Laughter Out of Place

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


1.1. Goldstein becomes embroiled in the local life of Rio de Janeiro's favelas, or shantytowns; charts complex intersections among the hierarchies of race, class, gender, and sexuality at work within poverty-stricken communities

1.1.1. shantytowns "it is hard, even for the researcher, not to feel trapped within this particular reality" strangely diffuse and seemingly well beyond local influences embedded in unpredictable structures of power forced to express resistance behind the backs of those with power

1.1.2. laughter humor is a kind of "running commentary" about the political and economic structures within which the people of the favelas made their lives an indirect dialogue, sometimes critical, although often ambivalent humors masks a certain loss of innocence, yet reveals ambiguity, paradox, contradiction, and inconsistency a weapon of the weak; "a sly assertion of dignity"

1.1.3. women far removed from the economic transformations taking place in Brazil weapons of resistance are their fierce wits and sharp tongues; they are wholly devoted to surviving despite finding themselves at the bottom of a number of hierarchies laugh in the face of suffering in an effort the resist the "small arms fire in the class war"


2.1. Inspired to resume fieldwork among the poorest working women in Brazil, Goldstein returns to Felicidade Eterna in May 1995 after having been away for three years and is filled in on key events that have transpired

2.1.1. Gloria Afro-Brazilian woman with charge of thirteen children employed in the low wage domestic labor market; she cooks, cleans, and cares for predominantly white, upper/middle class families despite the many tragedies that marked her struggle in this world, she still retains the capacity to laugh

2.1.2. Felicidade Eterna a small community, fewer than a hundred houses--unpaved streets; a number of churches; only two or three families own cars; rat-and-debris-infested alleyways network of residents span the economic spectrum of poorest to wealthiest every household in possession of some kind of radio or television

2.1.3. Carnival mixture of individuals from various social classes visible contrast of poverty and affluence forms the core of essential "Brazilianness" considered a time of laughter and forgetting ultimately serves as conservative ritual that reinforces class positions and gender and sexual hierchies paints an undeniably romantic, if not entirely truthful, portrait of Brazil

2.1.4. Brazilian History in a triangular trade route, African slaves were brought to Brazil, Brazilian sugar was sent to Europe, and European products made their way to Africa sugar and its export were emblematic of social life as with sugar production, gold and diamond mines were largely dependent on slave labor slavery abolished in 1888 currently living a form of social apartheid


3.1. During a return visit to Rio de Janeiro, Goldstein receives a firsthand look at class, culture, and the lives of domestic workers

3.1.1. Running Away From Home Dona Beth, a woman for whom Gloria works, is disturbed by a letter she received from her daughter attending university abroad Gloria and Soneca find the letter amusing because Gloria wishes to be independent from her own daughters; Gloria cannot escape the endless responsibility of supporting so many children, though she can put distance between herself and her children by "running away from home" to live with her then lover unlike Dona Beth, who yearns to keep her daughter close to her for as long as humanly possible, Gloria yearns to witness her children becoming independent and secure working-class jobs

3.1.2. Earning a Wage Dona Beth pays Gloria a higher salary, putting Gloria in a much stronger financial situation before Dona Beth's offer, Gloria traveled each day of the week to a different employer's home and did heavy-duty cleaning and a fair amount of cooking in an arrangement known as faxineira (heavy-duty day cleaner transportation time and costs ate into her earnings each day provided Gloria with just enough money to shop in small amounts and to provide for her household directly from that day's work earned approximately five dollars a day, barely enough to sustain all the children who depended on her servants stand as a second difference between typical middle-class and working-class families

3.1.3. Colonial Rio de Janeiro domestic worker is symbolically associated with the dirty work to be done in a household relationships of servitude stem from Brazil's lengthy period of slavery separation of classes

3.1.4. Nilda sore spot for Gloria Gloria perceived Nilda as too much like herself and found it difficult to perform as an empregada for somebody of Nilda's station and background Nilda married out of her lower-class background, a privilege that a person of her--and by extension Gloria's--standing can usually never hope to accomplish having accomplished the almost impossible dream of marrying well, Nilda garners Gloria's scorn and is perceived as a fraud rather than a friend or ally


4.1. Links between color and class are painstakingly clear in Brazil

4.1.1. Race and Class in Brazil, people are uncomfortable speaking about race and racism Brazil never had a civil rights movement blackness continues to be associated with slavery complicated color terms those who are lighter-skinned are believed to have better chances at succeeding in life

4.1.2. Coroas many women of the favelas believed their best opportunity to get ahead was to seduce older men referred to as coroas recognized as a legitimate, albeit rare, form of of social mobility coroa parable similar to black Cinderella story coroa's whiteness, wealth, and class can make him attractive in spite of his age

4.1.3. Brazilian Sexuality understandings about race and color are linked with representations about sexual history colonies painted as places that embody the primitive celebrated the representation of the sexualized mulata eroticized racism

4.1.4. Hierarchies of Beauty black characteristics considered ugly whiteness held at high value


5.1. Goldstein recounts her experience with Gloria's now deceased son, Pedro Paulo, during his sentence at Ilha Grande Prison and examines the dangers children face on the streets

5.1.1. Pedro Paulo Gloria's firstborn serving a fifteen-year sentence for the armed robbery of two apartments in Rio young man of about thirty, tall and muscular, and the most articulate of Gloria's brood upon his release from prison, Pedro Paulo returned to gang life killed in a shoot-out with police in Rocinha

5.1.2. The Killing Streets about 200,000 Brazilian children live on their country's streets the living conditions and extreme vulnerability to physical assault faced by street children make Brazilians feel uncomfortable about the way their society is represented by the international press

5.1.3. Street Children street children are often recruited to do the dirty work of organized urban favela gangs play a vital role in the household economy of their impoverished parents drafted for illicit activities street life considered a betrayal of the matrifocal household

5.1.4. Honest Work Gloria encourages children to do "honest" work--the grueling minimum-wage work of the poorest so that they don't get involved in gang activity Gloria's world is divided into bandits and honest workers ultimate goal is to discipline her children into becoming honest workers "being cruel in order to be kind"


6.1. state terror, gangs, and everyday violence in Rio de Janeiro is examined

6.1.1. Crime and Violence Rio is one of the most unequal cities in the world violence is both counteracted and magnified middle and upper classes have relatively little exposure to the kind of violence experienced by the poorest large favelas have a reputation for harboring petty thieves and participants in the drug trade Felicidade Eterna experienced cycles of calm and violence

6.1.2. Local Gang Dilmar was gang leader during the early 1990s gangs mediated relations with the local police prevented other gangs from invading gangs offer a place of belonging and a sense of identity absence of the rule of law power struggles prevalent Dilmar eventually murdered by members of his own gang Rio's gang culture is a form of organized crime local gangs provide a parallel or alternative rule of law that deals with "private matters"

6.1.3. Social Control social relations marked by exaggerated inequality stark contrasts between wealthy and poor regions of the city different neighborhoods exposed to different risks and levels of violence structure of inequality extends to police forces poor are criminalized and bear the burden of corrupt dealings with the police


7.1. sexuality in the context of local culture and the carnivalization of desire are examined

7.1.1. Machismo present in places like Felicidade Eterna naturalized and normalized both men and women participate sexual joking and teasing act as a kind of verbal confirmation of the centrality of sexuality to social life devoted to particular form of normative heterosexuality open, permissive approach to sexuality going too long without sex is believed to cause men to go insane boys encouraged and expected to become active seducers

7.1.2. Public Flirtation elaborate game not scrutinized as objectification of women's bodies being ignored is considered a fate worse than death for certain women Brazilian women enjoy being looked at, complimented, and considered sexually desirable

7.1.3. Local Sexual Culture metaphors about food and eating used to express ideas about sexuality women in Felicidade Eterna subvert the social order that idealizes men as eaters and women as those being eaten metaphors are turned upside down through humor men, according to women, are likely to fool around no matter who their stable partner is male infidelity is disliked but perceived as part of the normal repertoire of male behavior women work hard to subvert male privilege and double standards Gloria's maxim: "I never let my children experience hunger. Whenever I had problems, I would get a boyfriend."


8.1. rape is recounted and "laughter out of place" becomes laughter "in place"

8.1.1. Evening of Terror Gloria and her family were assaulted in their home in Duque de Caxias two men came in through the window and singled out Anita and Claudia, who at the time were only fourteen and fifteen years of age, and proceeded to rape them the telling of the robbery and rape story provided a way for sexuality, violence, and female victimization to be dealt with through humor used the rape as a vehicle for airing their conflicts

8.1.2. Different Versions Anita was more afraid of her mother than the rapists she used the story to explain the extent of her suffering under Gloria's strict command terror of the rape paled against Gloria's threats Gloria's retelling of the rape and robbery story in front of her friends and family provided the opportunity to criticize teenage pregnancy and express her own frustrations regarding a man's obligation to provide financial support to his family

8.1.3. Black Humor certain forms originate within the dominated or the "popular" classes because it is the only recourse in a universe of limited options humor can only be understood in its place, and place is always circumscribed by class, gender, race, and sexuality beyond the range of social systems there is only laughter response to a moral and legal system that is currently incapable of addressing the grievances of women in the dominated classes