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Queering Moral Panic: State Violence and Black Masculinity in Bahia, Brazil1

Osmundo Pinho2 (Translation: Phillip Villani) Abstract: On the initiative of Mrs. Luiza Maia (Worker's Party) with the support of several local personalities (including the Governor Jacques Wagner), and feminists and researchers in the field of gender relations, the Legislative Assembly of the State of Bahia has discussed a new law, no. 19.137/2011, that aims to block funding or public venues for those who demean the image of women and encourage violence against them. On the surface this code seems well meaning, but, as I will analyze here, this legal effort is part of a backlash by the Brazilian state to deploy moral panic in order to reduce public space for and intensify state violence against Afro-Brazilian population. This paper will explore this campaign against "misogynist Afro-Brazilian culture" in the context of the rise of state violence and para-statal militia violence in black neighborhoods, as revealed by the "2011 Violence Map." Publication of the map of 2011 brought new and depressing data on violence in Brazil, a society that likes to think about herself as friendly, cheerful and sensual, making this a lie sweetened murderous ideology. As stated in the introduction to the Map, and as we all know too well, violence is endemic in Brazil, not the result of cyclical adventitious circumstances, but operating continuously as the "necessary" and essential frame of the Brazilian public sphere itself. The other side of the essential racialization of state violence, is the racialization of rapid economic development in northeastern Brazil. "Black Culture" -- promoted through global tourism projects, youth cultural NGOs, and heritage preservation mechanisms -- has long been Salvador da Bahia's tool for escaping from both the crisis of economic underdevelopment, and for "rescuing" and cultivating citizenship among its black youth. But how this cultural development model has been rescripted to orbit around another moral panic around black masculinity, which displaces questions of the state's accelerating crisis of militarized security, and the moral crisis of race and inclusion within the Brazilian society? KEY WORDS: Race, masculinity, moral panic, state violence, feminism, samba.

The first part of this text was previously published on the internet as Pinho (2011). This publication was based in a presentation made at the round table Body and Politics at the series of debates about the body staged in relation to the exhibition Global African Hair, which occurred in Salvador in the Caixa Econmica Federal Cultural Centre on the 8th of November, 2011. I would like to thank ngela Figueiredo, curator of the show and chair of the round table, as well as Iara Belleli, with whom I shared the discussion, for the diverse criticisms and suggestions. I would also like to thank Paul Amar and Ephen Glenn Colter for the suggestions that helped to shape the present text. 2 Anthropologist. Doctor of Social Sciences (UNICAMP). Professor of the Federal University of Recncavo, Bahia, Cachoeira campus and of the PostGraduate program in Social Sciences at the same university. Researcher with the CNPq.

Crisis of Masculinity/Crisis of society Due to the low level of critical light cast on the question, the illusion can emerge that the social forms which produce and regulate performances of masculine identity remain in the blind spot of the auto-reproduction of societys symbolic forms. However, we need to recognize the intense social and political investment in the creation of masculine subject positions and identities, in the field of the auto-fabrication of social life itself, with all of its contradictions and ambiguities. It is not only that masculinity itself, as experienced in the lived world, in the public sphere, and in the transformations of intimacy, appears to be socially regulated, but that society gains body and density in the masculine gesture repeated as difference, or through the innumerable other differences, productive of the emergence of performative representations of gender. The crisis of the masculine, as we can ultimately qualify it, is a crisis of society itself and its contradictions, carried out or staged through the production of the fields of social differentiation. Such manifestations are not mere insubstantial repetitions of the symbolic or discursive, as if the significant dimension of social life could have been easily detached from the material dimension, when all these oppositions: subjectivity & society; symbolic & material; content & representation; are already the ideological effect of an arbitrary separation, which gains in intelligibility over time and coming to constitute the historical arena itself. In the case of Brazil, racism, as an original historical fact and structural figure, is the phantasm in the machine (Butler, 2003; Baudrillard, 1972). In the New World in general, and dramatically in Brazils case in particular, kinship and gender relations amongst enslaved Africans and their descendants, has been the object, over an extended period of time, of policing, admonition, pathologization, and even criminalization in parts of Brazil. In historical terms, such control refers us to cases of sexual interdiction, to Jim Crow, to the criminalization of the black man, the ideological concealment of the black family, and the idea of the purity of blood. This process occurs in a manner similar to that of bisexuality, or the so called down low, which produced moral panic and social unrest (Cohen, 2001; 1999; Vainfas, 1997; Stolke, 2006; Cohen, 1999; Malebranche, 2006). In a similar way, the violence and stigma of barbarism and savagery joins itself to the symbolic space of the representation of black masculine identity. As has already been discussed, everything unfolds as if the repudiated fantasy (the foreclosed) of desire, the desire for violence and death that haunts the dominant white imaginary, would be encountered in the black body, in the skin and muscles of the black man as a point of manifestation, like a malign magic which channels fantasies so as to possess the body of the Other (Mbembe, 2001; Derrida, 1994; Amparo-Alves, 2009). In the shadowy theatre of racial identities staged within the force of colonial power, the body, desire, sex, and violence are the principal protagonists (Quijano, 2007; Maldonado-Torres, 2007).

Working from a specific, empirical context, and seeking to map and explore the concretion of the historico-structural conditions that outline the space of (im)possibility for the black masculine body, we will discuss in this essay, the proposal and approbation of the so called Anti-Baixaria Law of the State of Bahia, which prohibits, under the guise of a symbolic defense of negritude, the contracting by the State, of bands of the musical genre locally known by the name of pagode, or pagodo, and as such purportedly dealing with music offensive to the dignity of women. We will undertake this analysis against the background of the genocide of the young black population in Brazil and in Bahia specifically, understood as a structuring factor of the racialized public sphere, and as an essential step in the repudiation of the black man as a native (Hanchard, 1996). The use of the term genocide is not rhetorical, as the numbers will soon make clear. More than numerical evidence however, the nature and modality of the violence produced or permitted by the State arrives to the level of a genuine genocide, politically determined and ideologically conditioned: The moral, theoretical, and practical imperatives which genocide presents should hard be ignored. Why are we so resistant, incapable, unwilling, to confront the systematic and enduring disproportionate death of Black people? The fact that these imperatives are routinely ignored reveals the hegemonic spell over our cognitive and political tolls (Vargas, 2010: xx). As we hope to show in the following, the connection between moral panic of a sexual nature, and gender, and the disproportional everyday lethal violence perpetrated against young black men on the periphery, is not arbitrary, but has been determined by history, and by a history of racialized representations, and by a politics of subjectivity in the Brazilian context involving race and gender. The removal of the cognitive and intellectual barriers to the apprehension of this connection is a political task of decolonization, that needs to find a correspondence in the emancipatory practices and critical engagements of social subjects, which I will propose and which we will consider from a queer perspective that is to say, non-substantialist, critical perspective, informed by sexual and gender ambiguities (Cohen, 2001).

2nd of July parade, Salvador, 2011. Photo of the author.

Anti-Baixaria As an initiative of the deputy of Bahia, Luiza Maia (The Worker's Party), and with the support of diverse local protagonists (including the governor Jaques Wagner, also of the Worker's Party), and feminists and researchers from the field of gender relations, The Legislative Assembly of the State of Bahia approved on the 27th of March, 2012 what was named the Lei Anti-Baixaria3. The projected Law, number 19.137/2011 aims to impede public funding of artists whose work demeans the image of women and incites violence against them. As has been well argued by Cecilia Sardenberg (2011), such a project is located in the historical narrative of the fight against the social devaluation of women and the fight for the development of their rights. As Professor Sardenberg argues, the new law would merely regulate Art. 282 of the State Constitution, that affirms that the State of Bahia will guarantee, before society, the social image of women as mothers, workers, and citizens in conditions of equality with men, aiming to amongst other issues impede the circulation of messages which violate the dignity of women, that re-enforce sexual or racial discrimination (Sardenberg, 2011). However, in practical terms, the new law would also impede the various bands of the so named pagode baiano, or pagodo, who occupy a significant part of the market represented by the various popular festivals of Bahia (carnaval/micaretas/So Joo), and who are usually underwritten by public powers. There is of course no doubt that the State is obliged to scrupulously respect human rights and the dignity of all, especially those subjects such as women, who historically speaking have been discriminated against, and submitted to specific violence and repression. Further there is no doubt that I personally feel myself profoundly obligated by the issue of feminine emancipation, and feminist criticism. We must observe with care however, the constellation of discourses and representations, full of historicity and contradiction, that come to position themselves within this debate and invade the streets of the Salvador. Loyal to the tradition of critical anthropology, I will aim to assume the point of view of the natives in question, that is, the young pagodeiros. In this manner, I identify myself with the socially embedded perspective of these subjects, arguably stripped of agency by the discourses and practices of class and race, the machines responsible for the production of social identity and subjectivity in the troubled Salvador of today. Observing that which is contentious in the Lei Anti-Baixaria will permit us to critically reflect on the questions of emancipation, representation, and the politics of identity embodied in the horizon of the modernity of the periphery. Here I would simply like to point out some key elements in the construction of the perspectives positioned within this debate, putting up for consideration the same contradictions and questions that political struggles around issues of body, gender, and race raise, as a politics of identity in societies of post-colonial class. In this way we will not be considering the transcendental objectives of the proposed law, but its effects and enrootedness in our particular case, from the perspective of a young, disadvantaged, black youth.

The result was 43 votes in favor and 9 against, in a surprising feminist, politically correct about face for the usually conservative Assembly (G1 BA, 2012).

We will assume therefore, from another point of view not a substantive perspective, but a procedural one, such as was developed by S. Corra who highlighted the procedural background involved in the establishment of rights. To adequately qualify the process then, we will have to take into account the practico-political and conceptual dilemmas connected with the procedure of the legitimation of rights; in the words of Corra, the construction of these rights does not happen in a vacum (2006: 10). These tensions and contradictions materialize themselves in historically specific forms and do not represent moral choices and a-temporal ethics. We can in this way approach a scenario in which universal values will be considered under the light of ultimately self-contradictory practical circumstances. The Case of Moral Panic in Relation to Samba We cannot overlook the historical significance of the unease felt in Salvador in relation to samba, as a case reflecting a racialized urban experience, manifested in history and its structures of anticipation, or in the historical soil of tradition (Soares, 1994; Habermas, 1987). At the level of concrete history, the street, imagined as dangerous, anonymous, liminal, or marginal, seems to have been reinvented in terms of its social significance, at least in some of the principal Brazilian urban centers, by Africans and their descendants, as a network of focal points for articulating space, work, identity, and resistance. Such a force drove the well documented and persistent moral panic that underpinned the diverse campaigns of de-africanization in the city of Bahia (Salvador) which appears in these excerpts from the newspapers from the beginning of the 20th century cited by the medico/ethnologist Nina Rodrigues,: for a long time already, we have requested from the police, measures against these events () as they continue, approaching the time of the parties of Carnaval (in 1902), once again we voice our protest against this contravention of our values (Rodrigues, 1977(1993): 158). Between 1905 and 1914, as is documented, a diverse range of municipal initiatives prohibited Africanized clubs and black drumming, colossal candombl (Vieria Fo., 1995). Decades later, in the 60's and 70's of the 20th century, we rediscover the same attitude, directed against blocos-de-ndio carnival group which occurred in a conflict on the carnival stage, and reenacting the tensions of the class struggle itself. The history of these blocos-de-ndio carnival group contingents is relatively well documented. Principally constituted by the poor of the city of African descent they soon gained a reputation for violence. In 1977, the Apaches of the Toror, largely constituted by 5,000 youths of the periphery, was brutally dispersed by police under allegations that a number of its members had threatened some young members of another carnival contingent, Here they Come, made up of the sisters, wives, and fiances of the military police. This event was the trigger for an intense campaign of repression launched against the blocos-de-ndio contingents, culminating in their virtual extinction (Rodrigues, 1996). The press in this instance once again fulfilled its role: like a horde of bloodthirsty and furious Indians, the Apaches of the Toror, arrived to violently mark their participation in the carnaval of Bahia, creating a significant headache for the police authorities, and upsetting carnaval goers and members of the other blocos and cordes. Their victims this year were principally women (A Tarde, 23/02/77 cited in Godi, 1991: 64).

As we can see, in considering issues related to samba, carnival, and the black presence in streets of Salvador, we are dealing with a question of civilization and the reordering/regulation of its subjects and social practices, in the name of science, progress, truth, and justice. Regulation of Gender and Colonial Reason In Gender Regulations, Judith Butler, states: gender requires and institutes its own distinctive regulatory and disciplinary regime (Butler 2004: 41), because the norms that govern those regulations exceed the very instances in which they are embodied (p. 40). In such a manner, the movement from abstract principle to norm realizes itself in the regulation of particular historical subjects. Regulation, states the author, does not simply constitute these subjects, but the possibility of their localization or positioning in a determined order, interiorized as the very production of the place of the subject. The consideration of these observations in this debate seems to echo curiously those which we find in relation to Mozambique in respect to the Law of Family and feminism in Africa generally (Andrade, 1992; Amadiune, 1998; Arnfred, 2001). From the point of view of the post-colonial critic, we observe in the case of Mozambique, a reaction against the neo-colonial application of universal feminism, configured in the locus of imperialism/neo-colonialism which, as Spivak showed, depends on the repudiated figure of the native informant. Such a locus, emerging from a new globalized political economy of global financing, articulates itself as an un-reconstructed universal feminism (Spivak, 2010: 224). In another context, Paul Amar argues for a discussion of the transformations in the agenda of the post-colonial state, in which the regulation of gender and processes of subjetivization are considered: Projects for gendered public morality, sexual regulation, family constitution, and suppression of trafficking in bodies have become central axes of governance, executed through an uncountable jumble of non-governmental organizations, government projects, municipal police, planning and public health initiatives, and international human rights and humanitarian organizations (Amar, 2011). The Barbarism of the Masses and the Ethnography of Pagode It is difficult not to be bitterly surprised by the irony when contemplating the irreducible distance between popular experience, represented by pagode, and the well intentioned middle class subjectivities, who once again arrive, in fear of the barbarism of samba, and in this manner set in motion a drama of alienation in the experience of race and class operating under an seemingly colonial model. With a foundation in an ethnographic sensibility and a consideration of processes of subjective identification, we recognize in samba, pagode, and funk, autonomous discourses of representation of popular, racialized experiences of life in the poorer neighbourhoods, peripheries and ghettos. Sex and the body are always central aspects of these vernacular politics of representation, and also, as is well recognized, the reaction to these intended immoralities, as documented by Jos Ramos Tinhoro (1988).

Pagode its prohibited to be inhibited, Salvador, 1995. Photo of the author.

I can recall my own field experience of pagode of the Its Prohibited to Be Inhibited event, where the overwhelming majority of the involved activities seemed in some way connected with seduction and sexuality (Pinho, 1998). The pagode that we heard there was obsessive in its references to sex and the manner in which people danced also simulated sexual acts or practices of mutual erotic satisfaction. Women, even with unknown partners, frequently made no opposition to significant physical contact which was a part of the choreography appropriate to the music. Men heterosexuals danced among themselves and showed no qualms when intertwining themselves, dancing and moving with an enthusiasm which bordered on the explicitly sexual. The lyrics, almost always humorous, generally made some type of sexual commentary, and related anecdotes of day to day life of the poor people of Salvador, making allusions to specific neighborhoods and streets. The musicians seemed to have a social profile equal to that of their listeners and incited the active participation of their public. In this micro-context, it was observed, as is the case in many other such contexts, resonances of a macro political and social nature, which metamorphosed themselves through the body as a racialized immorality (Mclintock, 2010). At this point, the question will obviously be: how can an alterity of class and race, played out at a macro level of conflict over the representation and regulation of the sexed body of racialized men and women, manifest itself in the form of particular expressive structures.

Frame from the video homemade. 2012.4

Posted on the internet by a group of boys who execute pagode dance steps.







The huge developmental gap underpinning Brazilian society, most forcibly in Salvador in its currently degraded state, is measured by the irreducible subjective modes which exist between classes and social groups. The voice which is authorized to speak the differences of class, aims to sequester and delegitimize discursive possibilities that do not assimilate themselves to the universal register characterizing occidental consciousness; therefore, in this sense, can the subaltern speak? Everyone Hates Pagode The incommunicability of sense and experience is such that, a researcher was recently able to say that pagode is a discredited social product, (maybe for this researcher, but not for the youth of the periphery) produced and consumed by the popular classes (with whom the researcher did not identify and from which they needed to distinguish themself), and that the subjects of representation are pagodeiros (youths from the poorer class) who circulate representations shot through with prejudice, race and class contamination, generational questions and a considerable measure gender construction, in this way becoming a medium for the permeation and reiteration of discursive processes aiding in the perpetuation of stereotypes and gender asymmetries (Nascimento, 2008)5. Pursuing this line of argumentation, everyone is rallied against pagodo, as a music promoting the violation of the dignity of women, and, this being the case, no money will be spent supporting this degenerate music produced by natives.

Frame from the video Homemade. 2012.

There is obviously involved here the question of the market which we will not deal with, but which reveals itself as significant, when we perceive that the connection between this music and the young people of the poorer classes makes this the new music of the masses in Salvador, occupying music venues, and being played on the radio. The dense and sensitive work of Sirleide Aparecida de Oliveira shows us the contradictions between the managers of the bands and the young, black, hyper-exploited artists (2001). In the manner in which Sirleide describes them, pagode bands are enterprises with bosses, where the artists are workers meeting a demand, and where real control over the product of their work is absent, naturally resulting in a tension. Given that the majority of pagode artists are very poor boys, they have no way to make the necessary investments in the band and when they have employment are they are unable to continue dedicating themselves to the music. In this manner they remain dependent on their bosses for money to maintain their careers. Oliveira retells truly moving stories of boys genuinely in love with music, but without the

The same researcher said in interview that the very fact of academic interest in the pagode has attracted stigmatization in the university environment: Clebemilton Nascimento was never a pagodeiro, but also said that he has been discriminated against since deciding to study the genre. Strange looks were received from many of his peers in the university. (Mendona, 2011)

chance or possibility of managing their own production, alienating their talent in prejudicial contracts with local impresarios.

Frame from the video Homemade. 2012.

I have heard indignation many times, both from musicians or people close to the music industry in Salvador who are not pagodeiros, at the market space occupied by pagoda both in the media and live, to the detriment of other musical genres of a supposedly higher quality. The very success of pagode is viewed both as an indicator of cultural regression in Salvador and of the barbarism of the masses, when in fact, from the point of view which I am assuming, regression is really manifested by the developmental differences within Brazilian society already referred to above. A Map of Violence The most appalling expression of this disparity takes place in terms of the violence and struggle for life. As is already well known young men are amongst the principal actors in the drama of urban violence6. Julio Waiselfisz has produced, since 1998, the Map of Violence, a compilation and critical analysis of official statistical data about violence in Brazil, principally violence involving homicide. As has been saliently noted in the introduction to the Map, violence is endemic in Brazil, not representing merely the outcome of a conjuncture of adventitious circumstances, but rather constituting and limiting the Brazilian public sphere itself, and the objective contours of social structures, at least, as innumerable songs from the Brazilian Hip-Hop movement roundly proclaim for the majority of youth of the poorest classes or of a darker skin tone. (Rosa, 2006; Silva, 2011). Additional arguments state that the subjectivity of young, black men seems constructed within the emergence a structure of feeling (Williams, 1979) over-determined by violence. The violence prevalent in poor neighborhoods, whether motivated by personal confrontation, by disputes between groups of armed youths, or by the actions of agents of the State (the diverse Brazilian police forces), is the stuff of the everyday, and the killing of neighbors, family members and friends, forms a social and affective environment which consolidates the subjectivities of the youth of African descent. The violence of the police on the beat, the skull carioca and their malign slogan, loudly declaimed in the favelas (Ive come in search of your soul); the regular

Here we need to take into account what Joo H. Costa Vargas suggests about the complicity of the black population in the genocide in the Afrodescendent communities. Such complicity is motivated and sustained by a series of motives and contradictions, connected to class, gender, and sexual differences in the black communities themselves, and essentially that which following Audre Lorde, Vargas calls the oppressor within. It is fairly evident, however, that such complicity is founded intersubjectively and has structural roots: It should be clear that, while the oppressor within and our complicity in anti-Black genocide are graspable realities, they are a product of a much broader constellation of societal norms and power structures. The terror that characterizes the afrodiasporic communities is a product of imperialists, White supremacist capitalist patriarchy society (Vargas, 2010: xxi).

occurrence of torture in the police stations, and the conflicts motivated by the drug trade; such facts, and the constant possibility of their occurrence, constitute the persistent background informing the creation of the subjectivities of young black men. (Amparo-Alves, 2010a; 10b; Vargas, 2010).7 The data confirms a very powerful racial and gender bias in terms of exposure to violence, that attains a disproportional level in the case of young, black men (but we should also consider, obviously that the violence against black men also reaches their mothers, sisters, wives, girlfriends, and daughters). In 2004 92.1% of homicide victims were male. In the five year period from 2002 2007, in the total population, the number of white victims fell from 18.852 to 14.308, representing a significant drop, in the order of 24.1%. Amongst Negros (blacks and mestizo), however, the number of victims of homicide grew during that same period, from 26.915 to 30.193, which is the equivalent to a growth of 12.2%. In relation to the question of race and color, the Map demonstrates a general tendency since 2002, of a fall in the absolute number of homicides in the white population and a growth in the black population, as can be seen in the table below.

I could even cite statements from my students at the University, and friends also, who tell of falling over bodies when leaving the house in the morning.


Number of homicides in the Total Population by Race/Colour, 2002/2008. Map of Violence 2011.

Stated in a different terms, the homicide rate of whites fell from 20.6 to 15.5 homicides in every 100 thousand people, representing a fall of 24.9% between 2002 and 2007, while in the black population, the rates grew from 30.0 in 2002, to 32.1 homicides in every 100 thousand people in 2007, which represents an increase of 7%. Speaking proportionally, in 2002, 58.7% more Negros than whites died, in 2004 this indicator climbed even higher, to 85.3%, and in 2007 the index reached 130.4%. We can, reading the map, observe that the homicide in Brazil does not increase in a neutral fashion, but rather proceeds by selecting its victims. In the state of Bahia, 93.1% of homicides registered in 2007, were male victims (Waiselfisz, 2010).


The complexity of the phenomenon also reveals itself in the different percentages for lethal victimization by Race/Colour. An inverse movement of a reduction of violence between racial groups can, taking into account various determinants, manifests itself in diverse ways however the general tendency of growth or of a lower rate of decrease amongst Negros is dominant. In this manner, while in the Northeast, the indexes oscillated between 2002 and 2007 from 8.2 to 7.8 for whites, for the black population of the blackest state in the country, the index in the same period grew from 23.4 to 33.8 deaths per 100 thousand inhabitants. In the case of the increase of violence in the State of Bahia we see that between 1998 and 2008, the number of homicides in the total population passed from 1.251 to 4.765. In the population aged between 15 and 24 this variation was from 452 for 2004 (Waiselfiz, 2011: p.5). In Brazil in total, the rates moved from 18.852 to 14.650 while amongst blacks it increased from 26.915 to 32.349. In the case of Bahia, we have an exception, even amongst the whites an increase occurred, with a growth from 137 to 325 deaths. The numerical disproportion between whites and blacks is such however, that this doesn't disguise the general diagnosis, given that amongst Negros the number varied from 1.280 to 4.099. For the youth population the rate of homicide per 100 thousand inhabitants by Race/Color, is more eloquent still from the structural aspect of racial and juvenile violence in our country. Between 2002 to 2008, the rate amongst whites fell from 39.3 to 30.2; amongst Negros the rate climbed from 62.4 to 70.6 as we see in the table below.


Rates of Homicide and Victimization by Race/Colour in the Youth Population. Brazil, 2002/2008. Map of Violence 2011.

Pedagogy of Panic What happened Ice Blue? Panic in the South Zone.8 Mama, look at the black, I'm afraid! Afraid! Afraid! And they started to fear me (Fanon, 1983:105). This quote long ago became a touchstone for thinking about race. Confronted with the fact of negritude, a hard and rough objective component, a stony exterior of social representation, Fanon sees the landslide of the corporal figure. Their body, their black body, as significant fact or discursive event, inserted into the web of this overwhelming objectivity, is disassembled, dismembered, and demolished. The post-colonial subject, who believed themselves emancipated

O que acontece Ice Blue? / Pnico na Zona Sul - Panic in the South Zone from the album X-Ray from Brazil, Racionais MCs, 1993.


from vile racial determinations; imagined themselves an emancipated consciousness, master of the language which localized their body, sees itself in this way returned to the place of an object amongst objects. The brutal deterritorialization, and the dismemberment of the corporal figure, is the reintroduction of the same violence which constructed the significance of color in the modern occident. The struggle for the reterritorialization of the black body is, in this way, the struggle to recompose a new bodily coherence, amidst the reductive, racialized objectivity of society and subjectivity. As the Brazilian black activist Beatriz Nascimento says: Amidst the light and the sound, I only encounter my body, as it is for you. Old companion of the illusions of the hunt. Body suddenly imprisoned within the destiny of men from distant places. Body map of a distant country searching out other frontiers, the limit of the conquest of me. Mythic Quilombo that makes me a content of a shadow of words. Irrecoverable contours that my hands search to find (Beatriz Nascimento, apud Ratts, 2007: 68). The colonial depersonalization that structures the blacks consciousness of self, in the alienated relationship with their body is the alienated relationship itself of the black person with the society and the sources of social signification. As Bhabha shows, the alienation embodied in this relation, based in the violence and the destruction of the bodily figure, rests over the insoluble contradiction between psychical representation and social reality. The agonistic pair of fear and desire organizes this contradiction over the plane of intersubjective representations. Racism in its multiple faces of perplexity, fear, nausea, negrophobia, is where Fanon sees the hideous temptation to sexual violation to reside. Fear and desire are the central themes which emerge from the black body, but which also function as a platform for the maintenance of a possible black self, or its conditions of possibility. But, asks Bhabha, from where does the specific force of the works of Fanon come? From where, if not from a language of a revolutionary consciousness felt and perceived in the skin itself, which the state of emergency lived (the crisis) not as transitory exception, but as norm, as constitutive rule, maintains in suspension the lived experience of the black man. It is this crisis, marked in the social geography of affects and images of power and subordination by violence, whose validity rests in the very definition of the colonial social space (Bhabha, 2005). In Brazil, soon after the beginning of the 20 th century, violence of a racial character structured social relations. Where desire, and the sexualization of the black man and woman were absent, violence in its terrorizing simplicity and pedagogic immediacy defined the imaginary space which deterritorialized the black body, in the imposition of an effective state of racial terror. Today at the dawn of the 21st century, it is again violence that is the main conditioning factor and determinant of the social standing and humanitarian conditions of the black man in Portuguese America. This whole environment of racial panic, provoked by the incessant pedagogy of terror and an intimidation which not only victimizes, but further exemplifies, transforming all the young men from poorer communities into suspects, that is to say, enemies of the State, specifically determines the modes intersubjective of subjectivization of the black man in Brazil. To the extent to which we are fixed in the viscous and perishable representations of the suspect pattern, we are potential victims or agents, or more often both, of lethal violence.


Vida Loka Subjectivity9 While there is certainly much room for greater empirical development I would like now to outline a few interpretative and critical possibilities. Sherry Ortner (2006), for example, proposes a conception of subjectivity10 as a base for agency and cultural criticism. From this point of view, we would be able to place questions regarding the formation of black subjectivities, and investigate the potential critique of these popular subjectivities. The experience of pain and confusion which accompanies the persistently related feeling of dislocation, experienced by the racialized subject within the the hegemonic institutions and structures, and the conditions of subjection, constructed and experienced subjectively, should, along with the already discussed environments of racial panic and the constant threat of violence, be taken into consideration when creating a critical perspective. Ortner supports her perspective using compelling theoretical examples regarding the consideration of affect as constitutive of experience. For example, in Webers The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (2003) or Raymond Williams and his attempt to comprehend the ways in which culture forms and deforms subjectivities what he called structures of feeling (120), which would permit us finally to understand better the practical formation, and immersion in the cultural determinations, of the subject of experience and of the political. In any respect, the structure of feeling could be considered an element constitutive of social dynamics, and, in a more refined sense, a critique undertaken by vernacular culture, seen for example, in the case of the Hip-Hop movement in Brazil, as already discussed. Fear and the consciousness that the prerogatives of masculinity courage and force are fragile barriers before a much more powerful machine, determine the feelings of young men of dark skin in poorer communities. On the other hand, the language of affirmation of the masculinity of young men exposed to these environments, itself incorporates the dramatization of real violence, introjected as subject positions, the vida loka, ladro, neurtico and bandido, as real metaphorical characters produced in the extreme social/racial context of conflict in modern day Brazil (Mattos, 2006; Pinho & Rocha, 2012). State-Phantasm We know how in the Brazilian context, a large part of the lethal violence produced in the big cities can be attributed to the action of police (civil or military). Usually having recourse to the so-called auto de resistncia police who kill in the line of duty can allege resistance on the part of the victim to impede the prosecution of a homicide investigation. In truth, the autos de resistncia are not characterized judicially as homicides. The sociologist Michel Misse and his team uncovered incredible findings regarding the State of Rio de Janeiro (Misse, 2011) as we can see in the table below, which show the absolute number of civilian deaths in confrontations with police in historical sequence.


The discussion of this section is drawn from an in progress dialogue with Eduardo Rocha. Which she defines as the conjunction of modes of perception, affect, thought, desire and fear which animates actor subjects (Ortner, 2007).


Civil suspects killed in confrontations with police in Rio de Janeiro, State and Capital: 1993 2010. Absolute Numbers. Fonte: ISP-RJ and Necvu-UFRJ. Misse, 2001.

The table shows us that in 2007 the number almost reached 1400 people, in a society that, in theory, is not in a state of civil war. Even though this is the case, the security forces of the State killed 1,400 people, which we know are, in the majority, young black men of the periphery. Such is the spectral and terrible presence of the State, which in this manner, presents itself as, at the same time inefficacious and absent, ruthless and lethal, and at its liminal margins, even occupied by agents of public security in private functions and vice-versa. In this way the Brazilian State exists at its margins or periphery (which can be located even in the degraded centers of the big cities, such as in Salvador11), as a terrorizing double charged with the distribution of death and violence through derived forms, auto-constructed, or subnormal, half privatized and phantasmatic. In The Signature of the State, Veena Das (2004) discusses how the authority of the State as materialized in the everyday does not necessarily imply the introduction of the law as a manifestation of immanent authority, but presents itself to the contrary, as a sign of a distant power, insinuating itself into quotidian practices, in different and at times contradictory ways. The state also perpetuates itself through the possibility of imitation, mimicry, and oblique plays of power, and as a magic, apprehended by marginal/colonial populations regulating their own position by means of a mimesis of state practices. What we would call, in the case of Brazil for example, the absence of the State would be retranslated as the illegibility of laws, by way of which you would produce the a-subjectification. The logic of the state is that it constructs itself as incomplete project, because there are always margins on which people have to be educated to become proper subjects of the state (Das, 2004: 249). Either we have the signature of the State, operating as an emptied manifestation repeated as mimesis at its margins, or a paradoxical phenomenality which Derrida described (1994), in which the State constructs itself marginally, in movements of incomplete of translation: Through an exchange between the real and the

The metropolitan region of Salvador possesses a population greater than three million people, of this, around 80% are Negro (black or mestizo).


imaginary as in notions of panic, and rumor, and credulity, the domain of the civil is instituted and controlled (Das, 2004: 251). Sex Aversion The domain of sexuality is also, on the other hand, the domain of specific forms of oppression, injustice, and inequality. Sexuality, as with other forms of human expression, is mediated by conflicts of interest and political manipulation, and in this sense sex is always political. For Gayle Rubin, this will mean that a radical theory of sexuality should identify, describe and reveal forms of erotic oppression and injustice, or how oppression with a base in sexuality leads to other forms stigmatizations and violence (Rubin, 1998). Popular thinking is immersed in the belief that sexuality is dangerous (and that blacks are more sexual), and should be, if not repressed, at least controlled and maintained within the strict limits of its social function, that is to say, as simply reproductive. However, sex, as a social relation, is itself generated as a point of articulation in the production of separated and sexually distinct bodies (Rubin, 1993). Even further, or because of this, the sexual system is not monolithic, but permeated by incessant battles and conflicts as to values, methods, arrangements, privileges, and legitimations. In such a way, and in many cases, the battle for the regulation of sexual life is a battle to separate acceptable (or respectable) bodies and sexualities, from those other, unacceptable or inassimilable bodies/sexes. The latter are constantly transformed into ghettoized, marginalized, or peripheralized forms of social life (Rubin, 1998). This is as we have seen, in respect to the forms expressive of black culture which in the Americas are associated not only with sexuality, but further eroticism, abandon, and licentiousness, that is to say, baixaria (Vainfas, 1997). The relationship between State authorities, violence, and the regulation of sexuality, and of unregulated bodies, corresponds to particular processes of the development of democracy, and of the formation of new political subjects, in many countries of the Latin America. In Argentina, the coexistence of the military regime with the locas was permeated by tension, persecution, but also a certain erotic ambiguity, as Rapisardi and Modarelli (2001) describe. Amidst the arbitrary imprisonments, extortion, and maltreatment, the malleability of homosexual desire, which is invested in locas (gays) and chongos (boys of the periphery), found expression in the suburban dance halls, in which the distinctions, still perfectly operative, formed in truth, a grammar for sexual interactions, facilitating transgression within controlled limits. Even after the end of the military era in Argentina, as in Brazil, transvestites, hustlers, or homosexuals, continued to be persecuted, arrested and assaulted in the streets. This continues currently under the formal democracy, but now as a measure of respect to honest, descent, or normal residents. During the conservative government of De La Ra, in March of 1989, the municipal legislature of Buenos Aires approved the so called Code of Coexistence which in practice penalized prostitution. Behind the criminalization lay presuppositions of perilousness and the belief in the intent to commit crime. Such presumption is the same as that which allowed the placement of huge parts of the population under the control of the State as potentially dangerous. The bodies of


transvestites appeared in this way dangerous as far as they were exhibited in public spaces, before defenseless women and children (lvarez, 2000: 151). In her prologue to Policing Public Sex, a collection organized by the collective Dangerous Bedfellows, Lisa Duggan recalls the moral panic in relation to the AIDS crisis and the bath houses in New York, referencing the so called Sex Wars and anti-pornography campaigns (Duggan, 1996). Assuming a queer perspective, the authors in the collective, sustain a line of questioning against the normality/stability of identity categories, which they deem to be open ended and unstable, in occasional sex in public spaces, just as much as in oppositions between public and private, in a spirit of challenge to the State in its policing of sexual activity (Dangerous Bedfellows, 1996). The desire to maintain the State out of the regulation of sexual activity and maintain sexual activity itself free of the objectifications of identity, animated the critical project of the collective. We can draw from this the same critical impulse, that would doubt the unlikely coalitions and the about face feminism of the Legislative Assembly of the State of Bahia, as much as deplore the sacrifice of the inventiveness and ambiguity of sexual negotiation to the benefit of State censorship. A State which, as we saw, in the case of Brazil, materializes itself before the poor, young, black of the periphery, as an implacable mask of lethal injustice, becomes a macabre fetish of its own nature. Transfiguration and Class Struggle As Paul Gilroy shows, the cultural forms of the Black Atlantic are modern and modernist most notably as expressions of their hybrid, creole origins, in a manner similar to the subject position which makes of the artist an organic intellectual (Gilroy, 2001). This presupposes a realization of the practical and vernacular overcoming of the Hegelian artistic prerogative, considering the superiority of black art as a medium for a critical reflection on occidental philosophy. In this way Gilroy emphasizes the hardy modernity of black cultural forms, and the superior status of black music in its capacity to express, in an direct image, the will and experience of the slaves and their descendants. The music of the Black Atlantic fits well as productive of primary expressions of cultural distinction, by way of commentary about work and leisure, in a form of popular historicism that does not neglect the complex representations of sexuality and gender.

Frame from the video Homemade. 2012.

Given that gender is the modality in which race is lived, black masculinity carries its own contradictions, for example, the embodiment of a culture of compensation for black men who live under constant racial tension, subjugated by class structures, coerced by the sex-gender system, imprisoned within mediums of militarized discourse, of the market and of criminalization (Amar,


2003). Such subjects appear to see in sex and the body the fundamental location of confrontation with the contradictions around race and gender, which strains the limits of the difference which race makes. The transformation of the terror, violence, and racism of slavery, encountered, in the historicsubjective reconnection of the black man with the body and with sex, constitutes a fatal frontier. The black body, conceived as the barbarized map of both the colonial imaginary and of class struggle, materializes racialized subjects as illegitimate figures, understood as such from the perspective of a universalist civilization and its pedagogy. Here, as in the case of funk, the question of respectability and morality operates as a figure of political difference which travesties the cultural, producing new stigmatizations and criminalization (Mattos, 2011). At the heart of this debate about pagode we cannot ignore such questions and issues, organized by the racial terror of the State, without running the risk of reproducing new oppressions, and, in defending with complete reason, the dignity of the woman, assuming a neocolonial point of view, demonizing the native, unbridled barbarian, prey and predator, for their immoderate sexual appetites.

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