This article was downloaded by: [Alma Mater Studiorum - Università di Bologna],[marlen kazani]On: 11 July 2012, At: 10:04P...
Journal of Sustainable Tourism                                                                                            ...
934      R. Bandyopadhyay and K. Nascimento                                                                               ...
Journal of Sustainable Tourism        935                                                                                 ...
936      R. Bandyopadhyay and K. Nascimento                                                                               ...
Journal of Sustainable Tourism           937                                                                              ...
938      R. Bandyopadhyay and K. Nascimento                                                                               ...
Journal of Sustainable Tourism           939                                                                              ...
940      R. Bandyopadhyay and K. Nascimento                                                                               ...
Journal of Sustainable Tourism           941                                                                              ...
942      R. Bandyopadhyay and K. Nascimento                                                                               ...
journal of sustenible tourism volume 20 2012
journal of sustenible tourism volume 20 2012
journal of sustenible tourism volume 20 2012
journal of sustenible tourism volume 20 2012
journal of sustenible tourism volume 20 2012
journal of sustenible tourism volume 20 2012
journal of sustenible tourism volume 20 2012
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journal of sustenible tourism volume 20 2012

  1. 1. This article was downloaded by: [Alma Mater Studiorum - Università di Bologna],[marlen kazani]On: 11 July 2012, At: 10:04Publisher: RoutledgeInforma Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954 Registeredoffice: Mortimer House, 37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH, UK Journal of Sustainable Tourism Publication details, including instructions for authors and subscription information: “Where fantasy becomes reality”: how tourism forces made Brazil a sexual playground a a Ranjan Bandyopadhyay & Karina Nascimento a Department of Hospitality, Recreation, and Tourism Management, San Jose State University, San Jose, California, USA Version of record first published: 15 Oct 2010To cite this article: Ranjan Bandyopadhyay & Karina Nascimento (2010): “Where fantasy becomesreality”: how tourism forces made Brazil a sexual playground, Journal of Sustainable Tourism, 18:8,933-949To link to this article: SCROLL DOWN FOR ARTICLEFull terms and conditions of use: article may be used for research, teaching, and private study purposes. Anysubstantial or systematic reproduction, redistribution, reselling, loan, sub-licensing,systematic supply, or distribution in any form to anyone is expressly forbidden.The publisher does not give any warranty express or implied or make any representationthat the contents will be complete or accurate or up to date. The accuracy of anyinstructions, formulae, and drug doses should be independently verified with primarysources. The publisher shall not be liable for any loss, actions, claims, proceedings,demand, or costs or damages whatsoever or howsoever caused arising directly orindirectly in connection with or arising out of the use of this material.
  2. 2. Journal of Sustainable Tourism Vol. 18, No. 8, November 2010, 933–949 “Where fantasy becomes reality”: how tourism forces made Brazil a sexual playground Ranjan Bandyopadhyay∗ and Karina NascimentoDownloaded by [Alma Mater Studiorum - Università di Bologna], [marlen kazani] at 10:04 11 July 2012 Department of Hospitality, Recreation, and Tourism Management, San Jose State University, San Jose, California, USA (Received 19 April 2009; final version received 16 May 2010) This paper examines the political economy of tourism representations and destination imaging in Brazil and its effect on tourism impacts in the country. The central argument is that the way Brazil and its women are represented in tourist images has an important effect on how they are consumed. By investigating the representation of Brazil and its women during colonial times by Europeans, by the Brazilian Government and by the contemporary Western media, this study explores how these representations have made Brazil a sexual playground for tourists. The study contributes to the tourism literature by concluding that Brazil’s image is not a direct outcome of tourism representations alone; rather its destination image is strongly connected with complex historical, political and cultural processes. Keywords: representations; destination image; Brazil; colonialism; politics; sensuality In Brazil, they feel no pain, no responsibility. All they feel is impending great expectations, and buttocks. Ultimately, it’s the vainest country on earth, besotted by the way it looks, its tan, its glutes, its bikini. Just watch the 60 year olds in Speedo thongs pound the boardwalk early in the morning, sucking in their stomachs. There is gym equipment all over the streets the way Phoenix has park benches. Brazil looks in the mirror every morning and loves, just adores, what it sees. Imagine what it feels like. (Roberts, 2007) Each time that I return from a trip to Brazil, I am filled with the same feeling, most closely reminding of passion. It is as though I had been the guest of a wonderful woman who was not completely conscious of her beauty. Who dances and smiles, full of life and possibilities, but who forever keeps a bit of homelessness and melancholy in the bottom of her dark eyes. (Fritidsresor Vinter 2003–2004, brochure of Swedish travel agents Fritidsresor, cited in Pruth, 2008) Introduction The Western media has often been criticized for portraying Third World destinations and communities as primitive, untouched and sensuous (Britton, 1979; Bruner, 1991; Cohen, 1993). As many authors have recently pointed out (Bandyopadhyay, 2009; Bandyopadhyay & Morais, 2005; Echtner & Prasad, 2003; Palmer, 1994), the West’s portrayals of non- Western people and places as exotic and timeless are embedded within a colonial discourse. Tourism has been identified with “neocolonialism” because it clearly reflects these con- figurations of power. Although colonialism as a system was abolished many years ago, its ∗ Corresponding author. Email: ISSN 0966-9582 print / ISSN 1747-7646 online C 2010 Taylor & Francis DOI: 10.1080/09669582.2010.497220
  3. 3. 934 R. Bandyopadhyay and K. Nascimento fundamentals continue to influence how authorities manipulate people and places through imagery (Bandyopadhyay & Morais, 2005; Britton, 1979; Echtner & Prasad, 2003; Pritchard & Morgan, 2001; Silver, 1993). The seminal work of Edward Said (1979), Orientalism, was a groundbreaking critique of the West’s historical process of conquering and creating the east as the “Oriental” and “the Other”. According to Said (1979, p. 5), “ideas, cultures and histories cannot seriously be understood or studied without . . . their configurations of power also being studied”.Downloaded by [Alma Mater Studiorum - Università di Bologna], [marlen kazani] at 10:04 11 July 2012 Moreover, space and place are no longer seen only as physical but also as “sociocultural constructions” shaped by powerful historical, political and cultural discourses (Pritchard & Morgan, 2001). In tourism, these powerful discourses construct and reinforce the images of tourism destinations and their attractions, which are all physical spaces but are furthermore an ideal. By the same token, destination marketing can reshape the culture and identity of places and their people. For instance, Pritchard and Morgan (2001) in a study of branding strategies conclude that marketing representations have been intertwined with historical, political and sociocultural processes to form the image of Wales and that these continue to influence it. Similarly, Brazil has a long history of image formation, a history that influences the present Western representations of its geographical space, culture and people. In Seeing Is Believing, Arthur Berger (1989, p. 38) defines image as “a collection of signs and symbols” and as a “tangible or visible representation” of something. For the purpose of the present discussion, the term “tourist representations” is used as it is defined by Mercille (2005, p. 1040), that is to say as “the effect of the visual and written content of guidebooks and magazines on the imagination that tourists have of a destination”. These representations give rise to stereotypes or to those innate clich´ s that are transmitted from one generation to e another (Hyndman, 2000). For instance, the popular tourist guidebook published by Lonely Planet (St. Louis, 2008, pp. 2–4) portrays Brazil as a tropical paradise and its people as wild as the jungle: For hundreds of years, Brazil has symbolised the great escape into a primordial, tropical paradise, igniting the Western imagination like no other South American country. From the mad passion of Carnival to the immensity of the dark Amazon, it is a country of mythic proportions . . . Which is wilder – the jungle or the people? Even though this was written in 2008, the idea of Brazilian wilderness is an ancient one, created by the European colonizers 500 years ago (Assuncao, 2001; Fonseca, 1996; ¸˚ Parker, 1991), and this idea has been perpetrated throughout the years until it has become ingrained in foreigners’ imagination, and consequently it is a general image of the country (Parker, 1991). Despite Brazil’s international image as a sexually free country and as a “sexual play- ground”, local attitudes toward morality in sexual behavior remain complex throughout Brazil, thus most visitors to Brazil never leave the “tourist bubble”, and they remaining oblivious to many local attitudes and to the extreme poverty in the rural areas (Rebhun, 2004). Tourists have an anticipated gaze created through preconceived notions, which is reinforced through travel and its collection of signs (Urry, 1990). When tourists arrive to Brazil they have an idea of what they are going to encounter, and they tend to look for ways to reaffirm that image and to exclude everything else that does not fit in with it. This sup- ports Pritchard and Morgan’s (2001, p. 168) assertion that “the advertisement . . . becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy”. Before the eighteenth century, travel was largely related to the oral descriptions of the experiences of others, but in modern times there has been a shift to the recording and communicating of experiences visually with photographs (Urry, 1999).
  4. 4. Journal of Sustainable Tourism 935 According to Urry’s (1999) notion of the “tourist gaze”, photographs can exclude as much as they can include, thus reinforcing “dominant visual gazes” and stereotypical representa- tions. Thus, “to gaze implies more than to look at – it signifies a psychological relationship of power, in which the gazer is superior to the object of the gaze” (Schroeder, 1998, p. 208, cited in Anand, 2007, p. 30). For instance, we often see pictures of India’s Taj Mahal and of the contrasting poverty of its people. These representations are so ingrained in the Western world that frequently people who travel to India do not look beyond those two aspects ofDownloaded by [Alma Mater Studiorum - Università di Bologna], [marlen kazani] at 10:04 11 July 2012 the country. Favero (2007, p. 59) identifies this as “touristic ways of seeing”, which is the perspective that the individual traveler takes on when exploring the world, or as the author states, it is “one way of contemplating cultural difference in the contemporary globalized habitats of the world”. This also supports Mary Louis Pratt (1992), who in her seminal work Imperial Eyes comments on the rhetorical gesture of the “monarch of all I survey”, by which the touristic gaze remains in control in the West. But how does each tourist acquire an image of a country? According to Mercille (2005), the “formation agents” influencing destination image can range from traditional forms of media advertising and popular culture to word of mouth and the actual experience of a destination. Western tourism discourses have an unmatched power that combines narrative and spectacle to represent Brazil as “sensuous”. Recent scholars, influenced by Foucault’s (1977) work on power and Said’s (1979) notion of orientalism, have ably documented how hegemonic tourism representations can create the “Exotic Other” for Western tourists. However, apart from a few notable exceptions, scholars have failed to conduct in-depth studies to understand how these tourism representations form part of wider discursive frameworks that are grounded in complex sociocultural and historical processes and how thereby they turn a destination into the “West’s pleasure periphery” and tourism into a new colonizer (Bandyopadhyay, 2010). This fact has gained more importance because, “as recent scholars of globalization and sexuality have argued, contemporary encounters between people are informed by a representational regime that, originating in colonial periods, has been re-configured according to the contemporary dictates of globalization and transnationalism” (Altman, 2001; Constable, 2003; Jolly & Manderson, 1997; Kelsky, 2001; Povinelli & Chauncey, 1999, as cited in Maia, 2009, p. 38). The present study addresses this significant lacuna in past research through an in-depth exploration of the case study of Brazil. The following four questions guided the study: (1) How was Brazil represented during colonial times? (2) How was/is Brazil represented by the Brazilian Government (Tourism Ministry)? (3) How is Brazil represented by the Western media? (4) How have these representations made Brazil a sexual playground for tourists? Methodology Data were collected from several sources to answer the research questions. In order to examine how Brazil is represented in colonial travel writings, textual representations of Brazil and Brazilians were collected from books written during the nineteenth century. This period was considered for the data collection because the nineteenth century is regarded as the richest period of travel writing (Blanton, 2002), and among Latin American countries Brazil received the most attention at that time from travel writers (Hahner, 2001). During the colonial era “travel accounts were frequently translated into several European languages and gathered into collections of voyages” (Teltscher, 1995, p. 3). For more than 400 years,
  5. 5. 936 R. Bandyopadhyay and K. Nascimento European explorers’ travel writings make it apparent how important the romantic gaze was during that colonial period. Those writings, on the one hand, provided the travelers with self-discovery, and on the other hand, they were an integral part of the European colonial ideology of improvement (Arnold, 2006; Nayar, 2005). To explore how Brazil was/is represented by the Brazilian Government, data from secondary sources were collected, especially the work of scholars who have conducted fieldwork in Brazil and are specialists on the topic of “sex tourism in Brazil”. The discussionDownloaded by [Alma Mater Studiorum - Università di Bologna], [marlen kazani] at 10:04 11 July 2012 in this part of the paper mainly examines how Embratur (the Brazilian Tourist Agency) promoted Brazil in a derogatory way during the period of 1966–2002. It also considers how, in order to get rid of the negative image promoted for decades by Embratur, the Brazilian Tourism Ministry was formed in 2003 and how since then it has attempted to promote Brazil in a very different way. To find out how Brazil and Brazilians are represented in contemporary Western travel writings and to explore how tourism forces made Brazil a sexual playground, a sample of brochures and travel magazines were considered as a source of information. These brochures and travel magazines are “multifaceted texts which challenge several conven- tional assumptions about the nature of post-modern culture” (Selwyn, 1996, p. 16). In this study 10 brochures were identified for analysis. These brochures, from Thomas Cook and Thomson Holidays, were collected from six travel agencies in the UK during August 2007. Visits to additional travel agencies yielded no new brochures, suggesting that a saturation point had been reached. Also, two travel magazines with special issues on Brazil (Conde Nast Traveler and National Geographic: Adventure) and two magazines with information on tourism in Brazil (Vanity Fair and Essence) were also analyzed. In addition, to explore the touristic image of Brazil, interviews were conducted with 10 American men. The questions were open-ended, and the interviews were informal and unstructured. The analyses of all data (images, texts and interviews) focused on interpretation, mean- ing and context, doing so with the help of “deconstruction” techniques (Derrida, 1995). This method was previously advocated for similar work by Felsenmeier and MacKay (1996): [D]econstruction is being employed as a means of inquiry to examine the politics of image, to reveal destination marketers as “authors” of this image, and to provide a framework for uncovering the implications of reconstructing destinations based on idealised images. Several steps were taken in an attempt to minimize bias during the process of data anal- ysis. It is important to note that one of the researchers is a native of India and currently lives in the US. The co-author is Brazilian and also lives in the US. Their different backgrounds proved valuable in the data analysis process. Colonial representations of Brazil During colonial times, the representations of the colonized countries and communities in the context of imperialism justified the scientific objectives of ethnography (Spurr, 1993). These hegemonic representations cast the Other as primitive, irrational and inefficient, which was in contrast with the civilized, rational and efficient West. As Mary Louise Pratt (1992) contends, travel writing is inherently associated with the practices of colonization. Pratt (1992, p. 4) identifies this with “contact zones, social spaces where disparate cultures meet, clash, and grapple with each other, often in highly asymmetrical relations of domination and subordination [italics in original]”. On 21 April 1500, Pedro Alvares Cabral bumped into the northeast of Brazil looking for India, “the elusive land of spices and dreams” (Fausto, 1930/1999), but instead he found
  6. 6. Journal of Sustainable Tourism 937 a “tropical Eden” (Parker, 1991). By mid-century, wealthy colonists there had established a sugar cane crop and imported African slaves to work it (Bradbury, 1997; Fausto, 1930/1999). It is speculated that the number of imported slaves there passed the nine million mark (Rocha, 2000). Until 1773, there was segregation between people of pure blood and those of impure blood. People with impure blood comprised free blacks, Indians and racially mixed people. Brazil became a melting pot from the early days of the colony (Haring, 1958). Indigenous women were seen as very sensual, and the process of colonizing andDownloaded by [Alma Mater Studiorum - Università di Bologna], [marlen kazani] at 10:04 11 July 2012 peopling the land was done through mixing or miscibility, rather than mobility (Parker, 1991). As Haring (1958, p. 8) notes: In the beginning, when European women were few, Indian women became the mothers of the children of the Portuguese adventurers. And very soon Negroes were brought in as slaves from Portuguese possessions across the Atlantic in West Africa. Negro slaves . . . far outnumbered the whites. The white planter, besides his white family, often had a numerous colored progeny as well, who were frequently treated as sons of their father and sometimes were educated. The Portuguese, in fact, have displayed little or no aversion to the so-called colored races, biologically or socially. While interracial relationships and even marriages continued throughout the centuries, it was important to preserve the colonial hierarchy and thus to protect the sexual honor of elite women of European descent (Chambers, 2003). Nonetheless, the consequence of this interracial relation was that most Brazilians are now a blend of three races – European, Indian and African – and the racial complexion also varies from one region to another (Chambers, 2003; Cleary, Jenkins, & Marshall, 1998; Haring, 1958; Parker, 1991; Tribe, 1996). Sensuous women Several scholars have commented that during the colonial period, readers in Europe expected exotic travel stories. And to feed the fantasies of this audience, travel writers narrated bizarre travel stories, which still exist in the Western world. In the descriptions of Brazilian women there was a dangerous eroticism. The powerful colonial discourse portrayed an image of the Brazilian women as alluring and dangerous to the Western male. Freyre (1974, p. 91) describes this eroticism of Brazilian women: The Milieu in which Brazilian life began was one of sexual intoxication. No sooner had the European leaped ashore than he found his feet slipping among the naked Indian women; . . . the women were the first to offer themselves to the Whites, the more ardent ones going to rub themselves against the legs of these beings whom they supposed to be Gods. They would give themselves to the European for a comb or a broken mirror. Even before the discovery of Brazil, there were speculations about a land that was a “terrestrial paradise” (Assuncao, 2001; Fonseca, 1996), and this led to many legends and ¸˚ myths. However, Pˆ ro Vaz de Caminha, a Portuguese explorer and one of the captains of e the fleet in the discovery of Brazil, wrote detailed accounts of the discovery of Brazil in his collection of letters Carta de Pˆ ro Vaz de Caminha sent to the Portuguese King Manuel e I. In his analyses of Caminha’s letters, Fonseca (1996) used semiotics to study the “signs” in these letters in order to understand the mentality of the explorers during colonial times. Fonseca (1996, pp. 100–104) classifies the European vision of Caminha’s letters as an “ethnocentric myth of the savage”, with a feminine discourse characterized by the desire to dominate and possess: The text [i.e. the letter from Colombo to Santagel, describing Cuba] creates in the reader a longing for the land, through a rhetoric of desire that inscribes “the Indies” in a psychosexual
  7. 7. 938 R. Bandyopadhyay and K. Nascimento discourse of the feminine whose principal coordinates are initially beauty and fertility and ultimately possession and domination. Nonetheless, Fonseca’s purpose is to show the imperialistic mentality of the Europeans. The image of Brazil that priests and navigators portrayed during the sixteenth century reflected their mentality and views about the native people and the nature of the land and the myths of “terrestrial paradise” and of the “age of gold” (Assuncao, 2001). Another ¸˚ important book that created a mythical image of Brazil among the Europeans was UtopiaDownloaded by [Alma Mater Studiorum - Università di Bologna], [marlen kazani] at 10:04 11 July 2012 written by Thomas More. According to Assuncao (2001), More fed the imagination and ¸˚ curiosity of Europeans through his account of the differences encountered – Brazil was described as scary with wild animals and reptiles, “and humans even more primitive and savage than the animals” (Assuncao, 2001, p. 219). The main idea of the book was that the ¸˚ further south one went from the equator, the hotter and thus wilder it became: the climate of the land was considered malign because of its bad influence on the habitants. Although the land in Brazil was considered good, the Jesuits believed that the tropical diseases were a plague brought from God because of the promiscuity of the Indians. From the analyses of Caminha’s letters, one can better understand how the natives were portrayed and how the myths began. Most letters found from the time of the discovery of Brazil stress the shameless nudity of the native women: There walked among them three of 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 (that had no shame) so gracious, that many women from our land, seeing her countenance, will feel shame in not having theirs like hers. (Caminha, 1965, p. 92, as cited in Parker, 1991, p. 10) The image of a paradise was being contrasted with the opposite, which according to Parker (1991, p. 12) was “an image of hell on earth as profound as the wildest creations of the European mind”. Moreover, the sensuality, sexuality and eroticism of the Brazilian females were exaggerated in the letters of explorers written to people in their countries. As Parker (1991, p. 14) puts it, “it was a vision centered on the question of sexual life, sensuality, and eroticism no less than on the obvious potential for economic exploitation and colonization”. Throughout the rest of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the myths about Brazil and the sensuality of its people continued to flourish in Europe. Cultural influences During the twentieth century, the male anxiety and concern over the “invasion” of women in public spaces influenced men, as a dominating force, strongly to emphasize the sexualization of women (Gomes, 2004). Although slavery had ended, blacks and mulattos were still considered inferior, and most of them had very low positions in society, such as servants. Gomes (2004, p. 129) has analyzed literature from the 1920s, and he states that the white middle-class girls were called “girls of good tune”, whereas the mulatta was the servant and a symbol of sexuality typical of African descendants. Gomes (2004, p. 131) clarifies: I met yesterday, in the mermaid house, on the Botafogo Beach, a legit type of Venus. It was a black Venus. Tall, voluptuous, thing features, and a perfect body. A simple dress, but with great cleavage. Thus, a “racialized vision of sexuality” (Gomes, 2004) was, and continues to be, explicit in the description of a mulatta.
  8. 8. Journal of Sustainable Tourism 939 Music helped increase the consumption of “black cultural products”. In a story about the history of the samba carioca (samba from Rio), Gomes (2004, p. 139) mentions the diffusion of samba and the assimilation of the classes through these “cultural products”: Coming from African lands, . . . it got established in our sertoes, and it flourished amongst the black race. After the Abolition and the Republic, the racial relations became harmonious, and the sweetness of the samba went from blacks, to the middle of the Alva race. As a result, today samba is pilgrimage that the mocas of high society deliciously practice in the middle of the ¸Downloaded by [Alma Mater Studiorum - Università di Bologna], [marlen kazani] at 10:04 11 July 2012 carnavalesco ballroom; and with costumes they tap their shoes and break down their hips. The author calls this equality between the “good families of the capital” and the melin- drosas (well-dressed mulattas, or girls who can move their hips) a blackened modernity (Gomes, 2004, p. 142). And these similarities between both groups, through exhibiting their bodies, gave rise to the image of sexual accessibility, which in turn gives the im- pression that the West has adopted a behavior similar to the savage Africans and Indians who have no shame in showing their bodies in public (Gomes, 2004). The literature of the twentieth century reveals a clear mentality of the period, and it shows that sexualization and femininization created a panic among the patriarchal males of Brazil. Further, this female transformation created a public space in the big cities where race and class were no longer segregated. This is not to say that Brazil is an absolute “racial democracy” (Caldwell, 2004; Pravaz, 2003) or has “racial harmony” (McCallum, 2005), as many have claimed. In fact, Brazil is a very racially and culturally complex country. In the twenty-first century, the sexual image of Brazilian women continued to be rein- forced through sociocultural discourses of racism in patriarchal relations and popular cul- ture. These are still some examples of powerful colonial discourses that have helped to shape the Brazilian national identity as well as the image and representations of Brazilian women. Brazilian government’s representations of Brazil Although sex tourism in Brazil became an issue in the 1990s, it had already started to appear in the 1970s (Pruth, 2008). Tourists became attracted to newer destinations, and especially to Brazil, because of the saturation of the sex tourism industry in Thailand and the Philippines. During this period Brazil was under a military dictatorship. In 1966, the military government, instead of spreading the idea of liberalism and democracy at a time of military dictatorship, created Embratur, the Brazilian Tourist Agency, with the purpose of reshaping the tarnished image of the country, caused by reports of torture and abuse by the dictatorship (Minini, 2004; Pruth, 2008). Thus, Embratur became an important instrument for the formation of Brazil’s image abroad. As Alfonso (2006) commented: Since its early years in the beginning of the 1970s up to the end of the 1990s, Embratur, the governmental body responsible for the regulation of the national tourist sector, disseminated images of almost naked women, mostly in Rio de Janeiro, in leaflets and banners. This city and symbols like the mulatta and samba, representing the beauties of Brazilian beaches and the national carnival, were chosen to structure Brazil’s image in the international tourist market. Filho (2005) went further and suggested that in its advertisements Embratur emphasized Brazilian woman’s physical assets such as big bottoms, their tanned skin and ease of being seduced. “Women were used not only directly by Embratur, but also in the tourism magazine Rio, Samba e Carnaval which was distributed in various languages in Brazil and abroad with support of Embratur, and which for many years used and abused the image of women as a main tourist attraction of Rio de Janeiro” (Prado, 2006, as cited in Pruth, 2008, p. 4). For four decades, Embratur invested large amounts of money in promoting the nudity of
  9. 9. 940 R. Bandyopadhyay and K. Nascimento the carnival to attract international tourists, and as a result, after years of this erroneous publicity, it was a normal consequence that “many associate Carnival with Rio de Janeiro” and Brazil with “glossy photos of nearly naked women” (Vincent, 2003, p. 87). This image became so profound that it was “common for hotels in Rio de Janeiro to show a picture of a woman instead of the inside of the rooms in their marketing material” (Pruth, 2008, p. 5). At the end of the 1990s, Brazil became one of the top sex tourism destinations, compet-Downloaded by [Alma Mater Studiorum - Università di Bologna], [marlen kazani] at 10:04 11 July 2012 ing with Thailand, Sri Lanka, the Philippines and the Caribbean Islands (Piscitelli, 2001). According to Finger (2003), there were approximately 100,000–500,000 girl prostitutes in Brazil, and the country was one of the major exporters of women prostitutes in the world. Finger (2003, p. 4) clarifies this: Every year about 70,000 women aged 15–25 years are sent abroad via 131 trafficking routes to other South American countries such as Venezuela, Argentina, and Paraguay, and to Europe. . . . Commercial exploitation networks also operate nationwide through 77 interstate and 32 intercity routes mostly in northern, midwestern, and northeast regions, supplying the domestic industries of nightclubs, hotels, internet pornography, and sex tourism. Unfortunately, these girls are usually poor, uneducated, from broken homes, abused by relatives and sometimes even sold by the family or coerced by friends, who take advantage of their innocence and inexperience (Richter, 2005). In order to sell Brazil to Western tourists, the images advertised by Embratur throughout the years were of almost naked women on paradisiacal beaches. But more recently these images were being questioned as discussions gained strength about sex tourism and the infamous denigrating images of Brazilian women (Alfonso, 2006). As the issue of sex tourism became problematic in Brazil, Embratur was criticized for marketing Brazil in a derogatory way. As a result, Embratur launched the nationwide campaign “Beware! Brazil Is Watching You”, and it also abandoned the pictures of nearly naked woman in all its promotional material (Prado, 2006). Finally, in 2003, Brazilian President Luiz Ign´ cio Lula da Silva created the Brazilian a Tourism Ministry with the goal to “re-position Brazil as a product on the international market” (Felizardo & Andrade, 2005). However, despite the Brazilian Government trying to change the image of the country and to market the nation’s natural attractions to tourists, the problems of sex tourism and child sex tourism remain far from solved. In fact, because of the popularity of child prostitution, it is reported that 40,000 children a year go missing in Brazil, with most likely to end up working in prostitution rings for foreign tourists (“40,000 minors disappear”, 2006). Dixon (2006, pp. 65–66) provides a clear example of how sex tourism has negatively impacted on more mainstream tourism in Brazil: Copacabana, a once wealthy neighborhood of Rio de Janeiro, . . . used to be a significant tourist destination. The area was known for its glamorous, high end tourism in the 1920’s, 1930’s, and 1940’s, but the town experienced a serious decline until it reached the point of today which is a beautiful beach community full of prostitutes. The symbol of Copacabana’s glorious days is the historic and ornate Copacabana Palace Hotel. Opened in 1923, the Palace attracted the A-list of the international set. However, as rural dwellers moved into Rio de Janeiro looking for work in the 1950’s and 1960’s, foreign tourism took a back seat to coping with the ramifications of this urban migration. As a result, the tourism industry of Copacabana fell into disrepair and soon prostitution became the principal money maker. Thus, because of its seedy reputation, Copacabana no longer enjoys the fruits of the international jet set, and instead must make do with the revenue generated from sexual tourists. Even though Embratur was a major force forming the nation’s image, the image that Brazilians have of their own country is also an important influence on the choice of elements that form the nation’s image. On the basis of study findings, Piscitelli (2001, p. 23) suggests
  10. 10. Journal of Sustainable Tourism 941 that the “sexualization of the country and of the people is far from restricting itself to the international visitor . . . [T]his sexualization is present in the perceptions that the female interviewees have of themselves”. Similarly, based on fieldwork in Brazil about the country’s sexual culture, Parker (1991, pp. 169–170) notes that women there often accept the labels of sensuality and sexuality as national identity: Regardless of class, region, or any other circumstance, for example, the possibilities that are open to women throughout Brazil are more limited than those that are open to men . . . and theDownloaded by [Alma Mater Studiorum - Università di Bologna], [marlen kazani] at 10:04 11 July 2012 fact that some changes have begun to take place among the most privileged sectors of Brazilian society must not be allowed to obscure the degree of oppression that still characterizes the lives of the vast majority of women within a profoundly patriarchal social order. Thus, the construction of a specific “touristic space” is not fully the responsibility of marketing but a combination of outside and inside forces, such as historical, sociocultural and other powerful discourses. Contemporary Western representations of Brazil At Cepilho, a surf beach flanked by boulders, Bob Marley blares from loudspeakers in an open trunk while a Brazilian girl catches a wave so masterfully that the whole beach whistles. An ideal spot for cheap camping and plentiful pot (pipes are still sold on the main drag). Trinidad became popular among hippies and surfers in the 1970s. Bodies of every size and shape are being flaunted in the smallest bikinis imaginable, and equal numbers of voluptuous mamas and Gisele look-alikes let it all hang out. (Cohane, 2007, p. 244) If two promotional metaphors dominate the Western media’s representations of Brazil, they are the themes of “eroticization” and “dreaming”, which are ubiquitous in all the brochures and magazines surveyed. Thus, Brazil is the “pleasure periphery” on which the sexual fantasies of Western men are played out. Tourists, reading these brochures and magazines, as a result will meet “dream women” through a discourse and power which Stuart Hall (1992, p. 302) labels “the West and the Rest”. This fantasy creation of Brazilian women is nicely captured in the following comments from the Conde Nast Traveller’s special section (Ellenberg, 2007, p. 1) on the secrets of the perfect Brazilian tan: Contrary to widespread skepticism, Brazilians do in fact wear sunscreen as they loll about on Copacabana . . . [and] . . . Brazilian women have been known to rub sand on their bodies while they tan, to help reveal a more radiant surface and reduce cellulite. Whether because of their liberal sexual culture or all that tanning, Brazilian women are used to walking around with fewer clothes – they are more comfortable with their bodies. Despite everything you have heard, Brazilian women rarely goes topless: Tan lines are points of pride for true sun worshippers as they illustrate a good day’s work. Selling dreams is important in tourism marketing. As Glasser (1975, p. 23) notes, “You don’t sell a product; you sell a dream”. The construction of tourists’ dreams is fundamental to the promotion of Brazil as a seductive tourism destination. National Geographic: Adventure described Brazil in the following way: Brazil’s massive geography is rivaled only by the immense spirit of the Brazilians themselves. Passionate, uninhibited celebrants of life, they have plenty of room to revel in and know how to pass the party along. (Robinson, 2006, p. 26) Brochures for Thomson Holidays (2007) and Thomas Cook (2007) and Vanity Fair magazine in its special issue (Roberts, 2007) on Brazil portrayed Brazil and Brazilians in a similar vein:
  11. 11. 942 R. Bandyopadhyay and K. Nascimento Mention Brazil and what springs to mind? Snake-hipped dancers moving in time to hypnotic samba rhythms? Sun, sea and samba – succumb to the tropical beat and contagious energy of Brazil. Whether it’s the rustle of palms swaying in the breeze or the playful blast of a carnival whistle, Brazil radiates a love of life like no other. Wild, exuberant and passionate, Brazil is a big country with a big heart. It’s a vast storehouse of natural wonders, with the Amazon, its artery plunging into Brazil’s heart, just one of this land’s super-sized attractions. Its cities are full on and fabulous, whether you visit during Carnival orDownloaded by [Alma Mater Studiorum - Università di Bologna], [marlen kazani] at 10:04 11 July 2012 not. Its beaches are sultry and sensual, its rain forests steamy and abundant with life. Brazilians have the ability to make a party out of nothing and then make it the most exciting night you have ever had. Someone once said that dancing is the vertical expression of a horizontal desire. The way Brazilian’s dance; it’s not an expression, its foreplay. Thus, these representations emphasize the firmly set fantasy aspect of Brazil’s touristic image. As a result, Western tourists are attracted to Brazil by tourism promotions which promise it as a place where fantasies may be fulfilled. As Cohen (1982, p. 9) eloquently opined: The important point to note about “realized Utopia” is that its “realization” is made possible not only, and sometimes not at all, by an approximation of social reality to the ideal; but also, and often primarily, by a vulgarization of that ideal. How these representations have made Brazil a sexual playground for tourists Are all the women in Brazil really very hot? I heard that they are very sweet too. Don’t misunderstand me . . . [T]his is what all my male friends in America think of Brazilian women. I think, it’s not just America, it’s a Universal male curiosity. (37-year-old American male) I heard that if someone walks alone in the Copacabana Beach in Rio, Brazilian women jump over him. That’s scary but wonderful. I can’t wait to go to Brazil but my girlfriend doesn’t allow me to go there. (20-year-old American male college student) In tourism marketing, in order “to meet customer expectations, promoted dream images must also be matched by the physical reality of the tourism resource” (Schellhorn & Perkins, 2004, p. 126). Thus, narratives create myths and fantasies in the minds of foreign and domestic tourists, which in turn create expectations and demands that must be fulfilled. According to Pravaz (2003, p. 117), “the mulatahas become a central and problematic figure of desire in the Brazilian and Western imaginaries”. The mulatta is traditionally celebrated during carnival and in the shows de mulata (spectacles where the mulatta dances the samba); however, the mulatta can also be simply a “woman of mixed racial descent, but it also evokes images of voluptuous bodies, sensuality, and the ability to dance samba” (Pravaz, 2003, p. 116). Pravaz (2003) suggests that history, colonialism, racism and patriarchy continue to keep women, especially black women, in Brazil from finding other ways to achieve upward mobility, education or even a decent career. These barriers force them to explore their mulatice or “blackness” so that they can have a chance to shine. There is also racial tension in Brazil, especially around the origins of the samba and carnival, and because of this tension even white Brazilian women try to become mulattas. The complexity of the culture and ethnicity is fascinating, and the sensuality of Brazilian woman is fantasized and even “fetishized” and in many cases exploited, which can lead to denigration of women and to violence and prostitution. The following romanticized description of a Brazilian woman illustrates both sides of the coin: Before you know it, a woman about 5 feet 10 inches tall, with green eyes and full lips, slips up to you. Her skin, the color of creamy coffee, is flawless. She’s so fine that you feel the Lord