure more than favourable prices. These labour migrants have long-term aims; they seek to secure longer stays in Turkey through forms of intimacy blurring instrumentality and emotion. “These intimacies” Bloch proposes, “can lead to secure housing, permanent residence and substantial benefits for dependents (...) but they can also lead to long-lasting relationships” (2011: 508). This concept is at the core of my discussion in Chapter 6, in which I engage the intimate practices of women courting or marrying foreigners in attempts to secure their future.  Affect, Gender and Mobility My thesis takes up themes central to feminist ethnography more broadly, specifically insights into the intersections of affect, gender, and mobility in a world characterized by intensifying processes of global capitalism, contributing to a growing body of scholarship (e.g. Bloch 2011; Brennan 2004; Cabezas 2009; Cheng 2010; Constable 2003; 2005; 2009; Faier 2007; Frohlick 2009; Patico 2009; Parreñas 2001; Wilson 2004). A significant part of this scholarship has been dedicated to reasserting the agency of women positioned on “the receiving end” of mobility (Massey 1994) and complicates understandings of the working of global power. For instance, Brennan (2004) describes love as a “performance,” while Cheng (2010: 142), drawing on Scott  9 (1985), proposes that love may be a “weapon of the weak.” My thesis expands on these studies, pointing to the ambiguous nature of the intimacies formed in sex tourism and the significance of ‘love’ as a mobilizing force – whether performed, professed, or felt. My interest also lies in understanding love beyond its performative aspects, in order to consider how it operates as a form of affect that, to paraphrase Cheng, mediates, rather than erases, power differentials (2010: 133). I thus hypothesize that intimacy with foreign men on the part of young, mixed-race or black Brazilian women may be a catalyst to express discontent with their social locations and with the forms of power structuring their life (see also Cheng 2010:10; Faier 2007; Schaeffer-Grabiel 2004). I also draw on the work of feminist ethnographers who have documented how women re(make) themselves as modern subjects through transnational love (Constable 2003; Cheng 2010; Schaeffer-Grabiel 2004). Thus, if Brazilian women essentialize Brazilian men as macho and reify foreign men as gentlemen, it is because they are critical of the local patriarchal order and see in foreign men, signs of cultural capital and mobility (Bourdieu 1977; Kelsky 2001). One of the main arguments I seek to make in this dissertation is that Brazilian women in Natal strategically utilize their relationships with tourists as sources of social mobility and capital (both economic and cultural), while also aspiring to form romantic relationships with men they commonly imagine as more ‘civilized’ than local Brazilian men. These women are invested in various forms of affective labour and ambiguous intimacies rooted in projects of mobility, citizenship and capital. “Gringo love” thus refers to a new form of affect that I see as deeply constitutive of women’s experiences in sex tourism. Affect here is not meant to denote what scholars elsewhere discuss as an unmediated and prediscursive form of embodied power (e.g.  10 Massumi 2002; Beasley-Murray 2010). 5  Rather, my engagement with affect derives from a different genealogy of scholarship; I follow the work of feminist scholars who have long engaged with the affective dimension of human experiences, and who have shown how the ‘affective’, including feelings and emotions, is shaped materially, discursively, and through gendered bodies (e.g. Abu-Lughod and Lutz 1990; Bloch in press; Cheng 2010; Cabezas 2009; Hochschild 1983). My purpose in using the term “affect” is to engage with what I see as a collective dimension of women’s affective experiences in sex tourism. Gringo love is thus a particular, historical affective state; it refers to both women’s collective reification of foreigners, and to their widespread narratives and experiences of love with them. Gringo love is thus a new form of affect that is discursive, embodied, and grounded in material relations. I also draw inspiration from the work of Cabezas (2009) and Zelizer (2005), and consider the ways in which spheres that are usually understood as separated come together in sex tourism. In Ponta Negra, there is a blur of affect/money, work/leisure, public/private, authenticity/performance, among other binaries. Feminists have for long problematized the public/private or work/leisure distinction, with their claim that the “personal is political,” and their attention to reproductive, unpaid, undervalued labour (e.g. Ortner 1972). They have also shown that the distinction between marriage and  5  There is an important body of scholarship engaging theoretically with “affect” as a modality of power. In this scholarship, affect is commonly understood as bodily experiences that are not yet coded or as sensations that are not mediated by discourses or narratives (Massumi 2002; Beasley-Murray 2010). Emotion is thus distinguished from affect, as it is seen as discursively produced and representable. Yet, not all agree that affect, as a modality of power in late capitalism, is unmediated, pre-discursive, or forms of experience not yet coded. For instance, Beverley Best argues that rather, affect is “produced by hyper- ritualization – the playing over and over and over again – of certain social and cultural narratives” (2011: 77). It is hyper-signification rather than the absence of discourse or narrative that thus produces affect, as she explains, these “narratives are internalized by individuals to the point where their affective responses to the stories can be solicited with only a fragment or icon of, or a vague reference to, the story in question” (80). Thus, there is no consensus on whether affect is unmediated. In any case, my aim here is not to discuss affect as a new modality of power in late capitalism, but instead to engage the ways in which new forms of affect are constituted in sex tourism.  11 prostitution, or between love and money, is not as entrenched as commonly assumed in Europe and North America (e.g. White 1990; Zelizer 2005). If I am highlighting these binaries, it is because they remain particularly entrenched in Western thought. Indeed, the notion that money corrupts intimacy was central to both foreign men and Brazilian women, as I discuss in Chapter 4 and 5; it is because of their understandings of romantic love as devoid of material interest that both foreign men and Brazilian women sought to reconfigure the money exchanged as a form of ‘help’. And yet, as we shall see, both Brazilian women and foreign men also disrupt these binaries in unique ways.  Spatializing Ponta Negra Anthropologists have also argued that borders and contact zones (Pratt 1992) are simultaneously spaces of exploitation and opportunities, and they have pointed to the ways in which those moving across borders or engaging transnational spaces negotiate and mediate new forms of powers while encountering new prospects (Brennan 2004; Padilla 2007). My dissertation draws inspiration from this scholarship, and especially from feminist anthropologists who have engaged the gendered dimensions of Appadurai’s global ethnoscapes (1990) and produced compelling ethnographies of “sex- scapes” (Brennan 2004) and “marriage-scapes” (Constable 2005) – the suffix ‘scape’ pointing to the fluidity, irregularity, and diversity of newly imagined landscapes resulting from global flows that build on differences in power and inequalities. The issue of love across borders has given rise to an important scholarship examining the imagined geographies of love and the “cartographies of desire” (Manderson and Jolly 1997) that are implicated in the production of global sites of desire.  12 While these scholars recognize the critical importance of economic factors, they point to the equally significant role of the imagination – especially processes that exoticize and eroticize Third world ‘others’ (Kempadoo 1998: 10; Piscitelli 2005).  In her ethnography of sex tourism in the Dominican Republic, Brennan coined the term “sexscape” to refer to a “new kind of global sexual landscape” (2004: 15) drawing on Appadurai’s use of the suffix ‘scape’(1990). In a sexscape, Brennan proposes, “there are differences in power between the buyers (sex tourists) and the sellers (sex workers) that can be based on race, gender, class, and nationality. These differences become eroticized and commodified inequalities” (2004:16). Ponta Negra fits with this image of a sexscape; predominantly mixed-race or black, impoverished, young, Brazilian women engage in commodified sex with predominantly white, European (and few North American) men, wealthy enough to travel to Brazil. Ponta Negra has thus become a global sexual landscape, in Brennan’s sense, where both male desire and female bodies are intensively commodified. Interestingly, in parallel to the emergence of the global sex trade in Ponta Negra’s bars, beaches, and nightclubs, a new transnational marriage market has also emerged. In other words, while Ponta Negra has become a sexscape of sorts (Brennan 2004), it could also be characterized as a marriage-scape (Constable 2005). As Constable (2005: 3-4) proposes: such marriages are especially interesting because they do not represent a global free-for-all in which all combinations – regardless of class, nationality, ethnicity, or gender, for example – are possible. Rather, they form marriage-scapes that are shaped and limited by existing and emerging cultural, social, historical, and political-economic factors.  Drawing on Constable and Brennan, I thus consider Ponta Negra as both a sex-scape and a marriage-scape, and I analyze the global processes that participate in their production.  13 However, it would be rather insufficient to consider this space exclusively in these terms. Ponta Negra is also the site of many spatial tensions. I draw inspiration from anthropologists who consider spaces not as given but as the product of social relations and thus, as constantly in the process of being made and remade (e.g. Gupta and Ferguson 1992; Gordillo 2002; 2004). These scholars have shown that conflicts, contradictions, and political processes participate in the production of place and that it is through spatial practices that these tensions become articulated. In his work on notions of civility and incivility in Brazil, James Holston argues that “inequity persists palpably in Brazilian social relations not only because the privileged insist on maintaining their special treatment rights. It also persists because it continues to structure the embodied habits and spatial practices of everyday life” (2008: 278). Drawing on his insights, I pay attention to both everyday spatial practices and embodied habits that structure Brazilian social relations and that are (re)produced in the context of sex tourism. Prior to the early 2000s, Ponta Negra was a space of middle class leisure; many residents and business owners in the area thus resent the presence of tourists and garotas de programa in what they consider as “their space.” They articulate their opposition through campaigns against sex tourism that are deeply spatialized, practices that I analyze (in Chapter 3) taking inspiration from scholars of sex work attentive to exclusionary spatial practices affecting sex workers and the processes of gentrification that accompany these practices (Hubbard 1999; Ross 2010). Gaston Gordillo proposes that places are always constructed in opposition to other geographies – whether these are real, imagined, or remembered (2004; 2002). This is another lens through which we can grasp Ponta Negra spatially. Gordillo argues that the  14 Toba in the Argentinean Chaco inscribed wealth to their past work in sugar plantations and poverty to their present-day foraging practices in the bush. This is further complicated by the feeling of estrangement that accompanied their memory of the sugar plantations, and the sense of control they experience in their current foraging practices in the bush. Thus, he analyses this process “as the contradictory spatial expressions of a single historical practice” (2002: 4). The women I interviewed spoke about their lives in deeply spatialized terms and used expressions that bespeak the spatiality of their experiences and that reveal the contradictions to which Gordillo alludes. “Sair dessa vida” as discussed more extensively in Chapter 6, was a phrase commonly used by the women I interviewed to talk about the reasons for their engagements with foreigners – whether dating them or going on programa 6  with them. This formulation alludes to a sense of estrangement they experience in their daily lives. Brazilian women commonly imagined a better future as lying elsewhere, là fora (there, outside) in an imagined or remembered Europe they opposed to Brazil. Building on Gordillo’s insights, I consider the ways in which Brazilian women describe both their present-day lives in the bars, nightclubs, and restaurants of Ponta Negra and their imagined future lying in a European elsewhere as part of a single historical practice. Sair dessa vida is thus an expression of both women’s embodied experience of alienation in Ponta Negra and their aspiration to enjoy the fruits of global capitalism in Europe.   6  According to Piscitelli, “the word programas [plural of programa] designates explicit agreements to exchange sexual services for money, including prices, practices and lengths of encounters” (2007: 491).  It is sometimes used interchangeably with prostitução (prostitution) but it also may connote middle class prostitution, including prostitution in nightclubs (Gaspar 1985) or even high-class prostitution  such as escort services (Rohter 2006).  15 Overview of the Dissertation This dissertation has six core chapters, in addition to this introduction and the conclusion. In the next chapter, I introduce the research setting and discuss the methods used in this project. I first consider the ways in which Brazil has been imagined as a tropical paradise, an aspect that significantly shapes the fields of power in which Brazilian women in Ponta Negra operate. I then consider the complex notion of race in Brazil and engage readers with the specificities of race in my field site. I also briefly examine tourism development in the Northeast of Brazil, before finally turning to a discussion of my methodological approaches. In Chapter 2, I engage with the scholarship on sex tourism and suggest that studies of sex tourism need to emphasize further the ambiguous nature of sex tourism. I begin with a critical examination of the concept of sex tourism, suggesting that sex tourism remains an important analytical tool, albeit one fraught with conceptual problems and limitations. Drawing on my ethnographic materials, I examine how affective and monetary relations intersect in Ponta Negra, and I challenge common understandings of sex tourism as exclusively synonymous with paid prostitution in tourism. I also question current perspectives on sex tourism that posit women as exclusively exploited in sex tourism, and I thus bring important nuances to approaches that negate the complex subject positions of the women who are involved in affective and/or commercial relationships with foreigners. I also “queer” sex tourism in an effort to interrogate the heterosexuality of sex tourism, albeit only partially. Chapter 3 begins with an analysis of a street march in Ponta Negra with a notable symbol of sex tourism: a 2-meter, papier-mâché sculpture of a white phallus, with several  16 flags representing different North American and European nations. The chapter uncovers how the street march and other campaigns against sex tourism in Natal are entangled in local micro-politics and its regional, national, and international articulations. Facing mounting international pressures (especially from the United States) to take anti- trafficking measures, Brazil adopted a tougher stance on sex tourism. In Natal, like in other locations, this translated into the conflation of sex tourism with both the sexual exploitation of minors and sex trafficking. This chapter also examines various stakeholders and their mobilizing strategies to fight sex tourism, including: the state policing of this place (through surveillance cameras at the beach and police raids in bars); the city’s advertisement campaigns at the airport; public signs opposing sex tourism on businesses’ entrance doors or websites, and street protests. I argue that these exclusionary spatial practices reveal middle class anxieties over the social mobility of mixed-race or black working class women. These campaigns, I suggest, have had the effect of further entrenching the marginalization of the women they were meant to rescue: the predominantly impoverished, black or mixed-race women, who engage in commercial sex with foreigners.  As the symbol of the white, giant phallus sculpture reveals, they are also predicated upon anxieties over the potential threat of neo-colonization, globalization, and mass tourism. In Chapter 4, I delve into the tensions between (paid) sex and the conquest for Western foreigners who imagine women as endowed with a tropical sexuality and who come to think of themselves as good men ‘helping’ these women. I draw on Gregory’s notion of imperial masculinity (2007) – a form of hetero-normative masculinity he observed in the Dominican Republic among tourists from North America and Europe – to  17 explore what I call “gringo masculinity.” My use of the term gringo, rather than imperial, points to the historically grounded yet dynamic and dialogical construction of the relations between the West (or the North) and Latin America (see Adams 1999; Nelson 1999; Veissière forthcoming). I suggest that there is more than imperialism to the form of collective, western masculinity enacted in Ponta Negra. In addition to the exoticization/eroticization of Brazilian women, these foreigners seek intimate relationships that affirm their desirability as men and that transcend the commercial nature of sex. They seek what has come to be popularly known as the “girlfriend experience” a form of commercial sex involving money, but also intimacy and authenticity (Bernstein 2007). This chapter thus explores the tension between othering (an erotic/exotic other) and intimacy (with a woman). This chapter also documents the co-construction of idealized otherness between European men and Brazilian women, and points to how Brazilian women imagine foreigners as gringo (not macho like Brazilian men) and read in them signs of cultural capital and social mobility. In Chapter 5, I propose that women in Ponta Negra are engaged in various practices of distinction that result from the tension between the stigma associated with sex with foreigners, and the potential for social mobility that comes with it. While their engagements with foreigners may be a site for further marginalization, they may also potentially pave the way to achieve cultural capital and social mobility. Feminist scholars have documented the ways in which racialized women put their “hypersexuality to work” in the global sex industry (Miller-Young 2010). In this chapter, I build on these claims to argue that women in Ponta Negra are putting their ‘femininity to work’ in the ambiguous context of sex tourism. They thus capitalize on both their hypersexuality and  18 respectability, drawing on foreign men’s search for a potential girlfriend or wife. This is not without paradoxes and tensions, as women negotiate ways to signal both their sexual availability and respectability. Thus I explore the various processes of (dis)identifications and distinction women rely on in order to establish their respectability and negotiate ascriptions of stigma. Yet these processes are more than attempts to resist stigmatization – albeit certainly serving that aim too. Indeed, these processes are closely tied to women’s projects of social, spatial and economic mobility.  Femininity is thus a form of embodied capital, one of the few resources women have at their disposal (Skeggs 1997; 2001). My analysis of femininity as a form of embodied cultural capital – while illuminating complex discursive strategies – would be incomplete without a consideration of the role of affect in mediating women’s engagements with foreign men. In Chapter 6, I argue that while rational considerations definitely shaped women’s transnational mobility, the decision to marry and migrate was rarely the result of a straightforward calculation. Indeed, it was often times in the name of love that women made the decision to move across transnational borders. In this last chapter, I seek to make three main interrelated arguments. First, I propose that to understand women’s intimate engagement with foreign men, it is necessary to locate their practices within what scholars have termed the “political economy of love” (Padilla et al 2007: xii; Rebhun 1999b). I engage with the work of scholars who consider the complex ways love coexists with interest and I borrow from Bloch (2011) the notion of “strategic intimacies” to grasp this complex intertwining. My second argument is that transnational love provides an important cultural script to make sense of one’s mobility, and thus acts as a productive force. I draw  19 on the work of feminist anthropologists who have documented how women (re)make themselves as modern subjects through transnational love (Constable 2003; Cheng 2010; Schaeffer-Grabiel 2004). Finally, I hypothesize that intimacies with foreign men may also be a catalyst to express discontent with their social locations. Although couched in a language that essentializes all Brazilian men as machos, the appeal of western foreigners reveals a profound sense of dissatisfaction with the patriarchal state and with the organization of gender, race, and class relations.     20 Chapter 1: Natal, the City of Pleasure  The city of pleasure (...), then, is thus the product and basis for the production of city marketing policies through which Natal disputes dollars and tourists. But it (the city of pleasure) is also the result of practices of social spatialization by its social actors. It is an image, and a “desired place,” a production and a social construct.        Edmilson Lopes Júnior 2000: 173-4   In order to understand further sex tourism in Natal, and especially the fields of power in which the Brazilian women in my study operate, it is necessary to engage with the research setting, both historically and ethnographically. This chapter thus introduces the reader to significant aspects shaping sex tourism in Natal, also known as the ‘city of pleasure’ (Lopes Júnior 2000). I thus now turn to the research setting, starting with the ways in which Brazil has been imagined as a tropical paradise, with important implications for the ways in which Brazilian women are in turn imagined within and outside the nation.  I then engage the question of race in Brazil and Natal, before turning to tourism development in Brazil, and the production of Natal as a city of pleasure. I finally shift to a discussion of my fieldwork, methodological approaches, and ethical considerations as I researched sex tourism in Ponta Negra.  Brazil Imagined: Tropical Eden on Earth The process of exoticization/eroticization of Brazilian women has a long history, and does not originate in sex tourism. Since early European colonization of Brazil by the Dutch, French, and Portuguese, Brazil’s indigenous women have been imagined as drastically different from European women, while Brazil itself has been seen as significantly distinct or opposed to Europe. In what follows, I explore the trope of Brazil  21 as a tropical paradise and the ways in which its women have occupied a particular space in imagining this new Eden on Earth throughout various historical periods. The trope of Brazil as a tropical paradise is rooted in early colonial representations of Brazil as an “earthly paradise, a kind of tropical Eden” (Parker 1991: 9) in which Natives appeared as animal-like, lascivious, and sexually insatiable. These depictions found their earliest expression in the first known written account of Brazil’s ‘discovery’ in 1500, when Portuguese explorer Pedro Álvares Cabral reached the shore of what would come to be known as Brazil (Parker 1991). His scribe, Pero Vaz the Caminha, sent a missive to the Portuguese monarch Dom Manuel in which he described Brazil as a tropical paradise, an Edenic vision of Brazil that would be long-lasting. In the letter, the scribe Caminha provided detailed descriptions not only of this newfound land, but also of its inhabitants. He was especially fascinated by the innocence and nakedness of the Native, especially the women: There walked among them three or four maidens, young and gracious, with very black, shoulder length hair, and their shameful parts so high, so tight, and so free of hair that, though we looked at them well, we felt no shame. And one of those maidens was completely dyed, both below and above her waist, and surely was so well made up and so round, and her shameful part (that had no shame) so gracious, that many women of our land seeing her countenance, will feel shame in not having theirs like hers (cited in Parker 1991: 10).  Although officially published only in 1817, the letter, written in 1500 was, as Sadlier notes (2008), a sharp example of ufanismo, a literary genre born out of colonialism, “characterized by glowing and often highly exaggerated descriptions of New World lands and peoples” (14). Importantly, the 1500 letter also “lays the foundation for subsequent descriptions of Brazil as a tropical Eden – an idea that would become a major trope in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century representations of Brazil” (Sadlier 2008: 14).  22 In subsequent colonial writings, Brazil was depicted as a tropical paradise on Earth, albeit one fraught with its opposite, a hell made of savagery and cannibalism (Parker 1991; Sadlier 2008). Painters, writers, and colonizers were captivated by what they described as the sexual promiscuity of the Natives, their nakedness, lack of pubic hair, and apparent absence of incest taboo (Parker 1991: 9-13). For instance, plantation owner and colonizer Gabriel Soares de Sousa wrote in 1587 in the important and influential Tratado Descritivo do Brasil (A Descriptive Treatise of Brazil): The Tupinambás are so lecherous that there is not a lascivious sin that they do not commit. Even at a very young age they have contact with women, because the old women, not highly valued by the men, attract these boys, offering them gifts and favors, and teach them to do what they do not know, and do not leave them by day or night. These heathens are so lustful that seldom do they have respect for sisters and aunts, and as this sin goes against their customs, they sleep with them in the forest, and some with their own daughter; and they do not content themselves with a single woman, but have many, as is indicated by the fact that many die worn out.  And in conversation, they know of nothing to speak about except these filthy acts, which they commit constantly (cited in Parker 1991: 13).  During the 17 th  century, these representations were revived by the Dutch when they occupied almost half of Brazil between 1630 and 1654 (Sadlier 2008). Painters, poets, and novelists depicted the natural wealth of Brazil, its fauna and flora and eventually the gold diamonds found in the backland of what came to be known as Minais Gerais (General Mines) at the end of the 17 th  century. The image of Brazil as a tropical Eldorado contrasted with portrayals of the harsh treatment African slaves received while working on mines and sugar plantations – representations that lasted well into the 18th and 19 th  centuries. In the late 19 th  and early 20 th  centuries, earlier representations of Brazil as a tropical paradise were revived by various Brazilian intellectuals as they sought to make sense of their identity as Brazilians in the aftermath of both the abolition of slavery in  23 1888 and the independence of the Republic in 1889. In the early 20 th  century, while theories of racial purity had found much resonance in Europe and North America, especially with the Eugenics movement, the intellectual elites of Brazil expressed ambivalence toward the racially mixed populations that composed most of Brazil. At that time, the idea of degeneration was quite popular among European intellectuals, as they strongly believed in the idea of ‘pure race,’ in the superiority of the white race, and in the unavoidable degeneracy of the non-white races. Embranquecimento, or the whitening ideology, was adopted in Brazil as a means to solve the problems posed by newly freed African slaves and by a predominantly mixed-race population. The whitening thesis derived from Eugenics, but took a particular twist: since most of the population in Brazil was not racially ‘pure,’ racial mixture was encouraged to achieve a whiter nation. Racial mixture “was not a cause of degeneracy but (...) a biologically adaptive process that would allow a true civilization to develop in the tropics” (Stepan 1991: 160). It was believed that the ‘white race’ would eventually triumph over the ‘black race,’ and thus, racial mixture was imagined as the path to join other modern nations. A drastically different position, however, was presented by Gilberto Freyre and soon became extremely influential in Brazil. Freyre, a social historian, was trained in cultural anthropology under the guidance of Franz Boas at Columbia University, but he was also influenced by his own biography, growing up on a sugar plantation where the legacy of slavery was very much palpable (Needell 1995). In his famous book Casa Grande e Senzala published in 1933 and later translated as The Masters and the Slaves (1964), Freyre describes miscegenation as a positive force and defining feature of the Brazilian people. The main argument of the book rests upon the assumption that modern  24 Brazil has a distinct character resulting from the “union of cultures” between the Native, the Portuguese, and the ‘Negro Slave,’ which took place during colonization and slavery (1986: xii). Freyre emphasized the central role of the sugar plantation and its Big House in the process of forming the Brazilian nation, which he described as a “polygamous patriarchy” (xxiii). He also depicted relationships between masters and slaves as “milder in Brazil, it may be, than in any other parts of the Americas” (369) due in part to their sexual promiscuity. Freyre insisted on the erotic as a constitutive element of the Brazilian nation, such as in the following excerpt which evokes his own experience while titillating the presumed male reader: “The female slave who rocked us to sleep. Who suckled us. Who fed us, mashing our food with her own hands ... and the mulatto girl ... who initiated us into physical love and, to the creaking of a canvas cot, gave us our first complete sensation of being a man” (1956: 278). As several authors have pointed out, Freyre romanticizes colonization, slavery, and the relations between masters and slaves and sets forth the myth of a racial democracy in present-day Brazil (Goldstein 2003; Needell 1995). Freyre also emphasizes the lascivious character of women in tropical environments, depicting both Indian and African women as naturally endowed with a tropical sexuality, thus eliding the more violent sexual-colonial encounter that occurred. His writings also celebrate the mulatto woman (hereafter mulata), who appears as the perfect embodiment of racial mixture. Freyre’s vision was central to subsequent nation-building processes. As Edmonds aptly notes: The eroticization of race became a central dimension of the colonial enterprise in many regions. But the situation in Brazil – which gained independence in the early nineteenth century – is different. Here the objectifying gaze is internal, pressed into the service of a nation-building project, directed ‘defensively’ against  25 advocates of racial purity, segregation, and “Apollonian” whiteness. Freyre’s celebration of mestiçagem [miscegenation], though, functions as a kind of compensatory nationalism. It establishes a national identity that offsets negative comparison to Europe or the United States made according to a liberal yardstick” (2010: 134)  Freyre’s vision remains extremely powerful in contemporary Brazil. As Pravas proposes: “Not only do Freyre’s texts ‘explain’ Brazil anthropologically, with its tendencies, preferences and desires, but also constitute those very tendencies, founding a certain discursivity (...) that has become hegemonic in local understandings of both mulatas and the nation” (2003: 125). The eroticization of Brazilian women is not a new theme in Brazilian historiography and does not begin with sex tourism. In Chapters 3, 4, and 5 I discuss this trope and the ways in which it becomes articulated anew in sex tourism.  Thinking Race in Brazil and Natal Since Freyre, different generations of scholars from a variety of theoretical orientations and disciplines have agreed that Brazil is not a racial democracy (Hanchard 1994; Harris 1964; Fry 1996; Goldstein 2003; Skidmore 1993 [1974]; Twine 1997; Winant 1992). These scholars have deconstructed the myth of the friendly master and showed that interracial sex was not a proof of Brazil’s racial egalitarianism. Yet the idea that ‘Brazil is different’ is defended by many because of the fluidity, ambiguity, and context-dependent nature of race relations in Brazil. For instance, Degler (1971) has identified what he refers to as a “mulatto-escape hatch” (224), which marks Brazil as different racially speaking. According to him, the mulatto, neither black nor white, can escape the “handicap” of being black in some instances because “class mitigates color”  26 (106), or said differently, because money whitens. This interpretation still has some resonance in contemporary Brazil (e.g. Fry 1996). One could suggest that in Brazil, the system of racial classification is both fluid – with gradation such as white (branco), light- brown (moreno claro), light-skin black (moreno escuro), dark-skin black (preto) or black (negro) – and bi-polar with the categories of white and black (Fry 2000). This is particularly important given that morena was the most common racial category used by the women I interviewed in Natal, reflecting the way most Brazilians identify both nationally and in Rio Grande do Norte. 7  While the Brazilian census gives the choice of five words for “colour” terms, in everyday speech over 130 terms have been identified, with moreno and its variation being the most common (IBGE 1999). Yet moreno does not figure in the census, and in 2010, inhabitants of Rio Grande do Norte identified as follows: 59.2 % pardos (brown) followed by 36.3% as branco (white), 4.4% as pretos (black) and none as  amarelo (yellow) or indígena (IBGE 2011). Williams (2010) argues that “morena is often used as a euphemism for negra in a society that still devalues blackness” (36). While this is certainly the case in Salvador and elsewhere in Brazil, the term morena is indeed a polysemic category that is used throughout Brazil and transnationally to refer to a wide range of phenotypes (Edmonds 2010; Maia 2009). Despite its widespread use, the scholarship dedicated to understanding it in its own right is rather recent (Maia 2009; Piscitelli 2007b) and because of a Rio- centrist focus on the mulata, this scholarship has remained relatively absent from attempts to grasp how this racial category intersects with discourses on Brazilian hypersexuality (Williams 2010: 37-38).  7  As well, a couple of my interviewees identified as branca (white), a few as negra (black) and a woman identified as mulata.  27 Contrary to mulata, the term morena is not necessarily associated with African ascendance nor always sexualized. In some contexts it may indicate other racial identifications, including aboriginality (Piscitelli 2005) and refer to a light-skinned brunette (Edmonds 2010:132). It is also a racial category that is closely associated with the middle class (Maia 2009). Nonetheless, as a racial category, it was first celebrated in Freyre’s writing about “brown women.” And in the Brazilian imaginary, to be “brown” is, in many ways, to identify with the national narrative on hybridity. As demonstrated in Edmonds’s ethnography of plastic surgery in Brazil, hybridity (i.e. being brown) becomes beauty: “brown is beautiful partly because it avoids ‘Africanoid exaggerations’” (2010: 134).  Blackness thus remains a stigmatizing force. The morena, then, is a complex racial category, and one that was particularly elusive among my interviewees. Some women even shifted between identification as morena to negra depending on the context. A few women used the latter when expressing the stigmatization and discrimination they suffered as racialized women in Ponta Negra, while describing their skin colour as morena when explaining why foreign men were attracted to them. The fluidity with which these women self-identify poses problems as I try to grapple with women’s shifting identifications in a transnational space such as Ponta Negra. While racism prevailed locally and racial discrimination was a recurrent theme in women’s narratives, morenidade (brownness) seems to be a source of positive valuation in light of foreign men’s racial desires for “brown” women. In other words, the identity “black” appeared to be more politicized, while morenidade was seen positively in the context of foreign men’s search for a typical Brazilian woman, as well as in accordance with local views on brownness as better than blackness. For analytical purposes, I  28 decided to use the terms “dark-skinned women”, “mixed-race women” or “black women”, in addition to the terms morena and negra in Portuguese. My use of these different terms is an attempt to reflect the local idiom. It would be misleading to exclusively use the term “black” or “negra,” as it would negate the indigenous heritage that contributes to most of the racially-mixed population in Rio Grande do Norte. Furthermore, neither does it reflect the complex, shifting, and at times ambiguous racial positionings that operate in Ponta Negra, nor does it account for the ways most women identified (i.e. as morena). Now that I have traced the racial context in which the women in my study operate, I turn to the political economy of tourism in the Northeast of Brazil, in order to grasp the significance of sex tourism economically.  Tourism Developments in Tropical Northeast Brazil Like its neighbours in the Northeast of Brazil, the state of Rio Grande do Norte (see figure 1) began focusing on tourism as a strategy of economic development in the 1980s. At the time, Brazil faced a severe economic crisis, and the International Monetary Fund had identified tourism as an important sector that could help redress the economic recession.  The Brazilian federal government thus identified the Northeast as a region that could develop tourism infrastructure, and initiated a program called PRODETUR-NE that would incorporate the Northeast region in the global market of tourism. 8   This program resulted in the development of major tourist infrastructure in the Northeast, including the  8  The first tourism policies in Brazil emerged in 1958 with the creation of COMBRATÚR (the Brazilian Commission for Tourism) by then President Juscelino Kubitschek. In 1962, a division for Sports and Tourism replaced COMBRATÚR, until the creation of Embratur in 1966 (and which still operates today). During the military regime of 1964 to 1985, the federal government used tourism as an important “national strategic industry” (Diegues 2001: 59) and thus engaged in marketing campaigns promoting domestic tourism and put forth various financial incentives for tourism infrastructure.  29 construction of the Rota do Sol (the Sun Road), a highway which links various beach towns and villages in Rio Grande do Norte and provides access to the 410 km of beaches along the state coastline.  Figure 1: Map of Rio Grande do Norte 9   The Northeast region currently occupies the top position in the country for tourism development and in 2007, 74% of tourism investments was located in that region (Ministério do Turismo 2007). Prior to this moment, the Northeast was reputed as a “problem region” in the national imaginary and was associated with images of drought, poverty, and out-migration (Silva and Gomes 2001). From the 1980s onward, the image of the Northeast shifted to that of a “tropical paradise” (Silva and Gomes 2001), especially given tourism development focused along the coast. In 1978, the state of Rio Grande do Norte implemented the Plan for Urban Tourism. Natal played a central role in  9  Source: http://www.guianet.com.br/rn/maparn.htm  30 this development as it came to be promoted as a tourist destination, initially intended as a sort of “local Copacabana” (Lopes Júnior 2000: 39). The construction of the Via Costeira (Coastal Highway), which linked the city center to the southern beach of Ponta Negra, constituted an important marker of tourism development as it was during this period that Natal gained notoriety as a domestic tourist destination (Silva and Gomes 2001).  atal: A City of Pleasure The city of Natal (see figures 1 and 2), 10  also known as Sun City because of its reputed 300 days of sun a year, played an important role in tourism development. Situated in the state of Rio Grande do Norte, Natal is relatively small compared to other capital cities in Brazil, with 803,811 inhabitants (IBGE 2010), and it is known for its low crime rate and quietness. 11  Natal was long considered a provincial town, dominated by the local elite. In the 1920s the city began a process of urbanization that continued through the 1930s, especially in the neighbourhood of Ribeiro by the Rio Potengi, which is now the city centre.  Natal played an important role during World War II due to its strategic location as the closest point between South America and Europe. In 1942, a new military naval base was built, leading to an increase in the presence of Brazilian military and the selection of Natal to serve as a base for the U.S. military (Lopes Júnior 2000). The  10  Natal translates as Christmas and takes it name from its foundational moment on the 25 of December 1599, when the Portuguese took possession of the land more than sixty years after their initial attempts to combat the Potiguar (an indigenous group that populated the region) and their French allies. During the 17 th  century (1633-1654) the Dutch occupied Natal and renamed it New Amsterdam. Then the Portuguese took it back but settled slowly. By 1805, it had 6393 inhabitants, and at the end of the 19 th  century, more than 16,000 inhabitants (Cascudo 1999; 1968). 11  In effect, in a study by the Research Institute in Applied Economic (IPEA), Natal ranked as the quietest capital city in Brazil with a rate of criminality of 18,59 per 100 thousand inhabitants, compared to 66,38 per 100 thousand inhabitants for Recife, widely considered the most violent (Clemente 2005: 74).  31 presence of the U.S. military in the city altered the provincialism of Natal as new urban infrastructure was built and the presence of both Brazilian and American soldiers was felt in the city. During the 1940s, the Cabaré Maria Boa opened and prospered.  This famous, almost mythical cabaret, catered to both Brazilians and Americans and rapidly acquired fame. The cabaret greatly contributed to the development of the sex industry in the city (Santos 2010) and was a precursor to both the contemporary fascination for things foreign and sex tourism. Ironically, the cabaret, which closed in the mid 1990s after years of decay, is unknown to most present-day tourists visiting the city. Economically, the city, much like the state, was initially reliant on fishing and agricultural production. Like other states in the Northeast of Brazil, Rio Grande do Norte was long considered impoverished and was characterized by deeply entrenched oligarchy, severe droughts, and out-migration led primarily by men to the industrial South and Southeast regions of the country. The discovery of petrol in the 1970s resulted in important development in this sector. The state of Rio Grande do Norte currently leads the national production of oil: it occupies the first position inland, and the second at sea. The service sector is considered the most lucrative, accounting for 50.2% of the state economy with tourism as its main industry (Governo do Estado do Rio Grande do Norte 2011; Portal Brasil 2011). Tourism (both domestic and international) represents the most significant source of revenue and employment for the state of Rio Grande do Norte (Governo do Estado do Rio Grande do Norte 2011). 12  Tourism is thus particularly important in the region, especially when considering the sharp inequalities that characterize the Northeast region and the state of Rio Grande do Norte. The index of  12  While agricultural production has dropped to 5.6% of the state economy in 2004, the industrial sector is responsible for 44.2% of the state economy and includes a vibrant textile industry as well as 95% of the national production of salt.  32 poverty for Rio Grande do Norte was 52.27% in 2003, and in 2005 the state ranked 21st out of 27 states for its Human Development Index, which measures income, education, and longevity (IBGE 2011; PNUD 2008). 13  In Rio Grande do Norte, the growth of tourism infrastructure was also accompanied by massive foreign-investment; as of 2011, the Ministry of Labour and Employment ranked the state of Rio Grande do Norte as first in the whole country in terms of foreign investment, with its US$24 million, in contrast to US$17 million for the state of Rio de Janeiro, in second position (Governo do Estado do Rio Grande do Norte 2011).   Figure 2: The City of Natal (with a view of Ponta Negra, located south)  14   Edmilson Lopes Júnior (2000) analyses the production of Natal as a “city of pleasure” for the local middle class and documents the social changes that led to its  13  Indeed, Brazil is unequally divided geographically as exemplified by the Human Development Index: the 11 best ranking states are located in the South and Southeast and 16 worst ranking states in the North and Northeast, the Northeast region occupying the worst position. 14  Map drawn by Julien Henon © 2012, used with permission.  33 particular, unique socio-spatial configuration as a tourist city in the Northeast of Brazil. The district of Ponta Negra, the primary site of this research, played a significant role in this development (see figure 2). Ponta Negra is, indeed, a very small place but it constitutes, in the city landscape, a place of its own. Situated about 14 kilometres south of the city centre, Ponta Negra is famous for its beautiful beach and its unique sand dunes, the Morro do Careca  (the Bald Hill), and attracts both domestic and international tourists (see figure 3). For many tourists, Ponta Negra is defined by its beach and the nightlife in its hill area known as the Alto de Ponta Negra, but the district is also a residential neighbourhood, divided into the Vila (or the village), the oldest and poorest part of Ponta Negra, and the Conjunto, a middle-class residential area comprised of a shopping mall and gated, privatized, and secured residences (see figure 2).  Figure 3: The Beach of Ponta Negra, with a view on the Morro do Careca 15  Ponta Negra was long a peripheral area of the city. It was initially a fishing community that developed up the hills by the Morro do Careca with houses facing away  15  Source: http://sospontanegra.blogspot.com  34 from the beach view. During the 1960s and 1970s, Ponta Negra became one of the privileged sites in the region as a second residence for Natal’s elites, who built houses by the shore and left them largely uninhabited. During those years, the beach was also the meeting point of a privileged but alternative youth who opposed the military dictatorship (Ribeiro and Sacramento 2006). An important change transforming the spatial configurations of the city occurred in the early 1980s when, as explained above, a 12-km road, the Vía Costeira (Coastal Highway) was constructed to foster tourism development by connecting Ponta Negra to the city centre (Lopes Júnior 2000: 39). Urbanization of the southern part of the coast for tourism came with drastic changes; hotels, bars, and restaurants replaced the summer residences of the local elite, who then moved to more distant and secluded beaches south of Natal to get away from the hubbub. In the 1980s and 1990s, Ponta Negra was also marketed for tourism as a “different” place, and came to attract the local middle class in search of distinction. The residential Conjunto was then built and alongside the city expansion and tourism development, Ponta Negra transformed itself into an urbanized beach. With its sand dunes and protected areas, with its nightlife and nice restaurants, chic nightclubs, fancy bars, and finally with the development of a new residential area and shopping mall, Ponta Negra became associated with a middle-class lifestyle (Lopes Júnior 2000: 55). By 2000, Natal had symbolically become a city of pleasure for leisure and local tourism, and Ponta Negra, its “postcard” (Lopes Júnior 2000: 56). Further significant transformations, however, contributed to even more drastic changes. In 2000, following the construction of a new terminal, the airport of Natal inaugurated its first international flights, connecting Natal to several major European cities. Given its strategic location as  35 the closest capital city to Europe from Brazil, Natal quickly became a major destination for European tourism. Between 2002 and 2007, the number of visitors almost doubled, with the number of international tourists increasing 100%, and international flights rising from 5 per week in 2002 to at least 23 per week in 2007 16  (Infraero 2010; Chiquetti 2007). In 2007, Natal was the third most visited city by international tourists in the Northeast of Brazil and the sixth for the whole country, after São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Salvador, Porto Alegre and Fortaleza, an impressive position given the relatively small size of Natal in contrast to these major state capital cities. In 2007, 98.93% of the tourists arriving by air or sea to Rio Grande do Norte came from a European country, with Portugal as the most frequent country of origin followed by Italy, Holland, Spain and England (Ministério do Turismo 2008). Ponta Negra is the chosen site for this research because of its close association with sex tourism; while it is not the only tourist site in the city of Natal, it is the most important. As the privileged site of tourism in the city, the neighbourhood was drastically transformed by this rapid influx of tourists and foreign investment. In addition to foreign tourists, foreign-owned businesses came to be situated next to locally owned businesses, and major skyscrapers became a common feature of the landscape. Ponta Negra became a transnational space marked by the presence of foreigners, mostly Europeans. Many restaurants, bars, hotels, travel agencies, shops, and real estate agencies are now owned by foreigners and/or take their names from foreign languages, including Italian, Spanish, English, and French. In the last decade, the beach of Ponta Negra in Natal has become a site of global sex tourism where both (white) male desire and (black or mixed-race)  16  The flights mainly depart from Portugal, Spain, Italy, the Netherlands, Germany, England, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Norway and Argentina (Governo do Estado do Rio Grande do Norte 2011).  36 female bodies are intensively commodified. Foreigners – mostly white, European, and middle-class – and Brazilian women – predominantly dark-skinned, lower-class, and young –form an important part of Ponta Negra’s landscape and their presence is notable in the hotels, restaurants, bars, nightclubs, shopping malls, and at the beach, where both groups seek to encounter one another. Once seen as the site of gente de familia, 17  Ponta Negra became associated with sex tourism due to the visible presence of gringos (foreigners) and garotas de programa, generating spatial tensions, which I explore more closely in Chapter 3. In recent years, the beach of Ponta Negra has become infamous in Brazil as a site of sex tourism and is even colloquially referred to as the Puta Negra (Black Whore) of Brazil. This play on the word Ponta Negra reflects the widespread conflation made in Natal between black bodies and prostitution. Given the stigma associated with prostitution and the racial tensions already existing, this generates exclusionary spatial practices. Ponta Negra is thus also a contested space, where different tensions are articulated along lines of gender, race, class, age, sexuality, and nationality. It is, at once, a transnational space offering new opportunities – for foreign investors, for migrants, for the local residents – and a space of inequalities and exclusions. It is, indeed, an interesting case in point of the ways in which inequalities of race, class, gender, sexuality, and nationality find new expressions. While the privileges of transnational mobility are usually restricted to foreigners, an increasing number of young, lower-class, predominantly dark-skinned women imagine in Ponta Negra the possibility to transform their lives through sex, marriage, and migration. Both contested and transnational, Ponta  17 Gente de familia does not have a direct English translation but it has a class connotation and alludes to people from well off families.  37 Negra is also an ambiguous space, where what is commodified, and who is involved in this process, is not always clear.  Methodology Participant observation This dissertation draws upon ethnographic research conducted in the tourist district of Ponta Negra. From July 2007 to June 2008, I lived in this neighbourhood and conducted participant observation in various places frequented by tourists, including restaurants, bars, nightclubs, Internet cafés, shopping malls, and beaches. In these spaces, I interacted with a wide range of people, not only with male tourists and Brazilian women seeking to meet tourists, but also with travel agents, tourist guides, local residents, surf instructors, street or beach vendors, owners of hotels, hostels, restaurants and bars, as well as service workers in these establishments. It was also where I lived, as I rented an apartment in between the bar/nightclub area in the Alto de Ponta Negra and the beach. Living in Ponta Negra, I came to realize that the topic of sex tourism was recurrent in many settings I had not anticipated and that it permeated the fabric of everyday lives in a myriad of ways. For instance, in the building where I lived, several mixed-race couples had ambiguous relationships that bordered on commercial sex or had begun in the context of paid sex. My hairdresser, a Brazilian woman in her mid-twenties, had met her Spanish partner while working as a garota de programa in local bars. Her partner owned the hair salon she had begun managing after their relationship became more serious. There was also my surf instructor, a Brazilian man originally from the Vila of Ponta Negra who used to work in one of the main bars catering to foreign men and  38 garotas de programa, and who acted as an intermediary between them. He had a lot of ‘insider’ knowledge and introduced me to some women identifying as garotas de programa. In other words, I encountered ‘sex tourism’ on my time ‘off,’ in unexpected spaces, and I gained knowledge of its imbrications in the everyday lives of several people in ways that would have been difficult to access without living there. Furthermore, residing in Ponta Negra over an extensive period of time and navigating distinct groups of people (e.g. local residents, tourists, service workers, business owners, local associations opposing sex tourism, etc) allowed me to grasp issues that I had not anticipated prior to conducting research in Ponta Negra (including the racial and class tensions as well as the spatial struggles I discuss in Chapter 3). Since tourist spaces in Ponta Negra are easy to identify and are located in close proximity to one another, I was able to rapidly establish a routine of participant observation that followed the rhythm of the people I intended to study. On a typical day, I would head to the beach in the late morning, as this was the time of the day when most of the tourists would emerge from a night out in the clubs. I conducted most of my observations on the stretch of beach that goes from the Morro do Careca to the beginning of the Via Costeira (coastal highway) because it was the most frequented by tourists (see figures 2 and 3). As the time passed, I became aware of the distinct social spaces that developed at the beach. For instance, close to the Morro do Careca, local fishermen would come back with their jangadas (wooden fishing boats, see figure 4) after fishing at sea, kids from the Vila would play in the waves or in the sand, and Brazilian tourists would commonly frequent this quieter side of the beach.  39 At the opposite end, where the Via Costeira begins, upper middle class and upper class hotels directly facing the beach attracted Brazilian tourists, foreign couples, and family-oriented tourism, as well as foreign female tourists. This was the quietest part of the beach, because there was no direct street access to the beach and it was further away from the bar/restaurant area. The busiest segment of the beach was located next to Erivan França street, a unique, one-sided street along the beach (see figure 2). Along this segment, there was a Norwegian-friendly spot where the locally hand-made sound systems played Norwegian music, and there were other spots known for attracting either Spanish or Italian male tourists. There were very few female foreign tourists in these spaces; indeed, I noted the few times when I encountered them because it was unusual, while the presence of male foreign tourists was highly visible in almost all tourist spaces and was especially concentrated along Erivan França street. These tourist spaces were also frequented by Brazilian women seeking to meet foreign men and by a whole range of local workers, including walking vendors, surf board renters, kiosk operators, etc.  40  Figure 4: Image of Ponta Negra by the Morro do Careca 18   The beach was indeed a diversified social space where both tourists and locals mingled – yet some spots along the beach stood out because they attracted both foreign men and Brazilian women who sought to meet one another. These spaces were recognizable as meeting points mostly due to the visible presence of both groups and to the ways in which women displayed their bodies to the predominantly male gaze. It was a common occurrence to see Brazilian women in groups of two or three dancing erotically in thongs or mimicking sexual acts to the sound of music the compact disk sellers played from their mobile hand-made sound systems. Meanwhile, male tourists watched, took pictures or filmed women dancing, contributing to the creation of (hetero)sexualized spaces at the beach. I concentrated my participant-observation activities in the busiest parts of the beach along the Erivan França street, focusing on the spots where Brazilian women and foreign men sought to encounter one another. I visited the beach almost  18  Source: http://sospontanegra.blogspot.com  41 every day, either alone or with a group of Brazilian women or foreign men I had met on a previous night out. At sunset, around 5:00 or 5:30 p.m., tourists would commonly leave the beach to retreat to their hotel rooms, eat in one of the many restaurants in the area, shop in the nearby mall, or have a drink in one of the few bars by the beach or up the hill. On the Erivan França street, there was an important point of encounter between women self- identifying as garotas de programa and foreign men: the Marine Sea Hotel. There, Brazilian women and foreign men would seek to meet one another: they would exchange playful gazes, a man or a group of men would join a group of women and pay for their drinks or food; a woman would negotiate a programa and leave with a man; or foreign men and Brazilian women would arrange to meet later in one of the nightclubs up the hill. I frequented the Marine Sea Hotel almost every day. Sometimes I would just drop by for a few minutes (when there were very few people or to catch up with someone met previously) and at other times, I would spend a couple of hours there. The first few times I went there, I sat alone a little awkwardly, feeling like a misfit in this space. Yet I rarely remained alone as there was always someone inviting me to join his or her table (both foreign men and Brazilian women). After a few weeks, Brazilian women who regularly frequented Ponta Negra’s beach and bars to meet foreigners recognized me and invited me to join their tables.  Brazilian women also spent the early evening preparing for the night out, and I took part in this activity from time to time with a few Brazilian women, most often with Bebel. She lived in a pousada (guesthouse) with her cousin Monica just a street away from where I lived, and their place was a meeting point in the hours preceding a night  42 out. Bebel and her colegas (peers) commonly had a light dinner at the pousada before getting ready for the night out – showering, dressing up, applying make-up, doing their hair, etc. During these moments, Bebel and her colegas would discuss the upcoming night and the foreign men they dated or had programa with, and provide each other with tips and advice. These intimate conversations provided further insights into the ambiguity and complexity of their practices. The anticipation of the night out was a particularly charged context – at times, full of excitement, at others, tense, and from time to time, a safe space to express sadness, fear, anxiety, tiredness, etc. In these moments, I was often surprised at the ability of these women to be playful in the bars, nightclubs, or at the beach while carrying so many worries and sorrows. Taking part in their everyday routine thus allowed me to witness additional dimensions of their lives.  The nightlife in Ponta Negra commonly began after 10:00 p.m. and ended in the early hours of the morning (until 4:00, 5:00, even 6:00 a.m. for some). I conducted participant-observation in most of the nightclubs and bars (about a dozen) in the Alto de Ponta but eventually I opted to concentrate on those catering to and/or attracting Brazilian women and foreign men. These included two small bars with tropical themes, (the Paraísio and the Água de Coco) where women could enter for free or received a free drink upon paying a 5 reais entry fee. At around 12:00 or 12:30 a.m., those still interested in staying out would move to one of the few nightclubs in the area – most commonly to the Açaí, Mosquito, Portal or Samba. The Açaí was the most popular nightclub and it operated on alternate nights with the Mosquito. It had a bar counter, an open area, and a dance room opening at 2:00 a.m. that was accessible through a side door and which contained a dance floor, a cage where  43 women would dance, another bar counter, and an elevated bench overseeing the dance floor. In the Açaí, waitresses were required to wear a schoolgirl uniform consisting of a white shirt, a green patterned skirt above the knee, and knee-length white socks. Brazilian women who regularly frequented the nightclub had a special member card allowing them to enter for free while foreign men would pay 30 reais. The Mosquito, which opened only when the Açai was closed (on Tuesdays and Sundays) had two floors, the first consisting of two plateaus (i.e. large spaces separated by stairs) on a terrace with tables and chairs. The first plateau was located right by the entrance and allowed those already sitting at a table to watch those coming in. The Mosquito was often times referred to negatively by both Brazilians and tourists and many Brazilian women did not like the ‘meat market’ vibe emerging from this place. Stairs leading downstairs gave onto an indoor dance floor, which opened at 2:00 a.m. The Portal and Samba had a more mixed clientele. The former was relatively small with a dance floor and some tables, and was distinctive because it attracted local lesbian women seeking to meet other Brazilian women.  The Samba, a Latino dance bar, attracted middle class Brazilian women, a few foreign and Brazilian men, as well as a few female foreign tourists apparently seeking out the club’s regular Capoeira show displaying Brazilian men’s bodies. In all of these bars, I noticed a few presumably gay Brazilian men and travestis 19  who also sought to encounter foreign men but who were rather marginal in numbers, and generated much attention and gossip as ‘out-of-place.’ During the year I lived in Ponta Negra, bars opened and closed, resulting in shifting spatial practices and revealing the unstable nature of tourism in the  19  Travestis (literally transvestites) is the term used in Brazil to refer to male to female transsexuals who modify their bodies through hormones or silicones injections, but rarely through sex-change operations (see Kulick 1997).  44 neighbourhood. For instance, when I arrived in July 2007, there were two bars (Paraíso and Água de Coco) and two nightclubs (the Açaí and the Mosquito) operating on alternate nights that catered mainly to foreign male tourists and Brazilian women. A new nightclub eventually opened a little outside the Alto de Ponta Negra in October 2007 with short-lived success; in March 2008 the praça, an open, out-door place with several small, separate bars rapidly became the point of encounter where foreign tourists and Brazilian women would seek to encounter one another leaving the Paraíso and Água de Coco rather empty. I shifted my observations according to these spatial transformations, following the movement of foreign men and Brazilian women as much as possible. I tried to rotate nights and to spend between three and five nights a week in the nightclubs – most commonly, spending an hour or two in the bars and/or nightclubs, but from time to time, I would stay there until the early hours of the morning. Wednesday nights were particularly lively in the Alto do Ponta Negra, due to a local tradition instituted by one of the first bars to open in the area. After Wednesday, Saturday was the busiest night of the week. Then, activity most commonly occurred, in decreasing order, on Fridays, Thursdays, Sundays, Tuesdays and Mondays.  I spent several nights on my own, speaking with different groups of people throughout the night, or sitting at the counter and observing what was happening, especially during the first few weeks. Sometimes, I would arrange to meet with one woman or a group of women I had come to know. Many women welcomed my company for a night or two, or for a small chat, but most of them had their group and preferred to stay with them. I became part of Bebel’s group to some extent and eventually arranged to meet with her or her colegas in the bars and nightclubs. Bebel insisted that I accompany her, as she did not like the blunt  45 approach that some women would take in the bars, including her own friends. She welcomed the presence of a woman with whom she could spend the night talking, while subtly flirting with men or letting one of them approach her. I was her ideal companion since I was not interested in meeting a foreign man. Participant observation in these different spaces – the beach, the Marine Sea hotel, the bars, the nightclubs – was an important research strategy particularly helpful to understand the cyclical, transient, and at times unpredictable nature of tourism. For instance, in August, Ponta Negra was full of Italian male tourists on holiday, yet by September, they were mostly all gone. Bebel once referred to Ponta Negra as a living museum, suggesting that it was a relic from the past because it was (momentarily) emptied of tourists. Certain days were particularly busy because an international flight had arrived while over the course of several months, some periods were especially difficult for women as there were very few tourists (and many women).  As anthropologists commonly emphasize, by spending considerable time in these different tourist spaces, I could capture the contradictions between what people say and do, and get further insights into these sexualized encounters across differences through extensive, prolonged observations and interactions. In-depth Interviews and Informal Conversations During the period of fieldwork from July 2007 to June 2008, I also conducted interviews with different groups of people in order grasp the ways in which they made sense of their participation in sex tourism. I interviewed the following four main groups of people: 1) Brazilian women; 2) foreign men; 3) workers in the tourism industry; and 4) state and non-state actors campaigning against sex tourism (see appendix 1 for more  46 details). In total, I conducted 56 interviews, including 27 with Brazilian women; 15 with foreign men (11 tourists and 4 ex-pats, including 3 bar or hostel owners and 1 travel agent); 4 with Brazilians working in the tourism industry (2 bar and restaurant owners, 1 surf instructor, 1 kiosk operators) and 8 with state and non-state actors involved in the campaigns against sex tourism (3 NGO workers; 2 members of associations of residents and/or business owners and 3 state agents from the municipal and state level tourism secretary and from the Tourist Police). I also conducted interviews with the mother of Ana, one of the women I followed closely (discussed in Chapter 6), as well with the head of ASPRO-RN, the local association of sex workers. These interviews were all tape-recorded, with the exception of one with a tourist who requested that I take written notes. They were conducted in various languages – all the interviews with Brazilians were conducted in Portuguese; those with foreigners were conducted in English or French, and two interviews were conducted in a mixture of Italian/French or Italian/Spanish. I transcribed all these interviews myself. 20  The interviews were semi-structured with a set of questions that shifted over time as I became aware of some important issues – including, for instance, the many campaigns against sex tourism, which initially was not a topic I discussed with women, but one that eventually emerged. 21   20  I am fluent in French, English, Portuguese, and understand Spanish well, but my comprehension of Italian is limited and I thus had help from my roommate in Brazil who was fluent in Italian, and from a fellow graduate student, Natasha Damiano, to grasp the content in Italian. 21  These interviews vary in length depending on the willingness and availability of those who agreed to be interviewed; they range from 30 minutes to more than 2 hours, with a total of 29 hours of tape-recorded materials for the 27 Brazilian women I interviewed, an average of about 65 minutes each. In an attempt to accommodate as much as possible those who agreed to participate in my research, these interviews were conducted at various locations, including at the beaches, in coffee shops or restaurants, at a woman’s house, apartment or guesthouse, or in work office spaces.  47 The Brazilian women I interviewed were between 18 and 38 years of age, and the majority of them were in their early to late twenties, with an average age of 27. Interestingly, of the 27 women I interviewed, almost two-thirds had experiences travelling or living abroad (17 out of 27), all but one going at the invitation of their boyfriend. Nineteen of the 27 women I interviewed had children (between one and four, with an average of two children per women, most of them toddlers or of elementary school age). Given the absence of state-sponsored childcare services, they relied, for the most part, on their relatives to take care of their children when working; a few women had their children taken care for by their in-laws or by their own mother who resided outside of Natal. 22  These women regularly sent remittances to those taking care of their children, and most women saved enough money to pay for their children’s schooling in private schools. Of the 19 women who had children, 7 had a child with a foreigner (see appendix 1 for further details). None of the women I interviewed went to university but three had technical degrees (for instance in nursing and hairdressing). Fifteen women had high school diplomas (all of them from public institutions); while of the remaining twelve women, half had completed their primary school degree, the remaining six women frequented schools only briefly. Economically, most of these women could be considered as lower class or middle class. The 15 foreigners I interviewed were all Europeans, reflecting an important, distinctive aspect of Natal, where, as discussed previously, in  22  Of the nineteen women having children, four had left their children in the care of their mother or mother- in-law and sent them remittances. The remaining fourteen mothers live with their children and had diverse arrangements for child care: one woman had shared custody with her ex-husband, an Italian man who lived in Natal; another provided for her sister in exchange for child care (including food, housing, and money); while several women relied on their mothers to take care of their children when on a night out or spending time at the beach. A few women also brought their children with them at the beach and in restaurants during the day. The majority of women did not reveal to their children (and at times to their mothers) what they were doing in Ponta Negra; however, Felicidade told her eleven year-old daughter she was a garota de programa, hoping to de-stigmatize how her daughter viewed paid sex.  48 2007, more than 98% of the international tourists arriving in Natal were Europeans (Ministério do Turismo 2008). 23  It was challenging to get interviews with both foreign men and Brazilian women. As other scholars have noted in similar contexts (Williams 2010), the transient nature of sex tourism does not lend itself easily to interview-based research. Most of the male tourists in Ponta Negra stayed for very short periods of time (one or two weeks), leaving little time to get to know each other, build trust, and arrange for a meeting. Some men were reluctant to talk with me formally (i.e. with a tape recorder) about their practices in Ponta Negra because of the stigma associated with paid sex in spite of my efforts to convey my intentions as debunking myths about sex tourism, while others were simply not interested in spending their time with a researcher while on their holiday. At times, they agreed to meet for an interview but then forgot or preferred spending their days visiting Natal or enjoying the beach. Brazilian women, too, were transient in these tourist spaces. Some of them lived in other parts of Natal and would come to Ponta Negra only on weekends; others frequented the neighbourhood only during the peak seasons. Some women rotated between different cities depending on the periods; and still others came from peripheral zones of Natal and returned there after a night out or a day at the beach, leaving little time to conduct interviews. Indeed, time constraints were a significant obstacle as many women viewed meeting with a researcher to be time that could be spent in Ponta Negra’s tourist spaces meeting foreign men, whether to date or go on programa.  23  They ranged in age from 29 to 62 years old, with an average age of 42. Half of them were Italians (7), and I also interviewed men from Portugal (2), Germany (2), France (1), Belgium (1), Norway (1), and Holland (1). Four of them were expatriates and owned businesses in Ponta Negra: a guesthouse, a travel agency, a real estate agency, and a bar. The remaining European men were tourists and all but one of them had previous experience traveling in Natal (see appendix 1).   49 In my previous research (Carrier-Moisan 2005), I had used the snowball technique successfully, and thought that since I was in the same region, I could expect that a similar method would provide a similar result. In Cascavel, a small interior town in the state of Ceará, I had met many factory workers because I rented a house from one of them. She had introduced me to several women, who in turn had put me in contact with many other women, and so forth and so on. In Ponta Negra, I had not anticipated the difficulties associated with this strategy and that a woman would introduce me to a small, enclosed, bounded group. While women were friendly toward each other, a common utterance was, “in this life, there are no friends” – and indeed, women tended to identify closely with one or two women, and to be on their guard for other women given the highly competitive nature of the environment in which they engaged. A couple of women had come together from their hometown, including sisters, cousins, or friends. Thus there were distinct groups of women that competed against one another for foreign men’s attention. Although I was not in these spaces for the same reasons as the Brazilian women I sought to interview, I was a woman who frequented these sexualized spaces, and was sometimes considered to be “competition,” even if I was a foreign woman. Furthermore, my close association with specific groups of women (e.g. Bebel and her colegas) marked me as one of them, restricting my access to other women, who simply ignored me or refused to talk to me. I thus constantly had to develop new ties and never had this moment when an interview was the ‘key’ entry point allowing me ‘in’. Another important aspect is that women did not identify as a collective group (even those who considered themselves garotas de programa) and kept a distance from the local association of sex  50 workers, ASPRO-RN. Therefore I could not rely on the outreach work of local associations or NGOs, as these did not target the women I intended to study, including both those who identified as garotas, and those who engage in ambiguous relationships with foreigners. 24  My dissertation also draws upon countless informal conversations I had with dozens of foreign men, Brazilian women, local residents, workers in the tourism industry, and bars, restaurants, hotels or nightclubs owners. These informal conversations were recorded in my field notes along with other observations and in crucial ways they inform my understanding of sex tourism in Ponta Negra. I met several Brazilian women whom I ultimately did not interview for various reasons – including their sudden departure or lack of time – but who volunteered pertinent information about sex tourism.25 I also had on- going conversations and interactions with the men and women I interviewed. The material and discursive practices I observed reveal important aspects that interviews alone cannot provide. Collaborations in the Field During the field research period, I developed collaborative ties with Lita, a sociology graduate student from Spain doing a pilot study on sex tourism in Natal. She spent six weeks in Ponta Negra in the months of August and September and rented an  24  For instance, Williams notes, in her research on sex tourism in Salvador, Northeast Brazil:  “In terms of access, I found that in some ways it was more convenient and efficient to focus on Aprosba, because it gathered together a group of women who self-identified as sex workers (or prostitutes, as the case may be). It was much harder to gain access to women and men who did not self-identify as sex workers, or who were not mobilized as a group” (2010: 13). While in her case she resolved the challenge of finding interviewees by turning to Asproba, the local association of sex workers, in my research settings there was a rigid distinction between the association of sex workers (ASPRO-RN) and garotas de programa engaging with foreigners, not to mention the women who had ambiguous relationships with foreign men. Given my research aims, it was not an option for me to find interviewees via the association of sex workers. 25  Among these different informal conversations, those with Monica (Bebel’s cousin) and Claudia (Bebel’s colega) were particularly illuminating and occurred over the course of several encounters; I rely on these informal conversations in Chapter 4 and Chapter 2, respectively.  51 apartment in my building. We agreed to collaborate, albeit working on separate projects, and during these few weeks, we went to the bars, nightclubs, restaurants, and beaches together. We conducted five interviews together (see Appendix 1), discussed our impressions and observations, shared our field notes, and developed a reading group on sex tourism along with another student, a Brazilian woman also researching sex tourism in Natal. This collaboration was particularly fruitful to confirm patterns I had observed in Ponta Negra and to converse about the methodological challenges encountered, and thus, it informs in various ways the findings in this dissertation. My husband, Billy, also worked as a research assistant for me in his capacity as sociologist and ethnographer. During the last five months of my fieldwork (late January- June) when he joined me in the field, he conducted participant observation in the bars, nightclubs, restaurant, and at the beach about a dozen times. He wrote field notes, and told me about his observations and the conversations he had with English-speaking tourists. His experience was distinct from mine, as he could blend in easily in the bars and nightclubs as a European man in his early thirties, matching the demographics of the average foreign tourist.  Indeed, when frequenting the bars together, we could pass as a Brazilian/foreigner couple in the eyes of some of the tourists (but not in those of the Brazilian women!). His encounters with foreigners were thus mediated by his position in the field; as a European, male tourist, foreign men spoke with him in different ways than they would with me. For instance, a Spanish tourist once told him: “It must be hard to be here with your wife!” assuming a shared experience in the bars and nightclubs of Ponta Negra by virtue of being a European man. Importantly, however, these foreign men did more than comment on women’s bodies and sexual prowess as one might have assumed,  52 and revealed to Billy their complex feelings about Brazilian women and their views on intimacy. The conversations he had with them thus complemented mine in many ways, and helped to provide further depth to my ethnographic findings as well as confirm my own understanding of their practices. His research assistance particularly contributed to Chapter 4, in which I draw from his field notes and the informal conversations he had with foreign men. Researching the Campaigns against Sex Tourism My interest in the campaigns against sex tourism emerged as a result of various conversations I had in Ponta Negra with a wide range of people, including: local residents; Brazilian women seeking to encounter foreigners; bar, restaurant, hotel owners; workers in the tourism industry; members of associations of residents or business owners; NGO workers; feminist activists, etc. I became particularly intrigued by the state policing of the beach and the quasi-criminalization of prostitution that resulted from the opposition to sex tourism in Natal, as well as by the conflation of adult and child sex tourism, and the confusions resulting from it. I developed a collaborative relationship with the Coletivo Leila Diniz, a feminist collective critical of the state’s economic development policies and of the ways the alarmist campaigns against sex tourism of various state and non-state actors tended to displace important issues, i.e. structural inequalities, lack of job opportunities, and the uneven benefits of tourism development. The collective provided me with institutional, intellectual, and emotional support while in Natal. Members accompanied me in the field, gave me tours of the neighbourhood, and provided me with relevant information regarding organized events that dealt with sex tourism in one way or another. I also accompanied the feminist collective to the city of  53 Salvador to participate in the Forum Social Nordestino from August 2 to 5. The Forum Social Nordestino is a mini-version of the World Social Forum; it is a regional encounter with different organizations involved in a wide range of social movements in the Northeast region of Brazil.  I took part in sessions addressing sex tourism and/or sex trafficking. In August 2007, I also attended a public forum at Natal city hall where various groups discussed sex tourism, including the Polícia Rodoviária Federal (Federal Police of the Road) and the NGOs Casa Renascer and Resposta. In March, I participated in a protest in Natal in which opposition to sex tourism was one of the many elements on the agenda; the protest targeted global capitalism, including the global commodification of women’s bodies. I also interviewed state and non-state actors campaigning against sex tourism, including the NGOs Resposta, Casca Renascer, and Pau e Lata, the associations of residents and/or business owners AME Ponta Negra and AR de Ponta Negra,  26   as well as the secretary of tourism for the city of Natal and the state of Rio Grande do Norte. In addition, I collected campaign materials from these various groups for analytical purposes, some of which are presented in Chapter 3. I had not anticipated finding opposition to sex tourism from local businesses, given the economic benefits sex tourism generated to this sector. Furthermore, I was surprised to learn of the existence of local associations of residents and/or business owners dedicated to fighting sex tourism, and I eventually met with a few of the founding members of these organizations. These various groups had different understandings of sex tourism; they campaigned for distinct reasons,  26  AME Ponta Negra translates as Love Ponta Negra and stands for Associação de Moradores, Empresários e Amigos de Ponta Negra (Association of Residents, Businessmen, and Friends of Ponta Negra). AR de Ponta Negra translates as Ponta Negra’s Air, and stands for Associação Representativa de Ponta Negra  (or Representative Association of Ponta Negra) but its founder explained it was an association created to represent the interests of business owners.  54 but when taken together, their campaigning strategies were particularly significant, serving various political interests and reflecting local spatial tensions as I demonstrate in Chapter 3.  Since many businesses voiced their opposition to sex tourism, created associations or posted signs against sex tourism on their entrance doors barring certain women from entering their establishments, it became important to document this opposition. I conducted interviews with some of them, consulted their websites, and visited their establishments. I also consulted the archive of newspaper articles collected by the NGO Resposta on sex tourism, and conducted further research using the Internet and the key words “turismo sexual” and “Natal” on Google search Engine and through the web search engine of the following newspapers: Diário de Natal and Tribuna do Norte.  I opted to begin from when the massive opposition began, in 2005 up until 2008, when I ended my research. The goals were: to understand the recent context that had given rise to the opposition to sex tourism; to confirm the stories I was told by various actors; to get a sense of the public debates on sex tourism; to understand when and why sex tourism was talked about; and to document the various responses, interventions, and campaigns that ensued. I also engaged in discussion at the federal university (The Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte), where sex tourism was debated, and I consider this to be another space where sex tourism was made into an important public issue. Through these various research strategies – participant-observation in social movements, interviews with both state and non-state actors, analysis of the campaign materials, archival research in newspapers – I was able to document the campaigns against sex tourism from various angles and to situate them within their own micro-local contexts. I  55 discuss these campaigns and the many different interventions to end sex tourism in Chapter 3.  Methodological and Ethical Challenges This dissertation deals with women who are often written about and spoken for and not evenly positioned to participate in the production of knowledge about themselves. In the spirit of feminist, critical ethnography, I seek here to acknowledge the process of knowledge production and the ways in which my position mediates both the research process and the production of this dissertation. As an outsider occupying various spaces of privilege, i.e. as a white, Canadian, university educated, heterosexually married woman granted money to conduct research, I am far removed from the experience of the women in my study. Interviewing women who differ from me and were positioned unequally in relation to me was challenging, and although we could find connections (as women; as surfers; as people involved in intimate relationships spanning borders) these points of similarity and shared experiences could not erase the power differentials that mediated our relationships. During the research process, I tried to make my privileges obvious rather than downplaying them because I thought that it was one way to make apparent how their experience as women was mediated by various intersections of oppression. For instance, our distinct spatial experiences in Ponta Negra or in crossing borders, helped to put into sharper relief the inequalities of race, class, sexuality and nationality shaping their lives. I voiced my criticism of those seeking to rescue them, making it clear to the women that I was not another “rescuer” seeking to save them from evil foreigners, and I told them that I wanted to challenge misguided preconceptions of  56 their experiences and practices. Women commonly expressed that they often felt judged for engaging in implicit or explicit forms of paid sex, and reacted positively to my approach by agreeing to talk informally with me. Prior to researching sex tourism in Ponta Negra, I did not anticipate how tense and divisive this topic would be. I knew that there would be differences between distinct stakeholders, but there were also various positions and interests within each of them. For instance, foreign men sought to distinguish themselves from the “real bad tourist;” Brazilian women disagreed on whether going de graça (for free) with foreigners was fine. Business owners had opposing views on the impacts of sex tourism for their business; and NGOs disagreed on how to best campaign against sex tourism. These groups thus had different views on how my research could be beneficial to them, a situation that posed challenges to efforts at reciprocity and collaboration, especially when interests were particularly divergent. I am thus concerned to honour my interviewees and their trust in my ability to represent them respectfully, especially given the contested nature of sex tourism as a topic. I tried to remain honest about my intentions throughout the research process, and I explained to my interviewees that my position did not stem from a moralistic stance on prostitution nor a victim/pervert understanding of those taking part in it. I told them that in trying to understand sex tourism in Ponta Negra, I was hoping to challenge stereotypical understanding of the men and women taking part in it, and preconceptions about the phenomenon. I did not shy away from presenting myself as a feminist, nor did I refrain from criticizing the campaigns against sex tourism. Ultimately, my dissertation may not suit the agendas of all, but I hope that the  57 representations that emerged from the process of writing are accurate enough so that the various stakeholders I describe would recognize themselves and find my depictions fair. In Ponta Negra, I was seen as a tourist and it did not matter that I was also an anthropologist. For the locals, I was a gringa, that is, a female foreign tourist. Many suspected that my “research” was an excuse to justify my presence in these highly sexualized spaces. Some Brazilian women assumed that I, too, was there to meet foreigners; others thought that maybe I was a lesbian interested in Brazilian women. A woman once even asked me, while I was in one of the nightclubs, whether I was working as a garota de programa. She thought that maybe, since it was such a popular spot, some gringas had begun to venture into selling sex abroad. As a gringa, I was positioned in relationships that were highly commodified and thus, I was part of the tourism economy even when I thought I was not. The interactions I had with local people blurred intimacy and money and helped, to some degree, elucidate the ambiguity that characterizes relationships between locals and tourists in Ponta Negra. At times, I too was expected to pay in situations that were not clearly demarcated as commercial and that were blurring intimate ties with market ones. This was communicated implicitly rather than directly, in ways similar to, I assume, the ways that obligations and expectations were communicated to foreign men. In other words, as a gringa, I was able to grasp the experience of being a foreigner – but of course, this experience was mediated by my gender. Foreigners, too, saw me primarily as a gringa. For some, it meant that I was often included as one of them and they assumed a shared foreign identity distinct from a Brazilian one. They thus made comments that helped elucidate their understanding of  58 Brazil as a distinct place and of Brazilian women as drastically different from European women. I was even, at times, considered European; I was, by virtue of being from North America, and a native French speaker, closer to Europe and thus positioned as able to “get” the differences to which they alluded. I remained, however, primarily a woman, and thus, an outsider to the many experiences they had as men. Although I see these men as occupying spaces of power and privilege that are reproduced in Ponta Negra through structures that privilege their western masculinity, I hope to portray these men as the complex subjects they revealed themselves to be, rather than as the perverts or evil, violent sex tourists they are often made out to be in public discussions of sex tourism (see also Constable 2003). A final, but important note: my research does not address the topic of juvenile prostitution in tourism or the sexual exploitation of children and adolescents in tourism. I interviewed only garotas de programa older than 18 years old. While the age of consent for sexual activities is 14 years old in Brazil, the prostitution of minors under 18 years old is punished by Brazilian, federal law (Statute of Child and Youth of 1990, article 244-A; Penal Code, articles 218-B; 227, 230; 231; 231-A). Prostitution is not illegal in Brazil, while its incitement and facilitation are, and the category ‘sex worker’ is even recognized by the Ministry of Labour and Employment in its national Classification of Professional Occupations following lobbying efforts on the part of associations of sex workers in Brazil (Rede Brasileira de Prostitutas 2007; Ministério do Trabalho e Emprego 2007). 27  Yet, the legality of prostitution does not necessarily translate into its moral and social  27  While prostitution appears to be state-sanctioned and even includes sex with tourists in the description of the competences and activities linked to prostitution, the state is also actively involved in controlling this activity – especially in the realm of sex tourism, with the policing of beaches (Folha online 2007), the distribution of condoms with warning against traffic in women (Camacho 2005), and the attempts to eradicate the phenomenon, with the help of NGOs (World Vision 2010).  59 acceptance, and in Natal, the campaigns against sex tourism provided the legitimate grounds for backlash against prostitution, an aspect I explore in Chapter 3. In the following chapter, I turn to an examination of the concept of “sex tourism,” seeking to capture its imbrications in the daily, intimate practices of low-income, racialized Brazilian women in Ponta Negra.  60 Chapter 2: Between Namoro 28  and Programa: Sex Tourism in Ponta Negra  Relatively new, the term sex tourism now circulates widely in various parts of the globe, and has been adopted in both popular and scholarly productions. Sex tourism is the subject of novels (Houellebecq 2001), fiction films (Cantet 2005), documentary films (Araújo 2008; O’Rourke 1991), extensive news coverage (e.g. Jornal da Globo 2006), international campaigns (World Vision 2010; ECPAT 2010), statements, and codes of conduct (UNWTO 1995; ECPAT 2010), in addition to featuring prominently in scholarly work in the social sciences. Yet the meaning of sex tourism, both in popular representations and scholarly work, remains rather elusive. Does it refer to the sexual exploitation of children in tourism (Pruth 2007)? Or is it synonymous with any tourist- oriented prostitution between consenting adults (Cohen 1982; 1986)? Does the term include tourism in Amsterdam’s red-light district (Wonders and Michalowski 2001)? Or does sex tourism constitute a feature of the Global South, and thus is necessarily marked by economic and/or racial inequalities (Sanchez Taylor 2001; O’Connell Davidson 1995, 1996)? Does sex tourism encompass the practices of female western travelers (de Alburquerque 1998; O’Connell Davidson 1998; Sanchez Taylor 2001), or is “romance tourism” more appropriate to describe this phenomenon (Pruitt and LaFont 1995)? And what about those seeking marriage, love, and intimacy in tourism (Cabezas 2009)? Can we frame their practices alongside those who uniquely exchange sex for money in tourism? In spite of this elusiveness, the term “sex tourism” is used in various campaigns and has been adopted by scholars, politicians, NGOs, media, and local populations alike.  28  Namoro translates as courtship.  61 What is sex tourism then? And is the concept useful to think about the practices of the Brazilian women and foreign tourists I discuss in this dissertation? In this chapter, I engage with the scholarship on sex tourism and suggest that studies of this topic need to further emphasize its ambiguous nature. I begin with a critical examination of the concept of sex tourism, suggesting that it remains an important analytical tool, albeit one fraught with conceptual problems and limitations. Drawing on my ethnographic data, I consider the blurring of affect and money as an integral part of sex tourism in Ponta Negra, and thus I disrupt interpretations of sex tourism as exclusively synonymous with prostitution. I argue that the ambiguity of sex tourism mediates women’s ability to exert control and choice in distinct ways due to the blur of spheres commonly understood as separated, such as work/leisure, intimacy/market, or love/money. I also describe what women term the “glamour” and the “decadence” of essa vida (this life). Overall, my goal in this chapter is to provide a sense of “essa vida” and what women mean when they say they hope to “sair dessa vida”, or to get out of this life.  The Troubles with “Sex Tourism” As the introductory quotes to this chapter suggest, scholars of sex tourism increasingly recognize the conceptual problem with the term “sex tourism” and point to its limits in grasping the experience of those deemed affected by it.  In its popular meaning, sex tourism is often understood as prostitution-oriented tourism, 29  and the term  29  Clift and Carter capture in a few words a widespread, but narrow understanding of sex tourism, proposing that “attempts at defining sex tourism rapidly become problematic, but a normal working definition is taken as travel for which the main motivation is to engage in commercial sexual relations” (2000: 6). This conception is rather limited: to begin with, tourists rarely travel with the sole purpose of having sex (Oppermann 1999: 256), and sex tourism includes more than prostitution, as will become apparent in this chapter (see also Cabezas 2004; 2009; Piscitelli 2007; Williams 2010).  62 often conjures up images of creepy, aging, white, male tourists exploiting young, poor, Third World prostitutes – a vision that is also found in some of the scholarship on sex tourism. 30  Yet as the work of many scholars suggest, sex tourism neither can be reduced to prostitution (Cabezas 2004; 2009; Fosado 2004; Oppermann 1999; Piscitelli 2006; 2007b; 2006; Ryan 2000; Ryan and Hall 2001; Williams 2010) nor to an implicit pathologization of foreign men and a parallel victimization of local women (Silva and Blanchette 2005; Williams 2010). Sex tourism, as these scholars have shown, encompasses more than an exchange of sex for money and may even lead to romantic love, leisure, travel, consumption, adventure, migration, social mobility, and marriage (Brennan 2004; Cabezas 2009; 2004; Gregory 2007; Kempadoo 2004; Oppermann 1999; Piscitelli 2004a). Furthermore, this stereotypical vision is challenged by empirical studies of African American sex tourism (Williams 2010); female sex tourism (de Alburquerque 1998; Frohlick 2009; 2007; O’Connell Davidson 1998; Sanchez Taylor 2001); and gay sex tourism (Fosado 2004; Padilla 2007) as well as sex tourism in the West, or Global North (Wonders and Michalowski 2001). In an effort to grasp the complexity and diversity of sex tourism, Chris Ryan defines it as “sexual intercourse while away from home” (2000:36), which includes basically any sexual act that may or may not be commercialized that occurs while travelling. This comprises, according to him, practices as disparate as travels to attend the  30  For instance, O’Connell Davidson insists on the fatness and ugliness of the British sex tourists she saw in Thailand in the context of sex tourism: “large numbers of sex tourists are either physically repellent by European standards (I have never seen so many enormously overweight men together in one place before), or disfigured or disabled in some way, or too old to be considered sexually attractive”(1995: 54).  This view reflects a popular and widespread image of the typical sex tourist, but should not be taken as representative of all male tourists who buy sex in all locations. Furthermore, this view tends to individualize and pathologize foreign men who have paid sex while travelling. Recent ethnographies provide a rich, and more complex portrayal of the men buying sex while travelling (Brennan 2004; Gregory 2007; Kempadoo 1999; 2004; Padilla 2007).  63 Pride Parade in San Francisco, visits to the red-light district in Amsterdam, Spring breaks in the United States in which sex/romance occurs, child sex tourism, strip club tourism, sex trafficking, and heterosexual prostitution in tourism. As he proposes, “there is no single paradigm of sex tourism, but many” (2000: 24) 31.  There are potential problems, however, with this broad understanding of sex tourism; if we can lump together traffic in women with holiday romance or child sex tourism with attending a pride parade, then it becomes difficult to make analytical sense of what constitutes sex tourism and potential issues of power encompassed within it. I thus find myself rather hesitant to use the term “sex tourism” as it may confuse more than illuminate the issues and practices I seek to discuss here. Nonetheless, I still use the term sex tourism in this dissertation, not because I think it has an essential, core meaning that I will uncover here, but rather because it has acquired diverse local meanings. In spite of its elusiveness, I consider that the term sex tourism remains salient and an important analytical tool because the term circulated among several groups of people in Natal, including the media, the state, local associations of residents and business owners, workers in the tourism industry, tourists, sex workers, Brazilian women dating foreigners, and local residents, to name but a few.  In Ponta Negra, sex tourism was on everybody’s lips, even in settings where I would not necessarily expect to hear about it, including at home with my roommate or landlady, at the grocery store, overhearing a conversation between the cashier and customers, and at the beach, on my time “off” while taking a surf lesson. I had begun this research thinking the term “sex tourism” was highly problematic, given the confusion over its meanings,  31  Other scholars share this broad understanding of sex tourism, see for instance, Oppermann (1999), Clift and Carter (2000) or Ryan and Hall (2001).  64 and refrained from using it when introducing my research and myself. I was interested in understanding the relationship between brasileiras (Brazilian women) and gringos (foreign men) as I would often say. Almost invariably, however, the person I spoke to would reply: “you mean sex tourism?” I soon realized that it was a particularly loaded term and a controversial topic that seemed to affect everyone in Ponta Negra. 32  Yet, given the salience of sex tourism in Ponta Negra, it remains important to attend to its materiality, to try to grasp this thing called “sex tourism”, and to find ways to render its complex material expressions.  But where to begin when sex tourism is such a politically charged, potentially confusing, even harmful term? And how can I avoid being complicit in the making of an objectified and objective truth about sex tourism, and especially about those involved in it? This is a complex task, even more given the limits of my position, as an outsider or an out-of-place gringa aware of the legacy of both anthropological depictions invested in processes of othering and projects meant to rescue poor, victimized, Third World prostitutes (Doezema 1998; Mohanty 1988; Abu-Lughod 2002). It is impossible to escape the politics of representation and I claim here neither objectivism, nor do I pretend to “give voice” to marginalized women, for this entails its own polemics, its own politics: which voices, to begin with? There are only “partial truths” (Clifford 1987) we were once told. But partial truths do not operate on an equal, level playing field. As critical feminist ethnographers have shown, some ‘truths’ have more weight, considerations, and recognitions than others (e.g. Cole 2003: 5-15). Both popular and scholarly representations of sex tourism strike me as carrying an important, even overwhelming “truth”; sex tourism continues to be seen as synonymous with  32  The phrase “traffic in women” did not circulate in the same manner, albeit it was an important aspect of the campaign against sex tourism which I discuss in Chapter 3.  65 prostitution and women’s exploitation. My ethnography makes apparent the problems with these assumptions, and the processes of exclusions, marginalization, stigmatization, and victimization such assumptions entail.  Blurring Heterosexual Male Sex Tourism As I discussed with Lara, she suddenly puts her hand over my thigh, and said: “‘I’m here to arrange someone”, then paused, and added “well you know it’s so slow these days, I would even go with a woman tonight”. She was looking at me, intensively. She was offering me a programa, as I was, for her, a “gringa lesbica” – a lesbian foreigner. Why else would I be in this bar, alone? My status as a “researcher” seems more like an alibi to be there – the only white, foreign woman in the bar. Excerpts adapted from my field notes, September 19 th , 2007  Yesterday, I went to the Matrix, with Lita, the Spanish sociologist. A short, masculine Brazilian woman wearing cargo khaki pants and a white shirt invited me to dance with her friends. I’ve seen her before in the other nightclubs and noticed her presence, as she spent her time at the bar, watching the other women. This is rather rare in the nightclubs catering to tourists in Ponta Negra.  I thought maybe her girlfriend was working the bars, but no, as I chat with her, I realized she is there to flirt and watch the spectacle of these young, highly sexualized, Brazilian women. She must assume I am in there for the same reasons as hers. She asked me whether Lita was a friend or not – and I said yes, aware she was trying to know whether we could be more than friends. I know she was thinking we were probably interested in women, too. So she asked me where I was from, how many times I had been in Brazil, and then she asked me whether I like men only. Excerpts adapted from my field notes, September 13 th , 2007  Following the innovative work of scholars who seek to “queer” sex tourism (Fosado 2004; Padilla 2007; Williams 2010), I address here, even if only partially, the diversity encountered in Ponta Negra – queer and otherwise.  Brazilian women would notice me – as a gringa – in the bars (whereas I could pass as Brazilian for some foreigners), and wonder about my presence, especially after a couple of months. I did receive offers of programa, to my own surprise, as one of the introductory vignettes to this section suggests. On more than one occasion, I suspected subtle flirting, and close to the end of my stay, I was told by Larissa, a woman I interviewed, that she thought I was  66 interested in meeting Brazilian women when she first saw me in the bars, as I stood out in the spaces where only gringos and garotas would seek to encounter one another. My repeated visits to the clubs and bars attracted attention, and I knew the regulars were observing me, intrigued, and trying to figure out what I was seeking in those spaces of erotic cross-cultural encounters. The fact that I could be cast as a gringa lesbica meant that programa between women could happen, albeit discretely (and never to my knowledge). While there was a lot of gossip around women’s bisexuality or lesbianism, none of the women I interviewed openly identified as such. I did meet women on two occasions in committed homosexual relationships who engaged in paid sex with foreigners, including a woman who had married a Norwegian man but managed to live partly in Natal, partly in Norway. While in Brazil, she resided with her female partner, under no suspicions from her husband, who spent the majority of his time in Norway. This seems to suggest that self-identified lesbian women too blurred the distinction between affect/money, private/public, and authenticity/performance  – yet I suspect in unique ways that would deserve further attention. As one of my vignettes illustrates, I also met a lesbian Brazilian woman who frequented the bars for voyeurism and for flirting, much like many of the male tourists. I can only speculate, for now, as to the extent and meanings of these practices, as I could not get closer to any of these women. Their presence was mostly notable in the Portal, a nightclub that attracted a varied clientele, and where I noticed women flirting with each other.  I believe these practices were amongst the most marginalized, and it was only through my subject position as a gringa that I could come to know of the existence of an underground lesbian scene (I believe mostly for local Brazilian women).  67 The gay male scene was rather marginal too, as Frederico, an Italian identifying as gay I interviewed, told me. In the neighbourhood of Ponta Negra, there was “nothing” for him, with few exceptions. Indeed, apart from an isolated area at the southern part of the beach, where local gay men meet one another, Ponta Negra appears as a space dominated by heterosexuality. Antonio would usually frequent the nightclubs in Natal’s downtown, where there were very few, if any, other gringos. Yet in spite of this lack of a gay scene, he was still in Natal because he thought that it was a much more liberal place than his native town in Italy and he narrated to me how he was impressed at the sight of men dancing as couples in one of these nightclubs. Antonio enjoyed the beach, the surf, and the few possibilities to have sex with Brazilian men he imagined as endowed with a tropical sexuality, much like heterosexual tourists would for Brazilian women. Yet unlike Padilla (2007), I did not discover a niche-market for sexual/economic encounters between local men and gay tourists in Ponta Negra. The presence of a few travestis (male-to-female transsexuals) was visible in Ponta Negra, albeit in back alleys or nearby the nightclubs, but not necessarily in the main nightclubs. There was a group of three or four of them, which I noticed mostly early in my fieldwork and on other rare occasions afterwards. They would usually hang out together by night in the Salsa street or by the deserted beach, and from time to time, enter the clubs. I rarely, if ever, saw them at the beach by day; within the larger cityscape, travestis tended to frequent the areas of the city known for the local street prostitution scene. They were thus frequenting more marginalized spaces closely associated with difficult working conditions, meagre wages, and potential harm. None of the tourists I met admitted being interested in travestis or trans women but I heard several stories of  68 foreign men being ‘lured’ into sex with travestis. Spanish tourists visiting Natal indeed reported a similar deceit in a Spanish newspaper (Marin 2006). The trope reinforces Ponta Negra as a space of heteronormativity, with the idea, as expressed in the media coverage and through gossip, of a ‘fake woman’ luring an unsuspecting tourist; yet, while no tourist admitted to engaging in sex with travestis, I suspect that some foreign men in Natal were also seduced by what Ross (2012) describes as the ‘full-package deal’ (i.e. male genitals with female attributes). Since I did not interview any trans women or travestis, it is rather difficult to engage with the ways in which they, too, blur affect/money in the context of sex tourism; however I would suspect that they also capitalize on the private/public blur that operates in tourism. Indeed, in the documentary film Cinderelas, Lobos e um Príncipe Encantado (Araújo 2008), Camila, a self-identified travesti, explains that foreign men bring her to shopping malls (and according to her, they do not suspect she is a travesti); she also says she once fell in love with a foreign man, but thinks gringo love is an illusion. According to her, she fell in love because he paid her 1200 reais for a night together.  It would be interesting to probe further the specific ways in which travestis further play with the romance that many tourists are looking for – a project I leave to others. In addition to marginal queer spaces, there were other ways in which sex tourism was rather diverse; I saw a couple of disabled tourists in wheelchairs, for instance. I also met female travelers seeking to date Brazilian men, including a Dutch mother with her two teenage daughters, which generated a lot of local gossip, as both mother and daughters were seen in the presence of young Brazilian men, who received gifts, money, and other benefits from the women. I too, was chased after by Brazilian men, and learnt  69 that albeit in discreet ways, men also engaged in commercial sex with female tourists in Ponta Negra. I noticed in the more isolated parts of the beach some Brazilian men that I came to recognize as caça-gringas (gringa-hunters), including a local tourist guide. I saw him with young-looking gringas with whom he would parade, but I also saw him with a 50 year-old white woman in a remote part of the beach where he seemed to be hiding. I can only speculate as to the reason for this, but assume that it was rather uncommon and stigmatized for a young man to engage in romantic-sexual relationships with older women. I also met two Norwegian women who were regulars to Ponta Negra on their third trip, and engaging in (paid) sex with local Brazilian men. They were noticeable, like I was, and when I approached them they willingly shared with me their experiences, which strangely bore more resemblances to that of their fellow Norwegian male travelers than I would have initially assumed. The presence of other gringas was mostly notable at the beach, and in bars catering to the local middle class and university students. There, from time to time, gringas were also seen, usually in the company of a group of young Brazilian men dancing with them and accompanying them at the beach by day. The presence of these few gringas in Ponta Negra, and their imbrications in affective/sexual/economic exchanges indicate that it is important not to make assumptions about the gendered nature of sex tourism. If sex tourism in Ponta Negra was overwhelmingly heteronormative, heterosexual, and gendered female, there was also some diversity, albeit in the margins. Unlike elsewhere in Brazil, such as the gay scene in Rio de Janeiro, or the heterosexual female sex tourism in Pipa and Jericoacoara, Natal was a space marked by the reproduction of dominant, normative identities and practices. Throughout this  70 dissertation, I seek to shed light on this dimension, in an attempt to question the assumed heterosexuality of sex tourism. As argued by Gregory in the context of sex tourism in the Dominican Republic, “the privileging of heteronormative masculinity, locally and within international tourist industry, constructs sex work as female and heterosexual” (2003: 33). If Ponta Negra was a (hetero)sexualized space dominated by encounters between Brazilian women and foreign men, it was particularly fascinating, however, for the blur of affect and money characterizing these relationships to which I now turn. But first, I engage with the ways in which this blur has been problematized in the scholarship on sex tourism.  Thinking the Blur of Affect and Money in Sex Tourism  In spite of the recognition in the scholarship of the ambiguous nature of sex tourism, the point of departure, in most studies, remains sex work or prostitution. As Cabezas proposes: “the category of sex worker has remained unexamined and immutable within sex tourism research” (2004:991-2).33 Indeed, the language used in most studies reflects this pattern, as scholars discuss “sex workers”, “prostitutes” or “sex tourists” (e.g. Brennan 2004; Padilla 2007), even when these identities may not be those adopted by the protagonists in the study (Cohen 1982; O’Connell Davidson 1995; Padilla 2007; Sanchez Taylor 2001).  In his research among Dominican men involved in sexual/economic exchanges with male tourists in the Dominican Republic, Padilla (2007) recognizes that in spite of his uses of the term for analytical purposes, the term male sex worker, “occasionally creates conceptual slippages” (2007:15). This is in part due to the scarce  33  For recent, compelling work examining the category of sex worker, see Cabezas (2009) and Williams (2010).  71 utterance of the term, as it “is very rarely used in actual social discourse except in unusual cases in which men had experienced a significant amount of exposure to HIV/AIDS organizations” (2007: 15). Furthermore, in the course of his research, it became challenging to determine who belonged to the category of male sex worker, partly because of the difficulty of categorizing relationships with benefits that are non- monetary, “or when the instrumental aspects of the exchange are less explicit” (2007:15). These conceptual slippages are often times left unexamined in sex tourism research, creating confusion over what the chosen terms and categories include. Because of the racial and economic inequality inherent in tourism from affluent countries to poor tropical destinations, the mere presence of gifts or other benefits is also commonly seen as necessarily transforming the male or female tourists into “sex tourists” and the locals into “prostitutes” or “sex workers” (O’Connell Davidson 1995; Sanchez Taylor 2001).  In this view, buying a drink in a bar, sending remittances, and paying for a clearly defined sexual act are all the same: prostitution. The presence of gifts suggests that interpretations of romance or love are ignorant of the economic disparity between the tourists and the locals. The assumption is that inequalities define the relationships, and thus, only when the tourists and the locals share the same class does the possibility for mutual exchange arise. For instance, in her research on female sex tourism in the Caribbean, Sanchez Taylor (2001:756-7) argues that only those rare female tourists who engage in sex with middle class men are exempt from this label. Drawing on Yuval- Davis, she argues that “the exchange here is more on the basis of mutual pleasure than money for pleasure” (Yuval-Davis 1992: 52, cited in Sanchez Taylor 2001: 756-7). These women, according to Sanchez Taylor, represent “the exception rather than the  72 rule” (Sanchez Taylor: 2001: 757). I find this interpretation rather problematic for its assumption that middle class men (and women) do not engage in prostitution, for its presumption that all working class men (and women) are necessarily and exclusively driven by money when engaging in sex with tourists, and for its conclusion that all female (and by extension male) tourists having sex with partners unequally positioned economically are necessarily “clients” or “sex tourists”. “Mutual pleasure” and “money for pleasure” may at times be particularly difficult to distinguish or may be entangled within intimate relationships such as friends, lovers, boyfriends/girlfriends, or husbands/wives. For scholars such as Sanchez Taylor, there is thus a rigid distinction between “pure love” and “commercial sex” and any commercial dimension annihilates other interests such as the pursuit of romantic love, feelings of attraction and/or sexual pleasure (Zelizer 2005; Cabezas 2009). There is no room for ambiguities, nuances, complexities, and diversity and for the recognition of the plethora of practices that blur together love and commercial sex, sometimes making them indistinguishable.  As Cabezas (2009: 118) aptly proposes in the context of Caribbean sex tourism:  The underlying assumption is that ‘true’ love is about untainted intimacy, mutual pleasure, and emotional comfort; pure love is without monetary exchanges. When there are strategic behaviors that beget marriage offers, that beget visas, then these relationships become tainted, impure, and suspect. There seems to be no liminal space, only simplistic binaries, where women ultimately lose and men eventually gain. However, women’s tales of their experiences are often riddled with contradictions that suggest agency, multivalent meanings, and fluctuating situations. These relationships can be ephemeral, amorphous, and strategic, combining affect, money, mobility, and yes, even pleasure.  Thus, the presence of interests such as status, cultural capital, transnational migration, economic stability, and money does not always preclude love, affection, or  73 attraction. Furthermore, the presence of gifts, the buying of drinks, and the sending of remittances does not always mean that foreign men or women should be seen as “sex tourists”. As Zelizer proposes in the context of intimate relationships in North America, contrary to the common assumption that money necessarily corrupts intimacy, “people manage to integrate monetary transfers into larger webs of mutual obligations without destroying the social ties involved. Money regularly cohabits with intimacy, and even sustains it” (2005: 28).34 These mutual obligations, found in the context of sex tourism in Ponta Negra, are quite reminiscent of what Marcel Mauss (1967) describes as the complex cultural rules about appropriate forms of exchange; gift exchanges are never free according to him, but rather create a set of reciprocal obligations. Drawing on Mauss, Cabezas (2009: 123-129) explores the ways in which gifts define social ties in the context of heterosexual male sex tourism in the Caribbean. She proposes that:  “women referred to gifts not as payments in kind for services rendered but as a way to solidify and strengthen the affective connection” (123). In other words, they think of the gifts as creating mutual obligations and long-term, reciprocal, intimate ties. Thus the ambiguities of sex tourism allow for practices far more creative, complex, and contradictory than an either “pure love” or “commercial sex” framework does. I thus propose that ambiguity is a key “analytical tool” (Williams 2010:105; see also Fosado 2004) that allows us to further probe the experiences of those involved in sex tourism and to grasp the larger implications these have in terms of transnational migration, social mobility and border-crossings, among other things. It is my contention that the diffuse  34  Zelizer (2005: 27) provides several examples of such intimacies, including for instance parents paying nannies for the care of their children, immigrants sending remittances back home, friends giving loans of money to each other, parents paying to adopt babies, or parents helping their children financially with allowances, college education, and first mortgages.  74 nature of sex tourism in Ponta Negra is crucial in explaining why both tourists and locals engage in its practices. The reasons for this are complex, but as this chapter demonstrates, the affective and the material may come together without corrupting each other rather than existing as rigidly distinct spheres (Zelizer 2005; Cabezas 2009). Yet my focus on the ambiguous nature of sex tourism is not an invitation to celebrate these “romantic” encounters or to deny their deep imbrications in economic motivations. “Love” is socially constructed rather than universal and is imbricated in complex economic, political, social and cultural processes. As Kempadoo (2004: 43) proposes in the context of sex tourism in the Caribbean: Is it really possible to seize that universal, essential quality called love that transcends socially constructed meanings? More than a century ago, Frederik Engels argued that romantic love and desire were created as bourgeois fabrications in the drive to consolidate patriarchal capitalism. More recently it has been advanced that meanings of love and romance are enmeshed with consumption patterns and discourses, and have been transformed over the past century through social and economic change to become a part of the mass market and mass media culture. Can then histories of gendered, racialized, sexual relations be simply erased through the invocations of the supposedly universal quality of love?  Thus, love is here understood as something that is neither “pure” nor existing outside of its historical, political, social and cultural context. Love, to paraphrase Cheng (2010: 133), does not erase the power differentials between foreign men and Brazilian women, but rather mediates these.  Spatial Ambiguity in Ponta Negra The ambiguity characterizing sex tourism is an old observation, with some early studies referring to “open-ended” prostitution (Cohen 1986: 115), and more recent works referring to the freelance (rather than contractual) nature of the exchange between locals  75 and tourists (Sanchez Taylor 2001: 758; see also Kempadoo 2004; O’Connell Davidson 1995; 1998). Among the first to write about sex tourism, Erik Cohen describes these relationships as “ridden with ambiguities” (1982: 411) and notes the presence of emotional attachment, in addition to economic/sexual interest, for both Thai girls and foreign men in Bangkok. Similar ambiguities have been noted in a variety of contexts and settings associated with sex tourism, including in gay sex tourism in the Caribbean (Fosado 2004: 79; Padilla 2007: 149-153) or in female sex tourism in Kenya (Kibicho 2009) and Costa Rica (Frohlick 2009; 2007). In Brazil too, the affective and the commercial come together in a myriad of ways (Piscitelli 2007b; Williams 2010). Many scholars have proposed that the sexual exchanges that take place in the context of sex tourism are fluid and ambiguous because of the spatial configuration in which they take place:  in settings that are not strictly dedicated to commercial sex (not in strip clubs, red light districts or brothels) and considered to have an “atmosphere of ‘normality’, distanced from prostitution stereotypes” (Piscitelli 2007b: 492; see also Cabezas 2004; 2009: 118). Often times this atmosphere of normalcy is intentional on the part of business owners, given their understanding of what tourists are looking for: “easy access to women who do not seem to be prostitutes” (Piscitelli 2007b: 491). The landscape of tourism thus invites this ‘natural’ atmosphere, where encounters with eroticized women happen in ways seen as non-commercial: there is flirtation, seduction, conversations, and shared drinks.  As Cabezas proposes: “The transactions that take place are difficult to recognize and categorize as a form of labor; instead, the landscape of tourism lends itself more to interpretations of adventure and romance” (2004: 997).  This is certainly a key feature in Ponta Negra, and this explains the appeal of this place for  76 foreigners who imagined, in this tropical landscape of sun, sand and sea, women naturally endowed with hypersexuality willing to have sex with them. Ponta Negra, as a tourist space, suggests romance and casual sex encounters, rather than labour. During the year I spent in Ponta Negra from July 2007 to June 2008, the interactions between foreign male tourists and Brazilian women were deeply ambiguous. The spaces where foreigners and Brazilian women sought to meet one another were part of a tourist area, not a red-light district. By day, the beach of Ponta Negra was frequented by different groups of people, including local surfers, joggers, volleyball or soccer players, fishermen, hawkers, beachgoers, and kids playing together, contributing to an atmosphere of leisure, relaxation, and romantic pursuit. There were also domestic and international tourists who could be traveling alone, as couples, with their friends or with their children, in addition to the highly visible white male foreigners. Along the beach, some spots were recognized as points of encounter between gringos and garotas 35  but for the unknowing newcomer, the visible signs of commercial sex were not necessarily obvious. Even in the most visible spaces of exchange of sex for money, practices were not necessarily rigidly defined. 36  The long stretch of beach indeed offered several possibilities for diffuse forms of commercial sex, some women capitalizing on the  35  Garotas is a local diminutive for garotas de programa. The word garota (the singular form) literally means girl. 36  For instance, there was a resto-bar by the beach, the Marine Sea Hotel, which, along with the beach area facing it, stood out, in the beach landscape, for the obvious transactions happening there. It was where the most strictly defined transactions would take place – but these were not the only interactions taking place there. Because of the open nature of this resto-bar, some clients, among them, many expats, would gather together at a table in the late afternoon, to have a drink while watching the local women in the neighbouring tables, but not necessarily with the purpose to engage in paid sex. Their presence was often times noted by the Brazilian women who saw them as cafuzo – a term that came to connote, in this context, a man unwilling to pay or provide for a woman, in other words, a cheap man.  Some tourists – including couples of foreigners – would come to enjoy a meal or a drink there, due to its location by the beach, unaware that this place was a meeting point for gringos and garotas.  Several women who did not identify as sex workers, prostitutes, escorts, or garotas would also frequent this place, sometimes accompanied by their children, creating again, more fuzziness.  77 informal economy of the beach to meet foreign men through indirect means, such as offering massages or selling fruits, jewellery, clothing, and so on. The beach was thus a mixed space and facilitated encounters that could not be easily defined as pertaining to the realm of “sex work”. Yet while there was an important diversity of people at the beach, the presence of white foreign men accompanied by Brazilian women was also quite noticeable – at times even overwhelmingly visible because of their massive numbers, outnumbering the local couples. As a white foreign woman, I often felt “out-of- place” in Ponta Negra, given the presence of very few other gringas.37  Figure 5: A meeting point for foreign men and Brazilian women at Ponta Negra’s Beach (photo by author)  By night, the beach was mostly deserted, given that most of the nightlife had recently moved up the hill, following the closing of bars in the aftermath of the massive  37  Female international tourists were more likely to frequent Pipa, a nearby beach attracting surfers, located 80 km from Natal. Pipa is locally recognized as a hub for caça-gringa (literally, gringa-hunters, in reference to Brazilian men looking for sex/romance with foreign women).  78 police operation against sex tourism in 2006 that I discuss in the next chapter. Gringos and Brazilian women would meet in the Alto de Ponta Negra, seen as the high point of the nightlife, for both locals and tourists. In the nightclubs catering to gringos and Brazilian women, I also felt oddly out-of-place, even more so than at the beach, for I usually was the only gringa. With the exception of the nightclubs, for the passerby with no knowledge of the sex tourist scene, the Alto de Ponta Negra did not appear as a space of commoditized sex. Indeed, the Alto de Ponta Negra, much like the beach, was a rather mixed space, 38  with several fancy restaurants, small bars frequented by local university students and the middle class, reggae bars with few gringos (but from time to time, a couple of gringas, or female foreigners), as well as a youth hostel and adjacent pub catering to domestic and international backpackers. Their spatial proximity to the nightclubs catering to gringos and garotas facilitated an ambiguous context, where encounters in the nightlife could fall between the flirty and the highly commercialized. Given this diverse nightlife, the interactions between Brazilian women and foreigners could easily get fuzzy, as even when money was exchanged for sex, they would flirt, drink together, engage in conversations, dance, kiss, and sometimes, leave together for the man’s hotel room or a nearby motel. A tourist could buy a rose from the flower merchants who circulated in the bars and nightclubs and offer it to his partner. This blur was also at play during the day at the beach where gringos and Brazilian women (whether garotas de programa or not) would walk hand in hand, kiss each other, lie down together at the beach, go shopping in the nearby mall, eat in fancy restaurants, spend a couple of days together in one the neighbourhood beaches, or go on a dune  38  In Chapter 3, I discuss how this mixture creates spatial tensions and attempts at gentrification; in this chapter, I focus on how this diversity creates ambiguities.  79 buggy tour for the day. In this tourist landscape that invites romance, many gringos would make arrangements with a woman for a couple of days, a week, or a month. In exchange for an amount of money, usually agreed upon in advance (but not always), the woman was expected to spend most of her time with the tourist, which meant accompanying him at the beach, eating dinner with him, spending the night out with him sometimes until late in the bars and nightclubs, traveling with him to the neighbouring beaches, and having sex with him. The daily rate for this form of commercial sex was usually about the same amount of money as for a single programa yet many women said they preferred these long-term arrangements, especially during the low-season when it was more difficult to secure money with a quick trick. For instance, Mácia, a 32-year-old mother, whom I met in the open praça while she accompanied a young, blond, blue-eyed, multimillionaire Swedish tourist, later told me she preferred by far to accompany older men because they were more likely to hire a woman for several days or weeks, according to her own experience. When I asked her whether she chose the foreign men she would go with, she replied, “it depends on my needs!” before laughing and adding “sincerely, I choose men who are older.” She explained why: Because I feel good, I feel… (…) I don’t know how to explain. I think that… I prefer older men, because they are nicer, trustworthy, they like more to talk (…). Also because younger men they want a woman now, they’re done already and then the next day they take another, so it’s not my style. I prefer to give company, to be with a man for a week, and so usually older men like this.  Mácia had traveled with tourists to nearby beaches, eaten in fancy restaurants, and spent time with tourists in their hotels. The way it worked for her was that there was an agreement over the price beforehand: So he’ll say to you, ‘I’ll pay this much for you every day’ which is usually the same as if doing a programa, but you get leisure, you eat out, you receive gifts,  80 plus your pay every day.  It’s like going on holiday and making money, you understand? So this way it’s good! And depending on the person, a nice company, a good person, it’s great!  Whereas she could potentially make more money by doing several tricks a day, she still earned roughly the same amount as if she would perform a trick a day. Given the difficulty of securing a trick per day, especially during slower periods, Mácia preferred these arrangements, as she explained:  “You don’t have the problem of meeting, of waiting there [in the bars and nightclubs], so for me, this is better.”  The ambiguity of Ponta Negra was extremely important to Mácia, otherwise she would not have come to the bars and nightclubs. As she explained to me, she was temporarily in the sex trade hoping to find a man who would provide for her. She had previously worked as a waitress in one of the nightclubs catering to gringos and Brazilian women, where she had met a Norwegian tourist whom she dated for two years and whom she visited three times in Norway, eventually ending their relationship because she felt he was too “stressed out”.  This was when she began to systematically seek to go out with foreigners in exchange for money: After our relationship was over in January I started to go out, and pronto. I am still looking for a person who will help me, and with whom it’s something really serious, at my age, right? I’m 32, I had my son almost 13 years ago. I don’t want essa vida you know, I’m looking for a job because I don’t want to be here all the time, I don’t like it. I like to sleep in my house, I like to be quiet, I like a normal life and there [in the nightclubs] it’s not. I want stability. I want a normal life, a job, and if possible someone who would help me, and marry me or bring me to Europe! (laughing)  The ambiguities at play in Ponta Negra were thus crucial, for she hoped to meet a man and get involved in a legitimate relationship that would allow her to have economic stability, “a normal life” as she put it. Furthermore, Mácia could think of herself as distinct from a prostitute, a recurrent theme in my conversations with women. She did not  81 like the label prostitute or garotas de programa, seeing herself more like uma companhia (an escort):  “when we see ourselves as prostitutes, we behave accordingly. I don’t see myself like that. I see myself like a good company. I talk, I travel, I feel like, I am a good girl, I am a good person. So I don’t see myself like a garota de programa, a prostitute. I see myself like a companhia.” This process of distinction was quite common among the women I met and was contingent upon the possibility to migrate and marry. As I discuss further in Chapter 5, the ambiguity of sex tourism made it possible for women to establish their respectability and engage in various practices of distinction meant to establish their value and marriageability. For many women in Ponta Negra, acting as a companion or an escort was thus preferable because it opened the way for long-term, romantic relationships with foreigners and because it could later translate into experiences of upward mobility or economic stability, whether abroad or in Natal. Thus, some women would even agree to accompany a man without making any explicit arrangements, in the hope that he could eventually become a provider or partner. Bebel, for one, would often times have non- monetary exchanges with foreigners in the hope of securing significant departure gifts or marriage proposals. Once, she told me, under suspicion of being self-interested, she paid for her lunch to convince a Spanish man she was not a garota de programa. Later, she dated an Italian backpacker for two weeks without receiving anything in exchange – not even a departure gift she later complained – hoping he would eventually invite her to visit. Things would also get blurred in Ponta Negra given that many women who were not garotas de programa inserted themselves in the spaces recognized as points of  82 encounter between garotas and gringos, seeking romance with foreigners – a romance that could also include material benefits. As Claudia, a white, 37-year-old woman, self- identified as garota once explained to me, she had just recently begun to go on programas “before, I did not charge, I just dated” and would only namorar (court, date). She would go out with foreigners, get invited to have dinner in a nice restaurant, and act as their girlfriend during their stay – but without receiving cash for her company, just gifts or food in high-class restaurants. Yet, she insisted, for her to accept to namorar a gringo, he would have to treat her well, which meant, in her words “he has to spend, he has to please a woman, to treat her well”. She explained she eventually had enough of this because she felt she was always depending on the good will of foreigners to have a nice dress or a fancy meal. She had recently begun to ask directly for money preferring to make money she could manage, identifying only since then as a garota de programa. Whereas Claudia drew a fine line between namoro and programa, many women were not as consistent: if they met a man they liked on a night out while working, they could decide to simply flirt, rather than work. But even this line was sometimes difficult to mark: whether garotas de programa or not, on a night out women would say they were going to paquerar (flirt) with foreigners; and often times would refer to foreigners as their namorados (boyfriends) rather than their clients, even when engaging in direct commercial sex with them. “Where is your boyfriend?” (cade o seu namorado?) was a common way for friends to enquire about one another after a night out. Similarly, some women preferred to say they were making love (fazer amor) with men even when subsequently referring to the men as their clients. Felicidade, for instance, was explaining to me how the sex trade worked with tourists in Ponta Negra. She used the word “clients”  83 to refer to the foreign men, but then she said: “I look at the beach and in the restaurants in the late afternoon. They ask me to have a drink with them, and it ends up happening, we schedule for later. Some of them invite me for dinner, I agree, then we go dancing a little bit and then we make love.  And in this way, we become friends.” In her research among sex workers in Cuba and the Dominican Republic, Cabezas (2009: 119-120) found a similar blur, with the use of the term friend (amigo in Spanish) to refer to the tourists with whom women would have sexual/affective/commercial relationships: The term amigo challenges the notion that foreign acquaintances are simply clients; rather, it affirms the malleability of tourist-oriented relationships that can easily evolve and assume other diverse functions. Through this reluctance to completely commodify all their interactions with tourists, Dominican women expand and create multiple outcomes. The myriad arrangements exist along a continuum from informal ties of affection to commercialized heterosexual transactions that evolve and transform into socially ‘legitimate’ arrangements over time.  Similarly in Ponta Negra garotas de programa only partially commodified their relationships with foreign men, paving the way for intimate ties along a broad spectrum and allowing for the possibilities that these relationships could turn into long-lasting ones.  Ambiguous Intimacies: Private and Public Labours of Love There was a great deal of ambiguity because women had multiple, at times contradictory interests. This multiplicity of interests was well expressed during a conversation with Isabela, a 22 year-old woman self-identified as garotas de programa. In the following excerpt, she explains the different motivations women may when they seek to meet foreign men:  84 Isabela: All women have  (…) their intentions, depending on their situation. Some want social status, others are well-intentioned, others want love, and others just want money.  ME: And you?  Isabela: I don’t know what I want. Sometimes, I feel like I want to make money, money, money, money, but there are other times when the only thing I want is for him to come to sleep beside me, to call me amor (love), to give me affection.  Among the women who self-identified as garotas de programa, it was quite common to hear them insisting that they chose the men with whom they would have sex, saying, for instance: “I have to feel something for him” or “I choose, I don’t go with any men”. In practice, however, women were not always able to choose (due to financial need or during slow periods) – yet what is significant is that they insisted on the blurring of feelings seen as “private” with their “work” in the bars, nightclubs, and at the beach. The reasons for this were manifold; some sought to give an appearance of normalcy to relationships that were commoditized, in order to show their respectability, an aspect I explore further in Chapter 5. Others were after love, romance, or sexual pleasure with men they fetishize, as I touch on in Chapter 4, and others sought to emphasize their resourcefulness and skill at getting the men they wanted, given the highly competitive nature of the sex trade. What is significant, here, is that by saying that they choose men, by flirting with them, and by referring to them as their namorados, these women engage in practices of “emotional labour” (Hochschild 1983), quite distinct from those usually discussed in the literature on sex work (Chapkis 1997; Day 2007:35; Hoang 2010), including in strip clubs (Egan 2006; Frank 2002; Ross 2009: 164). Hochschild first developed the notion of emotional labour in reference to flight attendants, proposing an important distinction  85 between the management of feelings in the private sphere (emotional work), which has use value, and the commodification of feelings for profit (emotional labour), which has an exchange value. She defines emotional labour as “the management of feeling to create a publicly observable facial and bodily display” (1983: 7 footnote), a notion that has been widely applied in the literature on sex work (e.g. Chapkis 1997; Day 2007) and sex tourism (e.g. Brennan 2004; Williams 2010). These studies have compellingly shown how sex workers in various contexts report the maintenance of a strict distinction between their labour and their private life, separating sexual practices and intimate feelings performed at work from those they share with their intimate partners. Sex workers commonly describe how they either suppress feelings (of repulsion, disgust, displeasure) or express feelings (of genuine pleasure or attraction)  – a distinction that may not always hold in Ponta Negra. This does not mean, however, that sex workers may not experience sexual pleasure and feelings of attraction/affection for their clients (Chapkis 1997). Yet sex workers commonly seek to separate both realms and actively manage their public feelings in an attempt to satisfy their clients and make a profit. In contrast, in the context of sex tourism in Ponta Negra, the garotas de programa I met would often times insist on the importance of having feelings (of attraction or affection) to engage in sex with foreign men. At times, the women I interviewed, like the sex workers in these studies, also made a distinction between namoro and programa, and use emotional labour in Hochschild’s sense. However, here I am seeking to draw attention to what I see as a unique way of merging together their public and private feelings (and thus, in Hochschild’s definition, emotional work with emotional labour). In Ponta Negra, ideally, a woman seeks to engage in commercial sex with a man she has  86 feelings for, or alternatively, courts a man she finds attractive but still receives some material compensation in exchange. In other words, emotional work/labour permeates their everyday life in ways that challenge the public/private or work/leisure binaries. Similarly, I understand the practices of women in Ponta Negra slightly differently than the “love work” or “staging of attraction” noted in studies of sex tourism (Brennan 2004; Cohen 1982; 1986). These studies aptly reveal the processes whereby sex workers in the context of sex tourism “are hard at work selling romance along with the other goods and services they deliver” (Brennan 2004: 98), yet they also draw a rigid separation between feigned/real, authentic/performed, love/interest, and emotion/strategy. For instance, Cohen identifies the staging of attraction as crucial for Thai girls engaging in prostitution with male tourists in Bangkok. He proposes that, in Thailand, “the girls, particularly those who have more experience with the farangs [foreigners], are highly adept at staging attraction to their customers. They generally understate the mercenary aspect of the relationship and emphasize the emotional one” (1986:116) – usually leading to some confusion on the part of the customers over the nature and authenticity of the relationship: do Thai girls really love them, or do economic interests drive them? In Cohen’s reading, love is staged by Thai prostitutes to gain long-term financial security by maintaining ties with the farangs after they have left. This reading echoes more recent interpretations of love as emotional labour performed in the context of sex tourism. In her ethnography of sex tourism, Denise Brennan argues that sex workers in the Dominican Republic perform love strategically, using “the discourse and practices of romantic love to secure marriage proposals for a visa. After all, why waste a marriage certificate on romantic love when it can be transformed into a visa?”(2004:97). Whereas she recognizes  87 the difficulty of distinguishing between relationships for interest versus those for love, she still draws a rigid line between “emotion” and “strategy”, as if one necessarily precludes the other (2004: 97). I propose that in the context of sex tourism in Ponta Negra, these distinctions are much less defined. This is not to say that women in Ponta Negra do not feign love, stage attraction, or manipulate foreigners. Daniela, a 20-year-old woman, for one, told me she was engaged in a relationship only for monetary interest purposefully feigning love. Her Italian husband, a widower in his late 60s, was living half time in Natal, half time in Italy. He had a furnished apartment in a private and guarded building, and Daniela could live there even when he was away. She had a domestic worker who also cooked her meals, and had more than enough money to buy herself all the essentials, in addition to nice clothes, beauty products, perfumes, and other items she would use to cruise the bars at night, when her partner was in Italy. When he was away, Daniela would work as a garota de programa in the nightclubs, bars, and at the beach.  A curvy, lively morena, Daniela could be selective with the men she would have paid sex with given her secured financial situation. When her husband was back, however, she would spend all her time with him. When I interviewed her in mid-October 2007, she told me “I don’t intend to remain married to him for a long time”, and later added, “I’ll take it until I can’t stand it, when I can’t, I’ll end it.”  Daniela was not alone, nor marginal, and on many occasions I heard women’s stories of cashing in on romance. However, I seek to bring to attention the ways in which in the context of sex tourism in Ponta Negra, the labour of love is commonly both private and public. In other words, the distinction traced by Hochschild tends to get blurry. Brazilian women in Ponta  88 Negra leave the meanings of the relationships with tourists open and ambiguous rather than seeking to establish clear boundaries separating clients from boyfriends or the realm of work from the intimate sphere. In other words, these women simultaneously engage with men in varying degrees of intimacies, allowing the possibilities for long-lasting ties to develop – what other scholars have termed “incomplete commercialization” (De Gallo and Alzate 1976, cited in Cabezas 2009:119). Women in Ponta Negra are seeking to establish reciprocal ties of mutual obligation (Mauss 1967; Cabezas 2009) which may explain their emphasis on the importance of having genuine feelings of attraction and affection for foreigners. Much like Cabezas proposes in the context of the Dominican Republic “in using intimate labor that deemphasized the sale of sex, women were able to perform relational work that could open up the relationship to more stable and productive possibilities” (2009:130). In short, women in Ponta Negra blurred the boundaries of affect/money, because they seek to leave the possibilities open for relationships premised upon ties of mutual obligation.  “I Fall in Love Every Time” Over the course of my fieldwork, it was almost impossible to assess whether a relationship was motivated by either love or money, as these motivations were often times intertwined in complex ways and not always mutually exclusive (see also Brennan 2004: 95-96). The presence of financial interest did not necessarily preclude women from entertaining feelings for foreign men. Perla, for one, admitted falling for almost all the men she had sex with. The 28-year-old woman, originally from Recife, the capital city of the neighbouring state of Pernambuco, worked for two years as a stripper before meeting  89 a German man whom she followed to Germany and with whom she had a daughter. Perla stayed two years in Germany, but left, as things did not work well with him, “He began using a lot of drugs, it was not good for my daughter to grow up with a person like that.” She came back to her hometown Recife, where she had left her three other children, from her previous marriage with a Brazilian man. Depressed and broken-hearted after her bad experience in Germany, she came to Ponta Negra with a friend to distract herself, as a tourist on a one-week holiday.  She enjoyed the place and decided to stay, while her four children remained in Recife with her mother. It had been four years since she had first come to Ponta Negra when we had this tape-recorded interview, in December 2007: M-E: You arrived here and you began to have relationships with foreigners?  P: Yes  M-E: To frequent the beach, to do programa?  P: Yes, I do. I do [programa], I don’t deny this to anyone, I’m not ashamed to tell you.  M-E: You consider yourself a profissional do sexo (sex worker), a garota de programa…  P: Sex worker, because the garota de programa, she goes with any type of man, she goes with young, she goes with old. I don’t.  I go with the one I want to go with. If I don’t like them, I don’t go.  M-E: This is what a sex worker does?  P: For me, yes.  M-E: Like, when I saw you with that Spanish guy.  P: Yes  M-E: It’s like, this was more like namoro, no?  P: Yes. I do it this way: they [the tourists] come, no? There is one who likes me, if I like him, I’ll stay with him during all his Holiday. And when he returns to his  90 country, a year later he’ll come back again; I’ll stay with him. And when I'm with him, I'm only with him. I don’t go with anyone else.  M-E: And they pay you?  P: Yes  M-E: They pay for the day, week? How?  P: No. If I'm with one person only, you know, he doesn’t have to pay me every single day. When he leaves me he gives me a good amount of cash; he buys me things. With this money, I pay a little [my bills] and the rest I send it to Recife for my other children. But my family does not know that I do programa.  Interestingly, Perla said she was not ashamed of what she was doing, to me, an outsider, but she was still hiding what she was doing from her family, pretending to be a waitress in a restaurant, which she indeed did initially when she arrived in Ponta Negra. Perla thus emphasizes, to some degree, her respectability, by taking the identity of a profissional do sexo 39  because she does not go with any man, something she saw as wrong. Perla was highly selective about the foreign men she would have sex with, opting for men she liked, enjoyed spending time with, or found attractive. For her, to have feelings for a man was a precondition to have paid sex with them. Rather than “performing love” or “staging authenticity” as described in several ethnographic studies of sex tourism (Brennan 2004; Cohen 1982; 1986; Ribeiro and Sacramento 2006), Perla stressed the importance of having genuine feelings in order for her to have paid sex with tourists, which was echoed by many other women, as already discussed. As she said: “I  39  Not all women in Ponta Negra would have agreed with her. Indeed, several women preferred the identity of garotas de programa, which according to my observations, was the most frequently used. Several women told me they prefer it to profissional do sexo because they thought the profissional de sexo was the one who would go with anyone. What is significant, here, is that they share with Perla an understanding that there is a hierarchy of practices of commercial sex, and they sought to distinguish themselves by emphasizing  their ability to choose and their respectability. This is something that was recurrent in women’s presentation of themselves –whether identifying as garotas, companhia, or profissional do sexo.  91 have to feel something, if I don’t, I don’t do it, I don’t do it”, adding later, “I like kissing, I like making good sex”. Importantly, Perla could be selective, unlike other women, because with her Afro look, she received a lot of attention from foreign tourists. Perla did not straighten her dense, thick, curvy hair, but wore it naturally. A curvy, light morena, she was also a skilled samba dancer, and would often show off her ability in the bars and nightclubs, attracting many male tourists. Furthermore, she was not exclusively dependent on the money earned in the sex trade, she also helped tourists find apartments or offered them buggy tours keeping a cut of the sale. “Many are friends of mine with whom I’ve never had sex,” she said, complicating the understanding of the kind of intimate ties Brazilian women relied upon in the context of “sex tourism”. As Cabezas (2009) proposes, the emphasis on “sex” does not always do justice to the panoply of practices women engage in. 40  Perla had many foreign friends who trusted her and would hire her for services other than sex work. The extent of the blur of work/leisure, love/money, and private/public can perhaps be better grasped through the story of a particular encounter Perla had with a foreigner, with whom I saw her spending some time, both at the beach and in the main nightclub of Ponta Negra.  Perla had just said goodbye to him the day before we had our tape-recorded interview, and she expressed her sadness that he had recently left.  He was a Spanish tourist, in his late thirties, early forties, whom she had seen coming and going for two years in Ponta Negra before anything had happened between them:  40  As a foreign researcher, I also found myself in forms of commercial ties that were not sexualized. For instance, I often paid for drinks in the bars and nightclubs as a way to reciprocate for the conversations I had with women; and I offered meals in exchange for interviews. For the women I came to see regularly, I became one of the intimate ties they cultivated and these ties were defined by mutual obligations and reciprocity.  92 It was already two years since I was looking at him. Two years, but he never gave me a look. Two years! I used to say ‘I still haven’t been with him yet’, and every year I kept thinking, which month would he come, is he coming this month? And this year I said ‘he won’t escape me’. He wanted to get away from me, but I insisted, and on the third day, we were together, until now.  Perla was, as she said, apaixonada (in love), but this feeling was not unique to him. As she told me: “sometimes, I tell my friends that I fall in love every time.” It may seem then, that money was somewhat secondary, especially given that she sought other means of making money. Yet Perla had a clear sense of how much she thought she should earn, refusing to go for free or under a certain price, as other women sometimes would. With me, men have to take a shower, brush their teeth first (laughing). Of course they have to smell good. And I always ask for 200 reais; for less than 150, I don’t go out with anyone. Many of them they say ‘100 reais’, others ‘80 reais’, with me no. [They say] ‘Ah, but yesterday I went out with this one, with a girl for 100 reais’ [I tell them] ‘so find her because with me, you don’t go out for 100 reais’.  Perla was also rather economically driven with men, selecting them according to their ability to pay, as the following exchange makes obvious: P: And also, I see it when a man has money, because (…) if he passes more than 10 minutes talking with me without offering me a drink, I go away. I like these men who come [and say]: ‘what would you like to drink?’. I ask for a whiskey with Red Bull right away, because there are many men who would say ‘no, Red Bull, no’. If, when I ask, they don’t have a problem, then they have money.  First dose, second dose as well! (Laughing)  M-E: So we can talk now!  P: So we can talk now! There are some men who come like this to the girl: ‘do you want a beer?’ They don’t even ask ‘what would you like to drink?’. [When they ask me]‘Do you want a beer?’, I say ‘I don’t drink beer my love, I just drink this. Do you want to pay for my drink?’ (Laughing)  M-E:  you’re experta (you’re skilful, you’re smart)  P: Yes, I am experta. Because when they go to a brothel in Europe, it’s 30 minutes, counting on the clock, no?  93  M-E: It’s different.  P:  And when they come here they want to pay 50 reais for the entire night. I don’t go. Many of them want to stay for the entire night. I say ‘I don’t go. First, if you go to a brothel in your country, you don’t get kisses on the mouth, you can’t walk in the street holding hands, you can’t go to a restaurant with them. And here we go to the beach, we’re always together, and you don’t even want to pay 200 reais?’ I told them: ‘this, for you, is nothing. Because if I were to go to Europe, 200 reais it’s 3 drinks you get to drink there’.  Perla hoped for more than just sex, yet she was not willing to compromise her price for a potential lover. She did not “perform love”; rather she merged her personal interests with her need for money, developing both friendships and personal relationships with boyfriends/tourists. In her comments, Perla also hints at an important spatial contrast between Europe and Brazil. She was well aware of the potentially exploitative nature of the exchange between foreign tourists and herself, given the value of Euros in Brazil. She knew that several men were taking advantage of the ambiguities of sex tourism to get the most they could out of their money. In their home country, she assumed they would pay for a prostitute in a brothel (rather than hire an escort) and thus, would not be able to have all that Brazilian women offered: a holiday girlfriend experience. Like many other Brazilian women, Perla was hoping to find a foreign man she would eventually marry, but she knew very well of the potential disenchantments of a life abroad, especially given her own experience, having lived two years in Germany with her ex-boyfriend. She did not fit the widespread, stereotypical depiction of women as victims, as circulated by the state, local NGOs, and the media. She was highly critical, indeed, of the state intervention to eradicate sex tourism, and was even interviewed by a journalist, during the main  94 operation against sex tourism in 2006 (something I discuss in the next chapter). Recounting her interview with the journalist, she said: I told her, ‘the problem, it’s not the foreigners. The problem is that the Brazilian population is very hypocritical’. I talked this way to her. Because it’s not just the foreigners who come looking for sex. I told her: ‘Go there in the Praia do Futuro, (Future Beach) or go to the Avenue Roberto Freire by night. Who stop? Brazilians, with their cars, looking for travestis (transvestites).  Indeed, Perla saw hypocrisy in the state and NGOs’ fight against sex tourism, because both Brazilian men and women (including, according to her married women, lawyers, judges, and deputies) also hire prostitutes. “I think if this prejudice against foreigners would go, the Brazilian population would be much better,” she told me, adding later that several of the cases of sexual abuse with minors also involved Brazilians. In her critique, in many ways Perla disrupted the dominant discourse that victimizes her and that pathologizes foreigners, as she turned her critical gaze onto Brazilian society. Perla faced several discriminatory practices in the bars and nightclubs of Ponta Negra and seemed more affected by how local residents and business owners treated her than by engaging in paid sex with foreigners. This brings me to discuss an important issue, a recurrent one in the scholarship on sex tourism, namely the conflation of sex tourism with exploitation (O’Connell Davidson 1995).  Ambiguities and Exploitation As Perla suggests, sex tourism is a terrain for potential exploitation, given that tourists may capitalize on the diffuse nature of sex tourism to get more, for less. Furthermore, their many privileges – including their wealth, mobility, nationality, age, race, and gender – structure the encounters, no matter how well intentioned they may be.  95 The sex tourist economy in Ponta Negra is inscribed within a global political economy that has historically relied on economic inequalities between the West and Brazil and follows from imperial representations of sexualized otherness and from postcolonial relations. The blur of love and money has thus led some commentators to locate exploitation in the ambiguous nature of sex tourism; in this view, women are exploited because as ‘girlfriends’ they do not always receive cash in compensation for their labour (Leite cited in Williams 2010: 129-130). We can gather from Perla that the blur of affect/money in sex tourism may simultaneously work to the advantage of women, begging the question of how to define exploitation in the context of sex tourism (see O’Connell Davidson 2010 for a similar point regarding trafficking). Larissa, whose story I recount in Chapter 5, perhaps best captures in a few words the paradoxical nature of women’s ambiguous relationships with foreigners, with what she termed “the glamour and the decadence” of Ponta Negra. Women thus operated in a complex matrix of power, in which the ambiguity was both seductive and oppressive.  I now turn to this tension, reflecting on the distinct working of power in sex tourism where the intimate and the market merge together. 41  In the words of Larissa, there was some glamour that accompanied sex with foreigners, given the reification in the local imagination of foreigners as better men than Brazilian men. Travel (both locally and abroad), gifts, nice meals in fancy restaurants, nights spent in chic hotel rooms, and the prospect of learning foreign languages were all seen as the main benefits of this life, as Laila’s comment suggests:  41  This is not intended as an exhaustive examination of the hazards and benefits of being a garotas de programa in Ponta Negra but rather as an initial reflection on the ways in which ambiguity works and mediates women’s experiences.  96 Those normal girls working normally they don't know Natal, I already know all of Natal, Pipa, Genipabu, the most beautiful beaches, the best restaurants. I know how to speak languages they would never understand. I am treated very well. I have come to know fancy hotels, you understand? And they haven't. Who doesn't want to know the best hotels, or stay in the best hotels, in 5-star hotels?  In spite of the ambiguity, money was extremely important and constantly mentioned as a prime motivation for engaging in this life, even for women looking for romantic love. Women in the sex trade usually contrasted the money earned from foreigners to the monthly minimum wage they would likely earn if formally employed (usually making its equivalent in one night or two). Yet when probing further, women also revealed that money alone was not sufficient in itself to explain their decision of engaging in ambiguous relationships with foreign men. Many of them would not go out with Brazilian men nor have paid sex with them, even if similar monetary compensation were offered. Only a few women said they would accept an offer to go on programa with Brazilian men – most commonly, these were women less successful with tourists or who relied on the local sex trade in difficult times. Yet, a large majority of women express their disgust at the idea of going with Brazilian men and sought to distinguish themselves from street prostitutes servicing local men – a process of distinction that I examine in Chapter 5, and that reveals the glamour associated with paid sex with foreigners. Several of the women I spoke to mentioned the differential treatment of gringos and brasileiros (Brazilian men) insisting that local men were abusive, aggressive, and exclusively sexually driven when paying for sex, in contrast to foreigners, described as gentlemen. 42   42  In addition to men from Europe, Brazilian women also spoke positively of Argentine men, seen as better than Brazilian men yet not as good as European. Women did not express the desire to migrate to Argentina, nor to marry an Argentinean. Other Latin American men were rarely mentioned. One of my interviewees dated a Chilean man whom she compared negatively to European men, much like women did for Brazilian men.  97 For instance, when I asked whether she would agree to go with Brazilian men, Alícia replied: “Brazilians are gross, especially when it comes to prostitutas (prostitutes); they are gross because they think that a prostitute should do everything they want.” Similarly, Bebel explained that even if offered the same amount by gringos and brasileiros, she would not accept to have programa with the latter. When asked why she chose to have programa with foreigners, she answered: B: Why with foreigners? Because they pay well. Brazilian men don’t pay.  M-E: Just for that reason? What if a Brazilian man were to come and offer you the same amount of money?  B: But you know it’s because Brazilian men they’re very much like this, they have a lot of prejudices, they tell you things like: “you’re a puta (whore, bitch) so I’ll do what I want. I’m paying. I do what I want”. The gringo no, the gringo he respects you. He knows what a woman needs. (…).  Thus, while money was an important incentive, the prospect of meeting foreigners imagined as better men than Brazilian men, was also crucial and in part explained the appeal of this life for many women – an aspect I explore at length in Chapter 4. Women in Ponta Negra insisted on the extent to which they exert choices, as they operated in spaces mostly free of pimps, where they control with whom they would have encounters and on which terms, including where, what, for how long, and in exchange for what. The beaches, the bars, the nightclubs, the restaurants, and the shopping malls were all open spaces where they could circulate freely, gauging their potential clients/boyfriends while sharing a drink, a meal, a dance, or a conversation. The diffuse nature of sex tourism in Ponta Negra allowed women to navigate different encounters, some highly commercialized, others less so. Women would even, at times, perform authentic feelings of attractions or love, cashing in on romances by capitalizing  98 on the ambiguities of a sex tourist economy. It is perhaps Alícia who best captures the extent to which women were aware of the ambiguities in sex tourism, and would not necessarily be exploited by them, but rather, would use them strategically.  When I asked her about how she would approach men in the bars and nightclubs, she answered: A: Me? I arrive like someone who doesn't want anything, talking normal. I come in a normal way, you understand? I ask them ‘how long you've been here?’ or ‘ you're a nice person’, ‘you are very beautiful’, I go very slowly, you know? Because there are a lot of women [who say] ‘let’s go to have a little “sucking” party [festinha de chupa] and I don’t know what else. You have to go slowly in that space, in that territory.  M-E: And you always ask for money, or sometimes, you would go de graça (for free)?  A: I always ask for money.  ME: Before leaving or …  A: After.  ME: After?  A: After. [Because] before, he won’t give [money] if you bargain before. [After], he’ll look at me and say: ‘you did not tell me anything’. I’ll tell him: ‘but here in Brazil you know if you have a woman, you have to pay to be with her. You’re not stupid or crazy. You’re in Brazil, you’re here for what? To work? You’re here to tan, to be with women, to drink, to go out, pronto. And every woman that would leave with you, you’ll get into trouble if you don’t want to pay. Do you like problems? No? Isn’t it? So give me my money, bye my love, I really liked you’.  Alícia would thus ask for money only after having sex with foreigners (a practice not unique to her but neither shared by all). She thought that foreign men should be aware, when coming to Brazil, that they would have to pay for sex. Thus she played with the stereotypical image that todas Brasileiras são putas (all Brazilian women are whores) and turned it to her own advantage, by asking foreign men for money only after the act. Alícia assumed that it was their problem if the foreigners were unaware of the  99 commercial nature of the interactions, and therefore foolish enough to think that the interaction was for “real”. When I asked her whether she had problems with men refusing to pay, she said that usually no, as most of them sought to avoid being in trouble with the local police (especially in the aftermath of a campaign against sex tourism targeting foreign men). 43  Furthermore, as I discuss in Chapter 4, for several men, it was part of an elaborate play too, where the signs of the monetary transaction had to be erased in order for them to feel their seductive power. 44  While they certainly were extremely resourceful, tricking men in various ways, Brazilian women experienced restrictions on their global mobility that located them in a different subject position in contrast to the foreign men visiting Natal. Denise Brennan (2004) makes a similar argument in the context of sex tourism in the Dominican Republic.  She describes how Dominican sex workers see foreign men as “all potential dupes, essentially walking visas, who can help the women leave the island – and poverty” (2004: 24). Yet she warns that it would be misleading to position women on equal terms with these tourists:  “sex workers’ relationships with foreign men fall short of mutual exploitation since white foreign male sex tourists are better positioned than Afro- Dominican female sex workers to leave Sosúa satisfied with their experiences there”  43  We could think such a rational, economic, calculated, and strategic woman would be only in this for her own self-interest, whether money or a life abroad. Yet, during our tape-recorded interview, she made constant references to her being apaixonada (in love), saying of gringos: “I fall in love so much with them that they make me cry” (eu me apaixono tanto que me fazem chorar). 44  I suspect that it is because of the mutual desire for ambiguous relationships that the Internet did not figure prominently among both men and women I spoke to. For the most part, women expressed a preference to meet foreigners in ‘real’ life, rather than through personal ads or Internet dating /sexual services. Most commonly, the use of the Internet at local café was to sustain relationships already established rather than to meet foreigners. Other technologies played a similar role: cell phones were used mostly to maintain relationships, whether during a man’s stay in Ponta Negra or afterwards. New technologies also facilitated the transfer of money directly in women’s bank accounts or through Western Union, as well through the buying of e-ticket for women.  100 (2004: 25). Their limited mobility and the hierarchies in which these relationships are inscribed thus disrupt women’s narrative of choice. Yet women insisted that they chose the men and sought to portray themselves as savvy women who had previously rejected more exploitative forms of labour. Women would often point to other forms of work previously performed as far more exploitative. Bebel, for instance, described her job as a domestic worker as following: R: When I got a job in Recife, the woman was paying me five reais a day, to clean three bedrooms, three bathrooms, the living room, and the kitchen; to take care of a dog and also to bring children to school. This gives 25 a week, 100 a month. 45  100 reais, for what? Very little to eat. And for clothes, for shoes, for everything else?  ME: For rent? R: For rent, for everything. It’s nothing. This doesn’t work for me. To work for free, no. I was killing myself, the first time [I went] I killed myself working.  She later added, “the rich people, they’re great pirangueiro (thief, cheap, bad person) no?  They like to exploit the poor”. Similarly, Laila pointed to the limited amount of money she had previously earned, in contrast to the sex trade in Ponta Negra: “as a domestic worker, it’s very little money. So what I received in a month, working here I get it in an hour.” Several other women mentioned that the minimum wage they would likely receive in a regular job would never be enough to live on. As Gregory also found in the context of sex tourism in the Dominican Republic, women come to sex tourism often after “having already rejected domestic and paid-work arrangements that are exploitative and subject them to abusive male authority” (2003: 348). Likewise, in the context of my research, several women also explained how they eventually decided to ask for money in exchange for sex, after either experiencing what they define as more exploitative labour  45  This was less than half the minimum wage. It is an illegal practice but still quite common to find domestic workers with such arrangements in Brazil.  101 conditions, or deception and disappointment in their relationships with local men. For instance, Mácia told me: “So when I had this very big disappointment with this Brazilian man, my mother died at the same time, this was in 2006 (…) I was angry. I was disillusioned, lonely, you know. [I decided] I won’t need a man to stay with me (…) no, I’ll be with a man only if I can take advantage of him.” Most women reported suffering violence and abuse at the end of their previous Brazilian partner, and very few women narrated incidents of sexualized violence with foreign men. Alícia was among the few women who narrated such an incident, when chatting with a group of women at the Marine Sea Hotel. A man with whom she had agreed to have sex had later refused to wear a condom and had tried to force her to have sex with him. She told the women of how she had grabbed an emptied beer bottle, and threatened him with it, until he eventually left. Women tended to describe Brazilian men as violent and foreign men as gentle whether in the context of the sex trade or not. In my interviews and conversations with women, very few of them narrated negative experiences. Bebel was an exception: she refused to go with Spanish men after having a bad experience with one Spanish man. Most commonly, however, women drew connections between violence and the local street prostitution, and expressed their relative sense of safety in comparison. For instance, Eliane said “in the nightclubs, it’s safer. There are parties, there are people. In the street, no. In the street, one hits you, you can get shot, one comes to rape you. In the street, no one will help you. It already happened, of one working na pista (in the stroll) and they killed her. They killed her, about 3 months ago.” Unlike in other locations, women did not report fearing the law, police officers, or jail time (Brennan 2004). Indeed, I once witnessed Gabriela, a 24 year-  102 old woman looking for police officers in order to help her pressure a foreign man who owed her money to pay her. This suggests that foreign men were likely to be the target of police intervention, especially in the aftermath of campaigns against sex tourism positioning them as the criminal problems (see next Chapter). Women in Ponta Negra also narrated how cruising the beach, bars, and nightclubs of Ponta Negra was not without its own difficulties and commonly expressed a sense of alienation and a desire for a different life – whether engaging in commercial sex or not. Among other things, the competition between women was significant, especially during the periods with few tourists in town, when there were three or four women for every man. As Bebel put it: “there are many fights, the other girls against us. When one’s succeeding, the others are all jealous. They want to fight, to argue.” When my husband, an Irish man in his early thirties eventually joined me in the field, in the last five months of my stay, I was warned – at times jokingly, but also seriously – not to leave him alone in the bars and nightclubs, even when I would simply head for the bathroom. The assumption was that another woman could ‘steal’ him, as far too often, women had been quickly turned down for another woman, in part due to the ambiguities and openness of the encounters between foreigners and Brazilian women in the bars, nightclubs, and at the beach. In effect, the ambiguities meant that some women would accept going for cheaper, even for free. In addition to the competition, the rhythm of such a life, too, was particularly difficult to sustain on a regular basis, as I myself experienced, with some nightclubs opening their doors as late as 11:00 p.m., and their dance floor, at 2:00 a.m. Whereas tourists visiting Ponta Negra were generally on short holidays in which they could  103 indulge in the festivity (spending the late hours of the night and early hours of the morning up while resting at the beach the next days), Brazilian women did not always enjoy the partying, drinking, and late nights. This was especially difficult for those with children to care for during the day. Among my interviewees, twenty women had children, and fifteen of them took care of them in the absence of affordable childcare services (two-thirds of them as single mothers), while five others had their children in the care of their relatives. 46  In the bars and nightclubs, women drank alcohol and used drugs (mostly cocaine and marijuana) as inhibitors, in order to feel more at ease approaching men. Eliane drank every time she would go out into the nightclubs to meet foreigners: “if I drink, I feel hotter, I’m on top of everyone, I ask to dance, I kiss.” When not drinking, she would not namorar, as she said, because she would feel ashamed. Valentina, too, needed to drink to approach a new man and to try to secure a new, long-term relationship with foreign men. As she explained, “after he [a former namorado] left, finding another boyfriend… ah the shame! I had to drink a lot, I had to drink to succeed.” A couple of women were heavily dependent on drugs or alcohol and relied on foreign men to sustain their consumption. Isabella, for instance, said she drank and used cocaine daily para esquecer o que eu faço (to forget what I do). She used to consume with one of her ex-lovers, similarly to Felicidade who spent most of her earnings on cocaine, and who sought foreign men who could help sustain her consumption by providing her with cocaine during their stay in Natal. Many women were initially seduced by the party atmosphere of Ponta Negra but eventually grew tired of the constant drinking and partying that accompanied it. A few  46  Women who did not live with their children still took care of them in other ways: among other things, they would visit them, talk to them over the phone, and send money to the relatives taking care of them.  104 women preferred to remain relatively sober in order to remain alert and in control of the situation, while some expressed their preference for men they described as “serio”, meaning that would not party in the bars and clubs. Another related hazard is connected to safe-sex practices, sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV and AIDS, and pregnancy. While my study did not specifically address issues of sexuality and health, I did discuss safe-sex practices with women in my informal conversations with them or during our taped-recorded interviews. All the women who brought up the issue or those I questioned on safe-sex practices claimed they consistently use condoms with the tourists, and all were well aware of the importance of protecting themselves against the possibility of an unwanted pregnancy or a sexually transmitted disease. Given the illegality of abortion in Brazil (except in cases of health risk or rape) women were particularly concerned about avoiding pregnancy. According to their various experiences, most men insisted on using condoms, and in the few cases of a man’s refusal, women told me they would simply refuse to have sex with him. However, the paradoxes of intimacies created complex situations in which women would cease to enforce condom use, in an attempt to prove the authenticity of their feelings for foreigners they sought to get intimate with. This was something that I discovered with time, as some of the women began expressing concerns about unwanted pregnancies from men they had accompanied for a week or two – at times, even after a one-night stand. Given the short stay of tourists in Natal, women sought to compress the time needed to create a sense of intimacy. The choice of not enforcing the use of condoms was a way to achieve that. For instance, Bebel had previously told me she always enforced condom use to prevent diseases and  105 pregnancy: “nobody knows what they have, if they have diseases, if they have AIDS, if they have venereal diseases”. Yet, while one of her namorados (boyfriends) was back in Italy after his first trip to Natal where they had met, she staged a pregnancy over the phone. She explained to me she was attempting to secure a marriage proposal from him, some remittances, and/or a flight ticket to Italy. Eventually, her plan did not work; instead, he almost flew to Natal to visit her, and seeing this was not getting her anywhere, Bebel staged a miscarriage again over the phone. Bebel had been with him for about two weeks, and she had hoped their relationship could transform into something serious including a marriage, which explains why she did not use a condom. This suggests that women may expose themselves to more risks of STDs or pregnancy when they engage in relationships that are not strictly commercialized, an important aspect that needs further investigation but that contradicts the common assumption of sex workers as vectors of disease. It was when women sought to become more intimate (and not when they engaged in highly commercialized sex) that they ceased to enforce condom use. Similarly, Schifter-Sikora’s work on HIV and sex tourism in Costa Rica reveals a similar pattern. As he writes, “Intimacy, not ignorance is the main culprit of the spread of the virus. If sex tourism would only be about sex, and would not have the love component, there would be fewer dangers to contracting HIV” (2007: 163; cited in Williams 2010: 132). 47   47  Additional research on this issue would be particularly relevant to further understand the connections between intimacy and safe-sex practices. Given that the local association of sex workers in Natal, ASPRO- RN, did not intervene in the bars, nightclubs and at the beach of Ponta Negra in education or condom distribution, these questions appear as of utmost importance. I discuss the relation of the association to the garotas de programa in Ponta Negra in Chapter 5.  To my knowledge, women had knowledge of sex education through their peers, families, and schools, rather than from the associations of sex workers in Natal. None of them disclose whether they were HIV positive, and there are no data available to assess the HIV rate (or other STDs) of garotas de programa in Ponta Negra.  106 Another aspect that further complicates women’s experiences is that the absence of pimps does not necessarily mean that there were no intermediaries. Indeed, the ambiguities of sex tourism allow several people to benefit from arranging encounters – including waiters in bars, owners of hotels or guesthouses, taxi drivers, friends, or relatives. For instance, Lívio, my surfing teacher, previously played the role of intermediary while being employed as a waiter in one of the nightclubs catering to gringos and garotas.  He had a list of garotas de programa he would phone upon request from foreign men, and took a percentage of what the women earned. I suspect that many others arranged encounters in a similar fashion. Of all the women I interviewed or informally spoke to, only Gabriela reported being introduced to foreign men by an intermediary, in her case, a neighbour who took a cut of her earnings. Once she realized it was rather easy to meet foreigners on her own, she dropped him and began selling fruits and offering massages at the beach. Friends and relatives, too, benefited from women’s earnings. For instance, at the pousada where Bebel stayed, a Brazilian woman in her early forties, Yolanda, accompanied Bebel and her colegas in the bars and nightclubs, expecting to have her drinks and entrance fee paid for in exchange for her company. Furthermore, the endless uncertainties of making money from one day to the next, the many transnational disappointments, the dependence on foreign men’s willingness to maintain a relationship, the stigma associated with sex with foreigners, and the many expenses involved with this lifestyle (such as drinks, fees to enter the bars, higher rent in this tourist location, as well as money invested in the body, including hair, nails, surgeries, make-up, perfumes, clothes, and shoes) all destabilized the narratives of glamour, money earned quickly, and successful romances. For women engaging in the  107 sex trade, sair dessa vida (to get out of this life) was a common utterance, a phrase heard over and over, expressing women’s limited possibilities in Ponta Negra and their desire for something else. While they had rejected other options considered as more exploitative as discussed above, many women in Ponta Negra simultaneously sought a way out of essa vida. The late nights, the drinking, the potential for a condom to break during intercourse, the stigma, the financial insecurity, the dependence on men’s willingness to offer gifts or pay for sex, among other things, created tensions and stress that led several women to eventually seek a way out. Several women mentioned their age – even when as young as 22-23 years old – as a factor to seek other opportunities, given the market for young-looking bodies. They believed that as they would age, their choices of potential partners would become more restricted. For instance, during one night in April, Marina, who looked barely 18 years old and claimed she was 19, talked to me about her difficulty in getting men, because of her extremely young look. Foreign men thought she was a minor, and were reluctant to have sex with her. In spite of her youthful look and young age, she was still worried that she would age in this life, saying” I have no luck, I’m still in this life” later adding “I’ll end up getting old in this life.” One way out was through long-term relationships with foreigners and migration to Europe, and many women often referred to foreign boyfriends or marriages as a means to get out of this life. Alícia, a 19-year-old woman, mentioned that her biggest fear was: “to stay nessa vida (in this life) and not get anyone,” hinting at the spatial dimension of her experience. She was hoping to get married to a foreigner soon and live in Europe, in order to stop cruising the bars and nightclubs in Ponta Negra: “I’ll try, I’ll try until I meet someone, as soon as I meet a man, I’ll stay with him. Until I meet him I’ll stay here, but it  108 won’t take too long.” Women indeed sustained essa vida for a varying amount of time (from a couple of days to several years, or as a part-time, cyclical or seasonal practice), 48  and they commonly oscillated between periods in and out of this life, a fluidity possible due to the absence of pimps. Bebel, too, explained that once she realized what essa vida was all about, she began to seek a marriage. When I met her, she was a relative newcomer to Ponta Negra and its sex tourist scene: she had arrived in July, like me, and when we talked for the first time in September, she expressed enthusiasm for this life. She was, after all, just recovering from an extremely busy period in August, a lucrative month marked by the presence of Italians on holiday. She had made so much money with them, she could hardly believe sex with foreigners could be so lucrative. She also enjoyed the company of Italian men whom she described as charming, handsome, gentlemen. If I had interviewed Bebel in the first week I had met her, she would have emphasized the glamour of Ponta Negra. During our first conversation, she was extremely voluble and enthusiastic, and she explained she did enjoy every bit of this life: the attention from foreign men, the parties at night, the dancing with her friends, and even the sex. In the months that followed, however, her narrative changed, and I came to realize the multi-textured dimensions of her experience. When I interviewed her in November, she was going through a difficult period, for several days in a row of not succeeding with foreigners, and being less able to choose with whom she would go. Sair dessa vida then became particularly important: “After I saw… because essa vida (this life) is bad enough and very, very hard. You endure a lot from men (aguanta saco de homens) you have to endure many things.” Thus,  48  As an illustration of the varying amount of time, I met a 20 year-old woman newly arrived in Ponta Negra who thought of going back the next day to her hometown given her lack of success with foreigners., Other women had started seven or eight years ago, drifting in and out, including to live in Europe.  109 she was looking to “arrange a marriage, to sair dessa vida, to get out quickly.”  Bebel was eventually able to secure a proposal, after entertaining three potential husbands simultaneously, her “Italian collection,” as she humorously referred to them (all three of whom she claimed to be in love with). Bebel eventually headed for Italy, where she spent an initial three months. The last time I heard from her, in late September 2008, she was getting married and going to live in Italy. She had “succeeded” to sair dessa vida, but it is hard to know whether her success will be long-lasting, and whether she finds herself in new power arrangements. Furthermore, her experience reveals the unpredictability and uncertainties that essa vida entails. Ponta Negra was also the site of international criminal activities and charges of drug trafficking, laundering of money, and trafficking in women were leveled at Norwegian, Italian, Spanish, Pakistanis and Brazilian people (Bezerra 2008; 2007; 2006c; Tribuna do Norte 2009). Daniela, a 20-year-old woman I interviewed in October 2007, went to work illegally in a brothel in Italy, under conditions she had not consented to. 49  In her words, “it was a horrible experience.” Earlier that year, she had agreed to work illegally as a garota in an Italian brothel. She was told that she was going to make 50 Euros for each programa, and thought that she could save money, but once there, she never saw any of the money. She said “there are many promises, but actually when you get there you ask God to get back to your country.” After traveling by boat and then by plane, Daniela was taken to the brothel where she was forced to see clients, work several hours a day, engage in sexual practices she did not agree to, and where she was severely beaten if attempting to resist. She could not go out alone, nor every day. She explained  49  Among all the women I spoke to informally and formally, she was the only woman who reported such an experience.  110 she was also forced to take drugs, in order to make her more compliant. After two months, the brothel was raided, when one of the women in the brothel alerted a pharmacist serving her. Daniela was subsequently deported and has a permanent note in her passport that identifies her as a former illegal migrant and that complicates her ability to cross the border anywhere in Europe. The immigration officials in Italy assumed that she was in the brothel of her own choosing. Yet as she explains, “You go at your own will but when you get there, you are not doing it of your own free will, you’re doing it because you’re forced to.” When I interviewed her, Daniela was planning to go to Italy with her Italian husband (with whom she lived in Brazil) but she said she would never return to Europe to do programa: “Only here [in Ponta Negra]. Because here, I do what I want. If I want to go out one night, I go out. If I don’t want to, I don’t go out. Here I’m not forced to do [programa]. There [in Italy], you’re forced to do it. You sleep three, four hours and then you have to do it.” Daniela thus saw her experience in sex tourism in Ponta Negra in drastically different terms than her experience in Europe:  in Ponta Negra, she was able to control when, what, with whom, how long, and for how much money she would engage in paid sex with foreign men. The campaigns against sex tourism, which conflated her experience with that of trafficked women, did not account for what she saw as consensual versus forced. Yet the question of consent is murky and the distinction between voluntary/forced is, at times, a problematic one (Doezema 1998).  Daniela indeed complicates further the question of consent, when narrating her experiences in Ponta Negra: “Many people say that the life of a garota de programa is easy. Not so much. Sometimes, you have to go out with someone because you need the money. And you’ll  111 go out with a horrible man, understand? You have to go out and pretend you like it.” After marrying her Italian partner, a widower in his late sixties, she felt in a better position to exercise control but this also came at a cost: “I’m married, but I hate [going with him] in bed.”  The she added: “but I preferred [being married]. I don’t want to do this again. Before, I was forced to…Well, I did not have money. I had to go to the clubs every night. Not now. Now I go if I want to. I live well with one person, I go out if I want to.” When I interviewed Daniela at her rented apartment in Ponta Negra, her husband was washing her clothes – something unusual – and I commented upon that to her. Daniela exclaimed that she dominated him and claimed she even beat him at times (which was possible especially given his frail stature in contrast to her strong body). Daniela was a lively woman, whom I would never have suspected of being forced into prostitution in a brothel in Italy. She was extremely voluble and playful with men and would publicly describe herself as a savvy woman tricking foreign men. Her account reveals that the meaning of “being forced” shifted according to the contexts, and that there are degrees of complexity to what women saw as exploitative and non consensual. Gregory proposes that in the context of sex tourism in the Dominican Republic “sex work was reducible neither to ‘sex’ nor to ‘work’ but instead embraced disparate practices through which women renegotiated and contested hierarchies that were secured simultaneously in terms of gender, race, sex, and class” (Gregory 2007: 134).  Daniela negotiated different hierarchies yet she still made a crucial distinction between her experience in Ponta Negra and the one she had in a brothel in Europe, a distinction erased in the campaigns against sex tourism that conflate it with traffic in women.   112 Conclusion Women in Ponta Negra occupy complex subject positions and find themselves enmeshed in many hierarchies  – not only as women selling sex (for many women did not explicitly sell sex) but also as women located in inequalities of race, gender, class, citizenship, age, and sexuality. The complex fields of power in which women operate will become more apparent in subsequent chapters. Women in Ponta Negra engage in relationships that are open and ambiguous, rather than rigidly defined – a starting point to critically engage with subsequent sections of this dissertation. In the next chapter, I continue to describe the fields of power in which the women I interviewed operate, turning to the genealogy of sex tourism as a public discourse in Brazil and Natal. Rather than attributing an essential meaning to “sex tourism,” I take a discursive approach in order to analyze the different meanings sex tourism takes on locally, and the implications this has for those deemed affected by sex tourism.  113 Chapter 3: “Doing good for Women?”: A Geography and Genealogy of the Campaigns against Sex Tourism in Natal   Figure 6: The Big White Penis Public Act against sex tourism in Natal, November 8, 2006.  50   In Natal, the newspaper headlines announced: “In Ponta Negra, a public act against sex tourism” (Diário de Natal 2006). The caption was accompanied by a picture of the event, a march in the street of Ponta Negra with a notable symbol of sex tourism: a 2-meter, papier-mâché sculpture of a white phallus, with several flags representing different North American and European nations – including the United States, France, Germany, Great Britain, and Portugal, among others (see Figure 6). Starting in the early 2000s, Ponta Negra became a centre of several interventions against sex tourism. This street protest was provocatively and humorously labelled “The Big White Penis Act.”51 It  50  Photo by Carlos Santo/DN. Source: http://www.sospontanegra.blogspot.com 51  The protest was co-organized by the movement SOS Ponta Negra, made of different organizations dedicated to combating the problems resulting from urbanization and mass tourism, as well as by the NGO Pau e Lata (Wood and Tin Cans) which uses music to engage the public on different social issues.  114 was only one of many interventions to fight sex tourism in Natal since the early 2000s, with a variety of stakeholders involved in this struggle: most notably the municipality of Natal, the state of Rio Grande do Norte, the federal government, academics, NGOs, feminist organizations, associations of local residents and business owners as well as international organizations. They protested against “sex tourism” but its meaning was differently interpreted by these various stakeholders: some fought the sexual exploitation of children, others protested against prostitution (which is not illegal in Brazil), and still some others campaigned against the perverse effects of mass tourism on the local economy and landscape. Despite the fact that different interests and understanding of what sex tourism meant, these various stakeholders coalesced in their opposition to sex tourism in ways that blur the assumed distinctiveness of the private sector, the state and civil society. In her work on migrants who sell sex in Europe, Laura Maria Agustín documents the rise of “a veritable Rescue Industry”(2007: 4) and proposes the term “social sector” to refer to these converging practices of various actors invested in saving and rescuing migrants selling sex. 52  She argues: “what is officially governmental mixes with the ‘non’ governmental to such an extent that they cannot be disentangled, which is why I talk about the social sector in general, rather than the state or private sector or civil society” (2007: 153). Similarly, in the context of sex tourism in Natal, activists, local residents,  52  The rescue industry described by Agustín takes roots in Victorian society and in notions of saving poor, morally fallen, victimized women that emerged at the time (e.g. Walkowitz 1982). Agustín argues that contemporary attempts to rescue migrant women selling sex are thus premised upon salvationist impulses that ultimately restrict the mobility of these women; the campaigns against sex tourism in Brazil, much like the anti-trafficking movement in Europe and North America, are thus deeply rooted in similar attempts to save victimized women from deviant men.  115 business owners, and state agents converge to rescue Brazilian women from bad foreigners in a multiplicity of ways. 53  This chapter seeks to examine these convergent practices meant to rescue Brazilian women but often times resulting in furthering their marginalization, exclusion, and stigmatization. Whereas the march in Ponta Negra, at first glance, appears as a radical act against imperialism, post-colonialism, globalization, mass tourism, sexism and racism, a closer examination reveals that it is also about middle class anxieties over black/mixed-raced and working class mobility (both social and spatial). This chapter thus uncovers how the street march and other campaigns against sex tourism in Natal are interwoven with national and international articulations and entangled in local micro- politics that (re)inscribe local hierarchies of race, class, gender, and sexuality. As several scholars of prostitution in Western Europe and North America have demonstrated in different contexts, the salience of prostitution as a social problem is contingent upon spatial and historical processes of inclusion and exclusion (Agustín 2007; Brock 1998; Hubbard 1999; Ross 2010; Sanchez 1997). I thus spatially anchor the production of sex tourism as a social problem, drawing inspiration from what British geographer Phil Hubbard terms a “geography of prostitution” (1999:4; see also Ross 2010: 199). Likewise, scholars of sex tourism in Brazil have disrupted taken-for-granted assumptions about sex tourism, analyzing critically the campaigns against trafficking and sex tourism (Amar 2009; Grupo Davida 2005; Piscitelli 2006; 2004a; Silva and Blanchette 2005; Williams 2010). This chapter expands on these compelling bodies of work by tracing both the spatiality of sex tourism and the history of its engineering into a salient issue in  53  As an illustration of this convergence, the movement SOS Ponta Negra, which participated in the “Big White Penis Act” against sex tourism, includes associations of residents and business owners, NGOs, as well as government agencies.  116 Natal. In other words, this chapter engages with both the geography and genealogy of sex tourism in Natal, starting with the larger national and international context that gave rise to the constitution of sex tourism as a particularly salient issue in Brazil.  The Genealogy of Sex Tourism as a Social Problem in Brazil Beginning in the 1980s, sex tourism in Brazil became a subject of public concern, but only since the late 1990s and early 2000s did it begin to generate increasing anxiety as well as significant public intervention, media attention and state action, both at the national and international levels (Piscitelli 1996; 2004a; Pruth 2008). Several commentators have pointed to the ways in which anxieties surrounding sex-related issues and sex panics serve the most varied political purposes (Hubbard 2001; Herdt 2009; Rubin 1984; Vance 1984) and the battle to end sex tourism in Brazil is similarly entangled in complex political terrains (Amar 2009; Grupo Davida 2005; Piscitelli et al. 2004; Williams 2010). Indeed, sex tourism was not a new phenomenon in Brazil when it began to generate such recent anxieties. Although for several decades Rio de Janeiro had been recognized as a main hub for international sex tourism, there was no major intervention launched to eradicate it. For several decades, Embratur, a state-owned agency of the Ministry of Tourism created during the military dictatorship, had been promoting the image of Brazil as a tropical paradise and of Brazilian women as one of its main attractions for several decades (Alfonso 2006). In effect, the state-owned agency contributed to the consolidation and international circulation of a national narrative that propagated the idea of a hybrid nation, with the sensual mulata as its emblem. This national narrative developed most  117 fully following the influential writings of Brazilian intellectual Gilberto Freyre in the 1930s, and the populist policies of President Getúlio Vargas during the same period. As discussed in more detail in the introduction, in the aftermath of the abolition of slavery (1888) and independence of Brazil (1889), Brazilian intellectuals and the elite had difficulty reconciling their mixed race identity in the face of a theory of racial purity and especially the eugenics that developed in Europe. They adopted a whitening ideology that espoused, paradoxically, both scientific racism and miscegenation, believing that “the ‘superior’ white race would prevail in the process of racial amalgamation” (Skidmore 1993: 46). The influential writing of Gilberto Freyre celebrating racial mixture against eugenics created the grounds for a national ideology based on the celebration of Brazil’s racial mixture. As proposed by Natasha Pravaz, under President Vargas, “samba would become the best indication of the hybrid character of the nation” (2003: 124), and the mulata 54   – a woman of mixed origin – the ideal embodiment of this racial mixture or “a representation of Brazil itself” (2003: 123). The image of the sensual mulata was central in the subsequent promotion of Brazil as a tourist destination, her representation in tourist advertisements expressing the sensuality, exoticism, and joie de vivre of the nation. During the 1960s and in the following three decades, Brazil, and especially Rio de Janeiro, became closely associated with carnival, samba, and the mulata mainly through the massive tourist advertisement campaigns deployed by Embratur, but also by several travel agencies, hotels, restaurants, and bars (Gilliam 1998). Images of semi-naked mixed-race women in a tropical setting  54  Natasha Pravaz (2003) aptly notes that the mulata represents a polysemic category; popularly she refers to a woman of mixed origin (Goldstein 2003). Whether she represents a mixture of Portuguese, African, and Native (being of multiracial ancestry as in Twine 1997) or a mixture of Portuguese and African (or white and black, as in Pravaz 2003: 137) is not always agreed upon –yet she clearly embodies racial mixture.  118 were commonly used in tourist advertisements, consolidating the images of Brazil as a destination of sun, sand, sex, and sea. For several commentators, the promotion of Brazilian women as one of Brazil’s main attractions explains, in part, the appeal of Brazil for tourists interested in sex travels and for its international reputation as a sex tourist destination (Alfonso 2006; Gilliam 1998; Leite 2003; Pruth 2008, 2007; Texeira and Batista 2002). Yet for years the image of Brazil as a tropical and sensual paradise was not the subject of major public concern, partly due to this national celebration of the sensual mulata. In the aftermath of years of military dictatorship ending in 1985, Brazil became more concerned with the promotion of democratic ideals, especially given its long record of human rights violations and the severe social problems plaguing the country, such as urban violence, unemployment in the large industrial centres of the South, and severe economic disparities structured by race, gender, age, and region (Amar 2009). During the 1990s, Brazilian children were the focus of many national and international news stories that portrayed many of these children as either member of violent gangs, as working children, as murdered by death squads, or as sexually abused.  The newly democratic state became particularly concerned with addressing children’s rights and was increasingly pressured by local and international organizations to take action (Amar 2009; Hecht 1998). Street children were at the centre of these interventions in the early 1990s, but the attention to their plight eventually faded into the background in the late 1990s (Rosemberg and Andrade 1999:117). Child sex tourism slowly began to attract the attention of the media, the state, local and international NGOs and academics, beginning with national and international media reporting in the late 1980s and early 1990s (e.g.  119 Rodrigues 1994; Simons 1987), but reaching a peak in the early 2000s, with several campaigns and media reporting throughout the 2000s (e.g. CBC&VB 2006; Campos 2007; Alfonso 2006; Vieira de Carvalho 2003). This emergent national concern to combat child sex tourism was indeed part of a larger web of international articulations.