Laughter Out of Place

Chapter 4 and 5

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Laughter Out of Place by Mind Map: Laughter Out of Place

1. Laugh to keep from crying: laughter is a survival mechanism, an outlet

2. Humor is used as the theme that chart the intersections among the hierarchies of race, class, gender, and sexuality within poverty-stricken communities

2.1. The laughter of the people (Carnivale, religious rituals) gatherings, etc.) is the vehicle used to challenge those in power but simultaneously the powerful is using the poor as a source of entertainment.

3. Population feels like objects/targets of hierarchy

4. Of the ten million residents of the metropolitan Rio de Janeiro population, one million live in favelas (shantytowns) and women form the backbone of the population


5.1. Poverty is passe. No one wants to read about it or study it anymore.

5.2. Still a need for someone to give voice to those who do not have an avenue to communicate

5.3. Still need to provide ethnographic context to reader

5.4. Immersion into the culture: Gloria and the observer's relationship

5.5. Friendship developed between Gloria and observer that was unusual for the observer but common to Brazilians.

5.6. Gloria first was a servant to observer; Invited observer to her home to see how the other half lives

5.7. Relationship changed from employer-employee relationship to anthropologist- primary informant

5.8. "Revolting contrast" between how Gloria lived and how the anthropologist and her middle class friends lived all within the same area

5.9. Break Every Chain (Class and Domination): unable to rebel black humor (laughter) used to oppose Brazilian racial, class, and gender ideology and deal with the tragedy and sadness that poverty brings

5.10. Black humor: Soneca, Gloria's daughter, in a carnivalesque manner informing the observer of her brother's death

5.11. The story of Celina's death, Gloria's sister, and the humor injected is an example of the black humor that helps them to deal with the horror of their lives

5.12. Carnival: a break from the misery

5.13. A reflection of Brazil to the world as portrayed by Brazilians

5.14. Where everything is permitted and anything is possible

5.15. A ritual of inversion where the poor is elevated and the powerful become the targets of oppression and ridicule

5.16. Carnival, like laughter, is short lived

5.17. Gloria, her family and friends everyday humor is similar to Carnivale: makes fun of the wealthy, but also "pokes fun of the miserable circumstances in which they find themselves"

5.18. Biases of Observers

5.18.1. Other Latin Americans viewed Brazil as separate Latin American Country: dress, sensuality Middle upper-class families, university educated, cosmopolitan in outlook

5.19. Case Study: Gloria

5.20. 3 Years since seen Gloria's family (1992). Not much had changed. Same poverty.

5.21. Gloria had a total of 14 children in her care but one died

5.22. In the entire community 2 to 3 families owned cars

5.23. Actual former barrier (barreira) existed that marked the end of the community.

5.24. Houses leading up to Barreira: neat shacks, (brightly painted bungalows with cemented floors); wattle-and-daub huts; ramshackles structures.

5.25. Habitants were poor but had some kind of television or radio

5.26. Gloria friends were made up of different economic status from poorest to wealthiest

5.27. Gloria's family were the poorest of the poorest;



7.1. The difference between the rich's emply ness and the poor's empty nest. The rich laments, the poor rejoices.

7.2. Discrimination in employment prevents many families from dispersing.

7.3. Domestic work is available to Afro-Brazilian characterized by low pay and racial disparity

7.4. Most domestic work is carried out by women.

7.5. Most jobs require "boa aparencia": meaning a good appearance. Veiled discrimination for dark skinned people need not apply.

7.6. Living wage means heavy manual labor or in case of Gloria, heavy-duty day cleaner. Living at home afforded Gloria a unique opportunity. Usually, the work card is not signed for this status.

7.7. Gloria's work days typically is 14 hours per day.

7.8. Although hours were long, her pay was more attractive than live in domestics.

7.9. Gloria had a unique and palatable employer-employee work relationship with her boss (patroa). Her boss was a social worker at a firm that provided a home to street children. The boss was conscious of the importance of women's labor and made a deliberate attempt to pay Gloria a higher wage than normal. She also provided Gloria a transportation stipend.

7.10. Brazilian middle "classness" is a state of mind.

7.11. Employing a domestic is a class marker for the middle class in Rio de Janeiro.

7.12. Rio's low paying servant economy keeps it afloat. There in an increasing feminization of its workforce and a growing participation of children in the economy.

7.13. Imperial domination in Brazil is marked by first slavery then later, servitude which is quite similar.

7.14. The lower economic echelon does not respect its own moving up in ranks. Resents having to wait on them as a domestic.

7.15. Although the relationship between employer is employee is oppressive, the relationship is sometimes characterized by true affection and seeking to assist in troubled times.

7.16. The privileged classes convince themselves that their patronage is healthier for their servants the the lives available to them on the streets or married to a man of their own status to care for them.

7.17. Academic credentialing does not equate to social mobility and capital gain.

7.18. Cultural capital are a possession of the dominant classes and are acquired through the process of class production and reproduction.

7.19. Domestics are treated as property passed down through a wealthy family from generation to generation.

7.20. How the domestics and wealthy class behave in public is a sign of economic status and mobility: poor folks don't know how to behave in public. Certain stores do not welcome people in working class attire.

7.21. The wealthy have become preoccupied with public space due to the prevailing crime.

7.22. There is a bifurcated public school system in Brazil so that the upper and lower classes do not mix.

7.23. According to Bourdieu, educational capital and how corollarially schools serve to reproduce the cultural ad class divisions in any society in both visible and invisible ways.

7.24. The notion that education will bring social mobility is one that must necessarily be restricted because of the other factors that constitute the make up of the system.

7.25. To enter higher education students are expected to pass a highlyt competitive vestibular (admission examination). After attending a second-rate public school very few individuals in the poor sectors are able to pass the exam.

7.26. In Felicidade Eternal children were expected to be productive and to work from a very young age.

7.27. There are signs in social unrest in Brazil in response to the vestiges of slavery in the Country. Many women are moving into suburban factory work-men territory.

7.28. The younger generation would rather do anything than domestic work.


8.1. Brazil's multicolor expression of diversity is a matter of national pride. White and Black skin tone symbolizes class rather than race.

8.2. North Americans discuss race based affirmative action but no class based affirmative action.

8.3. Historical events enabled Brazilians to embrace mesticagem, the reputed blending of indigenous American, Iberian, and African people into a single national identity. In United States raced is used to suggest utterly separate human types.

8.4. Brazil did not develop a legal structure that supported racism. The United States did. Therefore, denial of opportunity could not be challenged in courts because no law was broken.

8.5. Things African derived were absorbed into Brazil's national identity ((ex. Umbanda religion).Those cultural facets that were purely African or associated with slavery were denigrated.

8.6. However, blackness-dark skin color and African racial features-continue to be associated with slavery and are considered ugly.

8.7. Despite the economic legacy of slavery, poverty in Brazil is conceptualized as a class problem rather than a race problem.

8.8. Since 1950s, most Brazilianist have agreed on the following interpretation of the construction of race: according to appearance; America, one drop of Black blood and a bi-polarized Black v. White.

8.9. Brazil's erotic paradise representation. Celebrated during carnival.

8.10. Freyre's thoughts: Colonizers sexually idealized the dark skinned woman. This is believed to create a less violent slavery compared to the rest of the Americas.

8.11. Thomas Skidsmore believes Freyre's assertions were harnessed by Brazilian elites to promote the whitening ideal.

8.12. Brazil was the last country on earth to abolish slavery, it was more apt to incorporate a African and indigenous culture.

8.13. The imagery of a fun loving population, of free and unhindered sexuality, and of tropical sensuality was summarized and celebrated in the representation of the sexy mulata.

8.14. Freyre never emphasized rape but rather consensual which he asserts led to the color-blind erotic democracy.

8.15. Mixed race or black women are (or idealized representations of such women) with certain whitened characteristics are appreciated for their beauty and sensuality, while the loaw-income mixed-race and black women are barred from economic and social mobility.

8.16. Most people of color in Brazil know that it is not a racial democracy but toy with the idea of an erotic democracy.

8.17. Contemporary scholars of sexuality have avoided the connection between race and sexuality, thus preserving the notion that Brazilian sexuality guarantees an implicitly color blind society.

8.18. In Carnivale the ideal representation of the mulata is eroticized, exoticized, and celebrated, while real women of color are kept from mainstream economic advancement.

8.19. Sexual discourses about black or mixed-race women are appropriated and reproduced by the women themselves.

8.20. North Americans often engage in philosophical conversations regarding race based affirmative action but it is almost treasonous to consider any conversation regarding class based affirmative action.

8.21. In Brazil conversation centered around race and racism are shunned. Historical events led to Brazilians embracing mesticagen, " the reputed historical blending of indigenous American, Iberian, and African peoples into a single national identity.

8.22. Unlike the US, racism was not codified in Brazil, therefore legal challenges did not occur.

8.23. African-derived cultural elements were blended and absorbed (appropriated) into Brazilian identity. Anything purely African or associated with slavery was denigrated.

8.24. Regardless of the cultural absorbtion, "blackness-dark skin color and African racial features-continue to be associated with slavery and are considered ugly.

8.25. Despite historical slavery in Brazil, the concentration of Blacks in poor classes, that "Blackness" is considered ugly, poverty and discrimination in Brazil is considered a class problem and not attributed to race.

8.26. Brazilians have the following construction of race based on appearance and racial identities: Black (preto, negro), white (branco), brown or mized (moreno, mulato), dark (escuro), light (claro), closed (fechado), freckled (sarara) and others, making "both color and race ambiguous to insiders and outsiders alikeP.

8.27. It is believed that those who have lighter skin or "whiter" characteristics have better chances of securing better job opportunities and leaving the shantytowns moving into neighborhoods that qualify as poor but better.

8.28. Women's attractiveness and worth are related to appearance and sex appeal. Men's attractiveness and worth are related to their economic well being.

8.29. Black women and the mulatto is overly exoticized and sexualized.

8.30. Brazil as a racial democracy is supported by stating that the nation does not practice de facto discrimination because White men have sex with the lesser Black woman or mulatto.

8.31. "Mixed-race or black women (or idealized representations of such women) with certain "whitened" characteristics are appreciated for their beauty and sexuality, white the majority of low-income mixed-race and black women are barred from economic and social mobility".

8.32. Through a coroa a women could possibly overcome her blackness or dark skin by being a seductress. Women who believe this know that Brazil is not a racial democracy but possibly a erotic democracy.

8.33. "Blackness becomes valuable only in specific situations where sexual commodification is the operational framework".

8.34. Gloria and her friends do not interpret the coroa or commodity relationship to economic sustainability as racist. Gloria believes that a dark-skinned woman has nothing to offer and upwardly mobile, dark-skinned man.

8.35. "Sexual discourses about black or mixed-race women are in this manner appropriated and reproduced by [the low economic] women themselves".

8.36. Advertising that Brazil is this color-blind erotic democracy -that the power associated with gender, race, and class plays no role in sexual partnership-helps to mask and normalize everyday racism and internalized racism in Brazil.


9.1. Gloria's belated incarcerated son at a very young age (Pedro) rebelled against Gloria's definition of honest work ,and what it led to.

9.2. Pedro believed that it was impossible for any "self respecting man to support his family on Brazilian minimum wage.

9.3. "Pedro had watched Gloria and her entire generation slave away as dometic workers in the homes of the wealthy...for barely subsistence wage. Men like Pedro felt they had been cheated out of their own futures. Pedro realized that people who looked like him and live where he lived are denied social upward mobility.

9.4. Gloria lamented that her work kept her from being able to properly monitor her children, specifically Pedro, and that is what led to him becoming a member of the gang, institutionalized and killed in the streets by police from a robbery gone bad.

9.5. Brazil's official implemented a systematic attack (cleansing) of street children. A type of socioeconomic genocide by death squads who were off duty police. "On the one hand, the children are seen as innocent victims of their country's social and economic conditions. On the other, they are perceived as part of a growing population of irredeemable criminals.

9.6. Some of the children live in household that places them at risk , so they choose the streets. It is a paradox. Da Matta describes this division as the home is the female domain; it is identified with a hierarchical and personalistic moral world, whereas the street is both more egalitarian and more individualistic. The street is a place of danger and excitement where hierarchies are suspended; the poor rob the rich, women flirt with men, the young deviate from parents' rules, and people of color disobey white people"

9.7. The Street is also a place where unprotected women become vulnerable. It is often subject to the logic and rules, as well as the revenge cycles of gangs".

9.8. Hecht explains from the perspective of the poor, the relationship between impoverished children-nurturing children-and their mothers. For the poor "children can be seen as an economic asset, and many take on the role of providers within their own homes and see this as a virtue". Being at home refers to being with one's mother and helping out," accepting her advice and discipline and augmenting the family income and even going to school". Being in the street is not just living in the streets but "getting into trouble with the gangs or policy, or evening being subjected to one of the state's institutions". Women fear and try to keep their children out of the streets by sometimes exacting "harsh forms of discipline in hopes of keeping their children in line and off the street".

9.9. Gloria kicked out her daughters: Filomena, and Fernanda. "Preexisting relationships play a very important role in understanding the motivations that led this mother to send one of her teenage daughters out into the street.

9.10. Survivalist ethos can lead to harsh forms or perceived harsh forms of discipline in order to keep the household in order. Where the parent sending a child away to become a leave in maid is not seen as punishment to the young child being separated from their family at such a young age is seen as punishnent.

9.11. Gloria made a child eat their own fesces and say Mmm has if he enjoyed it. She burned a child's hand on the stove because he stole money

9.12. Gloria sees what she is doing as "trying to make sure that her older children have the skills, including the obedience, humility, and even the subservience necessary for a poor, dark-skinned black person to survive in urban Brazil.

9.13. The children of the poor are not treated as children unless they are toddlers. While the older poor children are "entering the labor force, often before it is legal, and learning what it means to work hard for low wages, their counterparts in the middle and upper classes shun manual labor of all kinds, and, unlike their European and North American counterparts, never work at minimum-wage or low-wage jobs, not even as apprentices".

9.14. "Children are increasingly important in Brazilian discourse about urban violence because they are often recruited to do the dirty work of organized urban favela gangs dealing in drugs; children are often drafted for other illicit activities, since it is well known they they get off with lesser or restricted sentences"


10.1. Why do so man young men in Rio's shantytowns die violent deaths? "Understanding violence within a specific populations requires theorizing violence and learning about the actors who count i the neighborhoods where this particular kind of violence takes place".

10.2. Contemporary Rio is "a city of extremes that provides abundant visual clues of class and racial antagonism".

10.3. "The middle and upper -class preoccupation with crime is apparent in the never-ending talk of crime which feeds a circle in which fear is both dealt with and reproduced and in which violence is both counteracted and magnified.

10.4. According to Caldeira writes about crime as "both a disorganizing experience and an organizing symbol".

10.5. The talk of crime creates "among the middle and upper classes both the stereotypes and the prejudices that associate residents of favelas with crime and with these classes growing sense that their own public space is shrinking".

10.6. The lead gang banger, Vidigal, did not appear, nor did his surroundings, as if he was making a lot of money.

10.7. Gangs have a seductive quality that goes beyond their involvement in the drug trade. For youth they offer a place of belonging and a sense of identity that low-paying (and sometimes humiliating) service sector employment does not provide.

10.8. The gang presence was also a nuisance for some young men because it meant they had to watch carefully to stay out of the business of the gang.

10.9. Gangs offer a space within which an ethos of masculinity can be enacted.

10.10. Favelas and other peripheral neighborhoods are seen as high crime areas and perceived to be controlled by drug traffickers. The government attempts to capture drug traffickers and return these neighborhoods to the state. From the perspective of the residents, return to state control is anymore attractive than being under control of the gangs.

10.11. Drug chiefs in favelas provide needed services such as housing and cash in times of emergency as well as a form of employment for youths.

10.12. Residents of favelas understood that their own peace was correlated with that of the local gang, because when the gang did not pay enough corruption money, the police would come around looking for trouble.

10.13. Police -bandits are referred to the possibility that both of these entities, police-bandits and band, and police, inevitably played by the rules of revenge of residents of the dysfunctional justice system.

10.14. Revenge is a "stand-in for a legal system that is absent or dysfunctional. Because of the absence or corruption of the state, the gangs play a major role in providing a form of justice that many residents not necessarily involved in illegal activities themselves are willing to see administered"

10.15. Intimate relationships exist between the police, bandits, and local small scale drug traffickers in Felicidade Eterna.

10.16. Although a form of organized crime, Rio's gang "lack the centralization and organizations-and therefore the connection with the state- that other historical forms, such as the Sicilian Mafia, maintained. The difference stems fro a number of factors, including the fact that each local gang (quadrilha) has to maintain its own local base of protection and is not guaranteed protection by the larger, richer traffickers.

10.17. "In the local vernacular, the term police bandit captures the sense of the breakdown of the rule of law in the poortest neighborhoods, making clear the corrupt nature of the police and lending credence to the contention that the system must have the blessings of the state if the interpenetration between police and bandits is in practice so extensive.

10.18. Sexual Abuse: gang members will step in (stepdaughters). Rapist of children rightly have to die. In some cases, the community supports this type of behavior from the gangs. Other examples: adultery case and abandoned wife.

10.19. Two identified continuing paradoxes in Brazil's political democracy; first, that the state tolerates a corrupt and extraordinarily violent military and civil police bureaucracy; and second, that the high levels of police violence have not been adequately protested at least in part because of popular support for policies that appear to be tough on crime, an stance tht is especially common within the working classes.

10.20. The population's support for police violence indicates the existence not only of an institutional dysfunction but also of a pervasive cultural pattern that associates order and authority with the use of violence and that, in turn, contributes to the delegitimization of the justice system and the rule of law.

10.21. In the brown zones of Rio, "the local gangs provide a parallel state structure and alternative rule of law.

10.22. Strict religious orders are having their greatest success precisely the in the brown zones. For those residents who suffer the injustices are usually considered private problems -physical or sexual abuse against women and children-their only recourse, other than such religious control of the body, is the gangs who control the body through acts of vengeance or the police whose operative vision is one that views all residents of favelas as criminals.

10.23. Religious belongings has becoe not only an indicator of faith but also a protective symbol of neutrality and nonparticipation in the escalating violence occurring among police, bandits, and police-bandits.


11.1. The Carnivalization of Desire

11.2. "In my aaaass, noooo, idiot!"

11.3. The Author's position: the "carnivalization of desire is largely, although not entirely, a masculinist vision of desire and transgression".

11.4. Sex-Positiveness: for men is a paradise.

11.5. Do not be ethnocentric. Try to see through the lens of Rio de Janeiro culture.

11.6. Cariocas possess a sex-positive , open, permissive approach to sexuality.

11.7. The exploration of humor in the form of sexual teasing or sexual joking goes in a different direction than the standard story of sexual permissiveness and sex-positiveness.

11.8. Brazil has promoted an eroticized paradise and according to the author, the depiction is correct.

11.9. There is liberalization that is evident in the body language, dress, flirtation, and exuberance dance that is different from North Americans or Western Europeans.

11.10. According to the Author, Carioca culture is recognizable by its tight hugging clothing that accentuate the body, particularly the buttocks.

11.11. The anthropoligical literature on male homoeroticism seems to have completely marginalized works such as Muraro's.

11.12. Why the anthropological literature on male homoeroticism was marginalized: First, the divisions within Brazilian feminism served to taint any feminism that addressed issues of sexuality in ways that echoed North American versions at that time. Second, scholarly works produced during the same period, which were notably not necessarily considered controversial at the time, were devoted to exploring the more permissive and carnivalesque aspects of Brazilian sex-gender relations.

11.13. "The inability to speak critically abut sexuality leaves poorer, darker-skinned Afro-Brazilian women in the position of second class sexual citizens, unable to fully critique some of their own local culture's particular approach to sexuality".

11.14. Local Sexual Culture: Eating metaphors not only point to the nature of gendered sexual power relations where men are eaters and women are to be eaten but also to the intimate ways in which economic and sexual aspects of normative gender relations are intertwined.

11.15. From Boys to Men: Class specific regimes of sexuality exists. Among working class Cariocas, it is believed going without sex for a long period will drive you crazy. The ritual from boy to man encourages boys to be active seducers.

11.16. The cultural value placed on having children and motherhood as well as the possibility of starting their own lives,attracts young girls to early childbearing.

11.17. Views on virginity marked a generational difference between women and young girls. "The Ideal of virginity was waning and yet they feared being labeled a variant of "bad women" possibly risking being barred from steady relationships with responsible men.

11.18. Sacanagem: linking "notions of aggression and hostility, play and amusement, sexual excitement and erotic practice in a single symbolic complex." It is described as an act that "gives pleasure as well as one that hurts or humiliates another.

11.18.1. Women usually take the lead here but men do transgress.

11.19. Partial Truths: "Without the institutional and judicial mechanisms available to the middle and upper classes poor women are left as the guardians against a socially constructed transgressive male sexuality."

11.20. This highly sexualized culture creates a hot bed for child abuse. This is seen especially among the poor.

11.21. The one who raises you does not eat you, but to the man in the street, youth are prey. However, girls who end up on the street are considered loose and possibly asking for it.

11.21.1. This is how men are.


12.1. "Puxa, you are hard to kill, ehh?" "Why? he asked." "Because I put rat poison in your drink this morning, and you didn't die"

12.2. Gloria's niece and daughter were raped by intruders (14 and 15). One was a virgin and "went crazy. After the rape the virgin was told to take a bath.

12.3. Gloria left a working class neighborhood and moved into a favela resulting from this intrusion.

12.4. Author failed to see the humor in the rape but soon came to realize that it was "laughter in place".

12.5. Rape story was told humorously to depict the expectations of men in the lives of women. Protection.

12.6. The joke was about how much Claudia, the person who was not a virgin, screamed faking pain because she did not want Gloria to know that she was not a virgin and Ignacio sneezing while nervous and talking too much.

12.7. During one of the neighborhood gossip sessions, the story was told. Again. Gloria and Anita disagreed on the appropriate time for a girl to engage in a sexual relationship. Their perspectives regarding the rape was used as open and critical commentary.

12.8. Gloria's story of the rape was an opportunity to condemn teenage pregnancy and voice expectations and frustrations with the role of men.

12.9. Because of police distrust, rape would not be reported.

12.10. The author suggests that the "legal system is still, even today, hindered from hearing the perspectives of impoverished women due to a combination of anachronistic legal codes regarding class (and therefore race_, gender, and sexuality".

12.11. Throughout the book, "taste" is not a neutral concept. "The sustained absurdist discourse that produces laughter over the failed death of an abusive husband or that takes a rape as its point of departure, suggests that certain forms of black human may originate within the dominated or the popular classes because it is their only recourse in a universe of limited options".

12.12. The perceived bad taste humor, by the end of the book has become "a comprehensible response to a moral and legal system that is currently incapable of addressing the grievances of women in the dominated classes.

12.13. Women are "continually striving to mediate their perspectives on sexuality in a society that is incredibly sex-positive but that does very little to protect the bodies of women-even young women-from transgressive male behavior".