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Afro-ParadiseBlackness, Violence, and Performance in Brazil$
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Christen A. Smith

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780252039935

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252039935.001.0001

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(p.1) Introduction

Christen A. Smith

University of Illinois Press

This introductory chapter provides an overview of the book's main arguments. Focusing on the city of Salvador, this book uses performance as a methodological frame for deconstructing gendered antiblack violence. Following the work of performance theorist D. Soyini Madison (2010), it employs performance analytics as a method of social analysis in order to travel back and forth between onstage and offstage. It makes five claims: (1) that the maintenance of racial democracy as a national ideology in Brazil (exemplified by the myth of Bahia's Afro-paradise) depends on the spectacular and mundane repetition of state violence against the black body; (2) that these repetitions of violence are entangled in time and space, implicating the past, the present, and the future; (3) that state violence against the black body is not only a performance but also palimpsestic—embodied, disciplining, and marked by erasure, reinscription, and repetition; (4) that the trauma of the black experience with state violence is a kind of gendered terror that not only harms the bodies of the immediate victims but also inflicts pain on the families and communities of the victims, defining the political stakes of these moments and, in part, blackness itself; and, finally, (5) that the close relationship between Afro-paradise and performance has also led the black community to turn to performance in order to demystify and undo its violence.

Keywords:   Bahia, race, racial violence, racial politics, black culture, Afro-paradise, black bodies, antiblack violence, performance analytics, racial democracy

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