Afro-Paradise
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Afro-Paradise : Blackness, Violence, and Performance in Brazil

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Description

Tourists exult in Bahia, Brazil as a tropical paradise infused with the black population's one-of-a-kind vitality. But the alluring images of smiling black faces and dancing black bodies masks an ugly reality of anti-black authoritarian violence. Christen A. Smith argues that the dialectic of glorified representations of black bodies and subsequent state repression reinforces Brazil's racially hierarchal society. Interpreting the violence as both institutional and performative, Smith follows a grassroots movement and social protest theater troupe in their campaigns against racial violence. As Smith reveals, economies of black pain and suffering form the backdrop for the staged, scripted, and choreographed afro-paradise that dazzles visitors. The work of grassroots organizers exposes this relationship, exploding illusions and asking unwelcome questions about the impact of state violence performed against the still-marginalized mass of Afro-Brazilians.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 280 pages
  • 152 x 229 x 25.4mm | 562.45g
  • University of Illinois Press
  • Baltimore, United States
  • English
  • 0252039939
  • 9780252039935

Review quote

"This provocative ethnography is extremely timely. The current upsurge of antiracist activism on U.S. and Brazilian streets and also the availability of a rich repertoire of theoretical, and methodological, and ethical tools that anthropologists like Christen Smith strategically engage have set the stage for this compelling social analysis, which is situated where scholarship and activism intersect. In a remarkably sophisticated and creative way, the author brings street theater, carnival, state violence and social movements into a trenchant conversation on race, gender, class and the paradoxes of citizenship, as Black Brazilians embody and perform them in Salvador, Bahia. In this book Smith performs a powerful act of counter-storytelling at its best."--Faye V. Harrison, author of Outsider Within: Reworking Anthropology in a Global Age "A compelling look at anti-black violence in contemporary Brazil. From the pelourinho to the forms of policing that followed emancipation, through to the military dictatorship and post-1989 processes of gentrification, Smith demonstrates in specific ways how violence against black bodies is foundational to the state. An exciting contribution to a number of fields."--Deborah A. Thomas, author of Exceptional Violence: Embodied Citizenship in Transnational Jamaica This book powerfully demonstrates that Bahia's exotic allure is in fact no afro-paradise. In a unique fusion of ethnography and textual analysis, the author reveals how in the 'land of happiness,' anti-black violence is pervasive and deadly. As the question of anti-black violence continues to emerge as the key political issue of our generation, Afro-Paradise brings a much needed global perspective to our discussions of anti-blackness and black survival.--Keisha-Khan Y. Perry, author of Black Women against the Land Grab: The Fight for Racial Justice in Brazil "An impressive ethnography of racialized state violence in Brazil and the quotidian gestures to survive or counter its enduring push against black life. The writing is urgent, engaging, and exemplary in its focus and clarity."--The American Society for Theatre Researchshow more

About Christen A. Smith

Christen A. Smith is Assistant Professor of African and African Diaspora Studies and Anthropology at The University of Texas at Austin.show more