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Culture, Health & Sexuality, 2015

Vol. 17, No. S1, S34S46, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13691058.2014.979882

The sexual erotic market as an analytical framework for


understanding erotic-affective exchanges in interracial sexually
intimate and affective relationships
Mara Viveros Vigoya*

Faculty of Human Sciences, Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Bogota, Colombia


(Received 31 March 2014; accepted 20 October 2014)

This paper examines the way in which erotic-affective exchanges in interracial


relationships have been analysed in Latin America. It considers how race, gender and
class operate within a market of values such that erotic, affective and economic status
are shaped by racial, gender and class hierarchies. In this paper I analyse historical and
social arrangements that embody the regions political economy of race and sex. Such a
perspective allows me to address the simultaneous co-existence of socio-racial
exclusion and inclusion and the repressive and productive effects of power, attraction
and anxiety as aspects of lived experiences in relation to sexuality. From there, I outline
an analytical framework that references an erotic or pleasure-based market in which
capital and other resources are exchanged from a structural perspective stressing
relationship alliances. I conclude by identifying the scope and limits of such an
approach.
Keywords: sexual eroticism; markets; Latin America; interracial sex; intersectionality

Interracial sexually intimate and affective relationships


Interracial sexually intimate and affective relationships include a wide range of exchanges
that cannot be reduced to the institutionalised categories of interracial marriage or
prostitution, as these two areas represent extreme poles of the relationship spectrum and
thus tend to overlook the wide range of transactions that can occur in between, and the
manner in which these can blur boundaries between interest and money-driven sexual
relationships and relationships based on generosity and gifts. In this sense, it may be more
realistic to talk of there being a continuum of sexual-economic exchange (Tabet 1987,
2004).
Interracial sexually intimate and affective relationships in contemporary Latin
America occur in a context defined by the social transformations that took place
throughout the 1990s aimed at strengthening economic modernisation, political
democratisation and constitutional changes. Through their new constitutions, many
Latin American nations sought to resolve this ambiguity, from being culturally defined as
mestizo to being officially recognised as multicultural in character. Roger Bastides (1970)
book, Le Prochain et le Lointain, paved the way for much work on interracial sexually
intimate and affective relationships, as noted by Wade (2008). Numerous studies
(Fernandez 1996; Kutzinski 1993) in Cuba, Brazil and Colombia have reported on the
recurrence of sexualised images of populations and individuals of African origin and have
shown the role that celebrations, sports and advertisements play in the dissemination and

*Email: mviverosv@unal.edu.co

q 2014 Taylor & Francis


Culture, Health & Sexuality S35

renewal of these sexualised stereotypes ( Lavou-Zoungbo 2001). Laura Moutinhos (2006)


research on interracial relationships in Brazil, along with Fernando Urrea et al. (2006)
research and my own work in Colombia (Viveros Vigoya 2008, 2012) affirm the existence
and complexity of links between ethno-racial characteristics, sexuality and desire. One of
the factors that contributes to this complexity is the way in which the issue of race has been
dealt with in Latin America, a region widely perceived as being devoid of racism because
of its mestizo population.
For many years, it was said that social class was the main factor underpinning social
inequality in Latin America, thus overlooking how closely linked race and ethnicity are to
these social disparities and the amount of influence that race has on differences in
opportunity and access to goods and resources by different social groups. Throughout the
twentieth century, miscegenation was the antonomastic symbol of national identity in
Latin America; the paradigm of racial democracy, according to intellectuals like Gilberto
Freyre (1933) in the 1930s. It was this founding myth of an identity that sought to distance
Latin America from the USA and South Africa, when it came to conceiving and addressing
racial issues. However, race and social class persisted as a social category and societal
organising concept, linking modernity with whiteness and generating a particular
coexistence between racism and miscegenation, between its praise as an abstract
incarnation of the spirit of national unity and discrimination against non-white people in
everyday practices (Wade 2009; Viveros Vigoya 2009, 2012). According to Wade, this
coexistence comprises the Latin American version of the tension between universalism
and particularism, constitutive of political orders based on liberal principles. It is not the
side-by-side coexistence of racism and racial democracy as two different phenomena, but
their consubstantiality that matters, as each leaves its mark on the other and is reciprocally
constructed.
A moral environment is usually adverse to interracial unions. Stereotypes of these
unions are plagued with suspicion and censorship, particularly regarding the member of
the relationship with the darker complexion, to whom purely materialistic values (of social
advancement or of whitening) are attributed as it is assumed that such incentives are
greater than any affective, sexual or aesthetic attraction. The potency of these stereotypes
and misgivings surrounding interracial unions usually gives an added degree of pressure to
these relationships as it continuously forces those within the relationship to demonstrate
the legitimacy, authenticity and selflessness of their desires, even when married.
My work on interracial unions in Bogota (Viveros Vigoya 2008) notes that in conjugal
relationships, sexual stereotypes about Black people continue to operate, despite the long-
term stability of the relationship. Although it could be argued that these sexual stereotypes
are muffled or somewhat trivialised once a Black person marries, their impact nevertheless
continues to be felt by the couple, their family members and in their social environment.
In fact, having black skin is so strongly affiliated with sexuality that rare is the case where
people do not make reference to the sexual nature of a relationship in which Black people
are involved (cf. Lavou-Zoungbo 2001). Interracial couples are constantly forced to
position themselves in relation to sexual stereotypes, despite their marital status (Philippe
1998) and these stereotypes are indirectly transposed to the couples emotional and
personal interests (Guyot 2002).
A study in Cali, Colombia, on urban and rural Afro-Colombian heterosexual
womens sexualities (Urrea, Posso, and Motta 2010) notes that Black women seem to be
the desire of no one, and at the same time the desire of everyone. According to this
analysis, Black women may be exist in the stereotyped sexual fantasies and desires of
both the white-mestizo1 and of Black men but at the same time they are excluded from
S36 M. Viveros Vigoya

stable sexual relationships based on values and desires, which fall outside of these
stereotypes. Some women construct their agency from a partial acceptance of their
hypersexualisation, while others do so from the partial denial of this stereotype. It is the
Black, college educated, professional woman who expresses an awareness of the
racialism of her body and speaks out against Black or white-mestizo men who attempt to
subordinate her and stereotype her as an exotic sex object. In short, no Black woman
escapes the sexual stereotypes that confront her; what varies is the manner and the
resources that these women have on hand to deal with these stereotypes, both socially
and individually.
There are similarities and differences in interracial homoerotic relationships with
respect to the behaviours and attitudes described above. Interracial homosexual sexuality
does not fit into the miscegenation narrative because it conflicts with, and highlights, the
heterosexual principles upon which such narratives were founded and operates on the
same level as heterosexual interracial sexuality. However, like interracial heterosexual
relationships, it too involves interracial interactions in a racially hierarchical society.
Several authors (Diaz 2006; Gil 2008; Urrea, Ignacio Reyes, and Botero 2008) relate
this homoerotic market to Black women, suggesting that Black homosexuals seem to be
more desirable for a one-night stand than for a long-term relationship. Their work touches
on the fact that racial prejudice continues to hinder the social interactions of Black gay
men and Black travestis who occupy a similar space socially. They conclude that despite
the desirability of Black same-sex attracted men, their blackness is still considered a
stigma and a condition of inferiority.
Maria Elvira Diazs (2006) studies of Bogotas and Rio de Janeiros gay communities,
Fernando Urrea and colleagues (2008) work in Cali, Colombia, and Franklin Gil (2008) in
Bogota, all agree that the stereotypical image of a Black man as an active partner is very
common and makes them particularly attractive in homosexual social circles. However,
while the Black men interviewed by Diaz said they used this image to attract attention and
to find sex partners, the Black men interviewed by Urreas (2008) team pointed to the
limitations imposed upon them by this role when certain partners, often white men,
assumed that because of their blackness these men must inevitably play the active role in
a sexual relationship.
The experience of being Black and homosexual becomes contradictory and debasing,
particularly in the case of men from economically depressed sectors who have taken
ownership of these stereotypes in an effort to challenge white men and their hegemonic
models of masculinity (Quintn and Urrea 2002; Viveros 2002a and 2002b ). For a Black
man, being homosexual is not only in some way a betrayal of the assumed essential criteria
that defines his racial identity but it is also at odds with the normative and whitened image
that gay identity has acquired,2 making it very difficult to find an appropriate social and
political space in either the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender or black movements
(Gil 2008).
The strength of the imaginary as well as the racial and gender stereotypes operating in
interracial heterosexual relationships is such that it subsumes the need to know Black
people as individuals and generically categorises them as Black men or Black women.
Moreover, while the story of miscegenation appears to refer to all possible racial mixtures,
in practice hegemonic values of gender and white sexuality guide and define the place and
the script assigned to Black eroticism. In the homoerotic field, studies suggest that
interracial homosexual relationships between men and women in Colombia not only fail to
transcend the rules of this particular social grammar in which racism and racial democracy
coexist, but also contribute to its reification.
Culture, Health & Sexuality S37

In Colombia, homosexual couples usually do not choose their partner according to the
same social and economic rules that guide marital alliances. However, to the extent that
such couples obtain social recognition and rights, they assume heterosexual couples
endogamous behaviours (of class and race). Certain forms of gay activism seek to
strengthen and enforce the hegemonic conjugal model (monogamous and heterosexist)
that has characterised white sexuality, because they seek social respectability.
Nevertheless, they do so without questioning the values of decency of the dominant
elite. As Rodrigo Parrini (2012) points out, this behaviour corresponds to an attempt to
produce multicultural states that mimic homosexual subjects with such values so that they
may at once be assimilated, understood and mastered.
In concluding this section, I will refer briefly to interracial heterosexual relationships
in the context of sex tourism. In general, studies of sex tourism and sexual migration in
Latin America have focused on the involvement, particularly of non-white women, in the
global political erotic-affective economy. This is characterised both by an increase in
tourists hailing from the global North coupled with the strengthening of borders that
prevent citizens from the global South from gaining access to these wealthy countries.
Neoliberal policies help increasingly to concentrate wealth in the hands of the few, while
displacing and impoverishing the majority (Pratt 1992).
In the case of so-called sex tourism, where white women play a leading role visiting
the Dominican Republic, Cuba, Colombias San Andres island and other tropical
destinations, it is worth noting how concealed these relationships were for so many years
(Herold, Garcia, and De Moya 2001; Kempadoo 2001; Cabezas 2004). A 2006 French
film, adapted from the novel with the same title, Vers le sud by the Haitian author Danny
Laferriere, revealed something of the complexity that characterises these relationships.
The film, as a fictional device, allows us paradoxically to see more clearly the
transgression of borders assigned on the basis of skin colour, wealth, gender and age.
It also allows us to see how young men and women of colour search for a more fulfilling
life outside the confines of their daily lives. The fluidity and complexity of these
relationships require reflection beyond the framework of prostitution and sex tourism, as
they speak of ways in which to reverse our traditional understanding of the roles of wealth
and age in transactional heterosexual sex.
The stories of women clientele in these encounters are not a simple reversals of the
male stories about holiday/vacation destination sex, because the young men involved do
not consider themselves victims. The relationships are more intertwined and can range
from a one-night stand to the span of a few days. Some relationships take on more stable
forms and are maintained through long distance communication and the sending of care
packages, or involve people living in the same location or where the young man moves to
live in the womans country of origin. These relationships have been labelled sentimental
tourism in an effort to differentiate them from sex tourism, but are defined by the duration
of the relationships established and the womans personal interest in her sexual partner and
his culture. However, this distinction has recently been questioned by those who see it as
the expression of an essentialist conception of gender and heterosexuality that reduces or
hides the race-based domination at work in these encounters, and confuses the notion of
sexual exploitation with victimisation (Salomon 2007, 2009).
Despite the emotional involvement that characterises most of these encounters, one
cannot ignore the traces of dominance within the unidirectional economic flow from white
women tourists to racialised young men whose livelihood is partially based on their erotic-
affective services. Paulla Ebron (2002) ethnographic work on Western womens sex
tourism in The Gambia provides a good illustration of these ambiguities. Her description
S38 M. Viveros Vigoya

highlights the differences in the ways in which the women and men interviewed
understood and interpreted the relationship and the difficulties she came across in trying to
clearly distinguish between the oppressors and the oppressed. Ebron explores this critical
transnational aspect of the social construction of gender (170), linking social and
subjective processes, in the light of statements made by Gayle Rubin [1975] 1996) in her
classic work, The Traffic in Women.
Ebrons analysis of the motivations, aspirations and power differences within these
relationships allows her to conclude that every person involved hopes to use these
encounters to escape certain aspects of racial, economic, patriarchal and age domination.
It is precisely in these contradictions and overlappings of male and female ways of dealing
with dominance, and the weakness that lies within these methods, where interracial sexual
relations are built, which of course are relationships based on power but not solely
domination (Salomon 2009).
Many of the studies of interracial sexual relations referred to in this paper can be
placed within an analytical framework that refers to an erotic or pleasures market in which
different capital and resources are exchanged. This model has heuristic advantages in
describing how the economic politics of sex and race work while simultaneously
conveying two risks or conceptual limitations. First, it assumes the qualities that are
exchanged can be measured on a one-dimensional scale of value and that total personal
capital can be calculated by the sum of the individual statuses. Second, it ignores powers
effectiveness and beneficial aspects, such as the way in which arousal and that which is
forbidden can play out simultaneously, thereby disregarding the ambiguities and
anxieties that characterise unifications of race and sex in the sexual arena.

Two analytical limits of the erotic-affective market model


The image of the erotic-affective market as a social system through which the supply
(producers and sellers) and demand (consumers or buyers) of sexual and affective goods or
services exchange different elements of status such as wealth, skin colour, beauty, youth
and desirability, may appear intriguing but needs to be problematised. Several tensions
exist within the model.
The first of these is derived from the assumption upon which it is founded: namely, that
the complete selling-off of an item in exchange for another is possible. As Peter Wade
(2009, 173) states, while this analytical framework can be useful in examining interracial
sexually intimate encounters, it needs to be used with caution, as characteristics such as
race, age and beauty cannot fully be understood as commodities and therefore cannot be
entirely sold or transferred in an exchange.
As suggested above, the erotic market model also assumes that the qualities exchanged
can be measured on a one-dimensional value scale (based on class, gender or race) and that
total personal capital can be calculated by the sum of their different values. This is
precisely the way in which the articulated or intersectional character of these different
qualities, and their ability to mould and shape themselves, is lost. As Wade (2009)
suggests, wealth in the hands of a Black man is not the same as in the hands of a Black
woman, which means that being Black is more costly for Black women than for Black
men. This situation can be reductively understood by arguing that being a woman
inherently brings with it a cost to the marketplace and thus devalues what she produces.
Framed in such terms, however, we miss the opportunity to understand that the market
itself is structured by gender. People do not come into marriage with a portfolio of
properties that define their worth in the marriage but, rather, it is the marriage market
Culture, Health & Sexuality S39

structured by parameters of gender, race and class that assigns value to qualities, such as
beauty, youth and desirability. For this reason, the very act of marriage is worth more
when the partners are rich, white and heterosexual. The process of getting a spouse with a
lighter complexion is therefore expensive not only in terms of what it represents but also
because marrying a lighter-skinned person implies a more costly transaction than just
living with her (Wade 2009, 175).
In relation to the market model, a large part of the cost of this transaction comes from
the fact that the blackness of a Black spouse cannot fully compensate for their wealth or
education since, in the eyes of others, the very nature of being Black devalues not only the
act of marriage but also their white partner. One white-mestiza woman we interviewed
who was married to, but is now separated from, a Black political leader said that in a
marriage between a Black man and a white woman, the woman loses social status and
prestige because of undesired sexual connotations about white women married to Black
men. She expressed having felt discriminated against because her sexuality had become a
source of suspicion and because she had been labelled as sexually available (Viveros
Vigoya 2008, 264).
However, for young, white, middle class women in Brazil, a union of this kind may
represent a chance to disengage from gender representations that suggest that white women
are sexually passive (Moutinho 2008). In other types of intimate encounters, such as those in
Black nightclubs frequented by older white women or white women who are non-compliant
with prevailing aesthetic standards, such women can accept being debased as women for
Black men in order to escape the social marginalisation linked with age or beauty and to
make up for lost time. Understanding differences in the subjective positioning of women in
these encounters involves using a theoretical model that assumes femininity is not
constructed solely in relation to pre-existing masculinities, and that sex is not an orderly field
made up only of gender relations but is, rather, woven together with race, sex, class and age.
My recent work on the emergence of the black middle class in Colombia (Viveros
Vigoya and Gil Hernandez 2010) shows how race, gender and class form and shape one
another. In this research, I argue that motivations for social advancement do not explain all
the dynamics of interracial alliances and, in many of the cases analysed, the exogamic
racial choice is a consequence of social advancement and its structural determinants, and
not necessarily the result of a deliberate ploy. For the majority of those interviewed,
choosing a partner is guided more by a commonality of tastes, concerns or intellect than by
an intentional search to try and lighten their appearance by aligning themselves with
lighter-skinned people. However, although women and men both link amorous and erotic
demands to the personal meanings ascribed to these intimate experiences more than to
other motivating factors, men and women differ with respect to their marriage status and
the racial identity attributed to their spouses.
Indeed, in the case of men, sex (male) and class (middle) can be mutually reinforced,
thus mitigating the impact of their position in the racial order. While, in the case of
women, sex (female) and race (black) may partially negate the effects of social mobility on
increasing their choices for a partner. Adopting an intersectional and non-additive model
in order to analyse Black, middle-class men and womens choices of partner clarifies
certain configurations of domination, such as the ones experienced by middle-class Black
women in my study. The peculiarity of their marital situation is not the result of the
addition or subtraction of their social attributes but the consequence of the confluence of
their position in terms of class, race and sex.
An intersectional perspective allows for an understanding of the wide and complex
range of relationships that white women tourists have with young Black men. International
S40 M. Viveros Vigoya

tourism has facilitated interactions between the northern and southern geopolitical
hierarchies, and among economic, racial, gender and age inequalities. The variety of
situations involving transactional sex show that in intimate as well as in social confines,
power relations operate in a more complex way than might appear at first glance and that
men and women in subordinate positions are able to stand up against their oppressors by
creating spaces for dialogue to address social inequalities and to take advantage of the
material benefits offered by these relationships, thus bringing them one step closer to
that ideal life from which they have always been excluded. Only a theoretical perspective
that fully comprehends mutually constitutive relationships involving race, gender,
class and age can reduce the difficulty of understanding the various interferences
between intimate social relations and economic transactions, and separate the concepts of
love and money into two distinct spheres, understanding that to combine them would
be contaminative.
The erotic-affective market is unique and different from other capitalist markets
because exchanged wealth and assets are intricately tied to peoples bodies and social
contexts: such capital never loses its link to its origin and it is neither erased nor forgotten.
In this sense, the economics at work here have much more in common with an economy of
the gift, defined by Chris Gregory as the exchange of inalienable things between people in
a mutually dependent state than with a market economy per se (as cited in Wade 2008, 48).
Gregory (1982) and Strathern (2006 [1988]) apply some interesting theoretical
extensions to the concepts of reciprocity and exchange and the anthropological origins of
the contract as proposed by Marcel Mauss 1925 work, Essai sur le Don. Particularly
worth noting is Gregorys (1982) use of Marxs distinction between productive
consumption and consumptive production to differentiate commercial-based systems
from systems of gift exchange. Anthropologists generally acknowledge gifts as differing
from commodities in that gifts require some level of mutual dependence because the
gift giver does not separate himself from the merchandise, but remains an essential part of
it. However, Stratherns questioning of the form in which domination in a gift economy
is assumed, an economy in which Gregory argues alienation could not exist, is also
worth noting.
The second limitation of the analytical model of the market lies in its implicit
conceptions of power relations, as if these were relationships of domination. According to
Foucault (1991), In itself the exercise of power is not violence; nor is it a consent which,
implicitly, is renewable (85). What defines a relationship of power is a mode of action that
does not act directly and immediately on others, but on their own actions. This means that
the power to control anothers actions assumes the freedom of those acting subjects.
Confusing power and domination involves ignoring the productive aspect of power and its
effectiveness, such as simultaneous incitement and prohibition, and prevents considering
the ambivalences and anxieties that characterise the articulations of race and sex in the
field of sexuality.
The ambivalences and anxieties present in interracial erotic-affective transactions are
not unrelated to the coexistence of the racism and racial democracy that constitute Latin
Americas postcolonial history, with its implications of simultaneous inclusion and
exclusion. The fact that this coexistence works largely through miscegenation, in itself an
articulation of race and sex, means that ambivalence is not an abstraction but is instead a
lived experience and an intimate matter, involving bodies, sex, family, kinship and
genealogy (Wade 2009), and, although as Ann Laura Stoler (2005) notes, race always
deals with such intimate matters, miscegenation gives the domain of intimacy a
particularly powerful role.
Culture, Health & Sexuality S41

What Homi Bhabha (1994) calls the Otherness of the Self is particularly appropriate
when it comes to analysing interracial sexual transactions in Latin America, a region in
which the Other may be (or may be an imagined) part of itself, part of its own body and
memory. A key expression of the characteristic ambivalence of race relations is the
simultaneous representative notion of the Black person as inferior, worthless and
sometimes frightening, but also attractive and sexually desirable. This paradox creates
anxiety. While it encourages and reinforces erotic desires towards Black people, racism
divides and restricts authentic encounters with Black women and men as individuals.
It dilutes their real identities behind stereotypical images of the sexual power of Black men
and the natural lewdness of Black women.
The ambivalences and anxieties aroused by interracial sexual and intimate
encounters are also related to the dilemmas black people face for having a double
consciousness or, as W. Du Bois (1903) put it, of being and not being part of the
nation, adhering to the advantages and rejecting the constraints certain stereotypes
impose that can empower them but at the same time limit them. The Black men and
women interviewed in many of the studies cited above admit to feeling drawn to the
values associated with whiteness and at the same time feeling concerned that this
would constitute a betrayal to their own group of origin and promote the stigmatisation
of Black people in general (Wade 2009).

Conclusion
While most of the work mentioned in this paper provides insights into the sexual
desires of black men and women, heterosexuals and homosexuals, as active subjects
capable of exerting power, all of it emphasises the context of domination of which
these desires are part. In doing so, reference to the sexuality of the dominant groups
becomes necessary, as if the oppressed partys desires could not exist outside of that
regime of truth imposed by the oppressor in order to dominate their unsettling
differences (Bhabha 1994). Here, Bhabha highlights the difficulty of examining the
desires of subordinate groups with relative autonomy outside the context of the
relationships of domination in which they are situated. Often, when one assumes the
existence of a strong link between relations of domination and desire, this leads to the
belief that the desire is born from a structural situation in which inequality and
difference are, somehow, as erogenous as power.
It is therefore somewhat simplistic to understand interracial sexual relations as
exchanges governed by the logic of an enclosed and coherent market, disregarding the fact
that desire and eroticism are not merely reflections of the relationships of domination (on
the contrary, they produce them), nor the result of relationships formed out of fear and
distrust, but also of pleasure and desire. As suggested by Homi Bhabhas (1994) analysis
of stereotypes, discrimination and colonialist discourse is not only inscribed in the
economy of discourse, domination and power, but also, and in conflicting ways, in the
economies of pleasure and desire. The question of desire is not as simple as we might
think. A life of desire is not only thoughtful and conscious, but also pre-reflective,
preconscious and unconscious.
In interracial sexual encounters, racism, sexism, classism and youthfulness coexist and
persist; these exchanges broaden the possibilities of the affective, sexual and social lives of
the people involved. The transgression of racial, social and age boundaries exists in the
choosing of a sexual partner but rarely is there confrontation between the gender norms.
The reversal of some asymmetries implies a certain distancing from, but never the
S42 M. Viveros Vigoya

subversion of, gender relations and in some cases, such as in transactional sex between
older white women and younger Black men, the changes that these couples make to the
heterosexual script in the short-term often enable these young Black men to fulfil their
masculine obligations as providers to their families. The same happens to the older white
women who agrees to materially compensate the young man for his social and sexual
companionship, on the condition, however, that they continue to play out a heterosexual
seduction comedy, while disguising the economic dimensions of these transactions in the
form of a gift.
The difficulty of breaking away from these gender and sexual norms, despite their
partial questioning, and the tenacity of racial constructions, leads me to stress the
imperative aspect of these rules and of these forms of racialism. As Judith Butler (2005)
notes, these sexual norms can make and break people. On the one hand, they are so
embodied in the individuals participating in these intimate and sexual encounters, as
expressed in the repetition of sexist prejudices and stereotypes by those very people who
would want to discard them. On the other hand, they prevent those who question these
rules from achieving their ambitions, due to the internalisation of the restrictive aspects
of power and a social order that structurally limits the ability to invent alternative
intimate worlds.
As demonstrated throughout this paper, the persistence of racism and racial
hierarchies in the field of erotic and affective relationships shows that Latin American
societies are not more racially democratic, nor do they assign less importance to
race, than others. Despite the multicultural discourse, the coexistence of racist and
miscegenistic ideologies has allowed the hegemony of race to continue effectively
to fulfil its function, constituting subjectivities and internalising racialised
norms, attitudes, dispositions and representations of the world that affect even the
innermost domains.
This allows us to answer the question that gave rise to this reflection, suggesting that
the image of the erotic-affective market is a relevant metaphor in two respects at least:
first, that it does not establish nor disassociate social relations of gender, race, class and
age, breaking these down into homogeneous categories and creating fixed positions.
An intersectional perspective has value in that it can evoke geometric representations of
fixed social properties of individuals (race, class, gender) that intersect without realising
how these relations interpenetrate to create distinct experiences that are historically and
geopolitically located. There is no domination of gender, sexuality, race or age, in itself,
that would always produce the same effect, rather these are social relationships built
simultaneously in contexts in which the categories of race, class, gender and age are
modernised and acquire meaning in the course of their interactions with one another (West
and Fenstermaker 1995).
The second condition, which allows this image to have a heuristic value, lies in the
emergence of a traditional divide between the subjective world and the political economy.
Interracial erotic-affective exchanges constantly combine subjectivity and social structure
in an experiential space that could be described as a Mobius strip,3 a topological tangle that
constantly moves from one level to another without interruption. Extending this analogy,
we can imagine the interracial erotic market as a circular voyage in which participants
traverse even the most intimate and private of exchanges, such as pleasure and desire, as
well as the most external and structural interchanges, such as historical, economic, cultural
and discursive exchanges. This is also the path that Fanon (1952) walked in Black Skin,
White Masks when reflecting on racism as a lived experience that blurs poetic and
historical boundaries.
Culture, Health & Sexuality S43

Funding
This work was supported by the CALL FOR RESEARCH Orlando Fals Borda 2012 Faculty of
Human Sciences, Universidad Nacional de Colombia.

Notes
1. The term white-mestizo or white-mestiza classifies light skinned men and women,
respectively, as categories of people whose light complexion provides them with social and
symbolic privileges in Colombias racial order.
2. Note that in Colombia there are two contradictory situations: on one hand there is a set of actors
who discriminate through acts of violence and even threaten the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual
and transgender people, and, on the other hand, a quite progressive law exists for same-sex
couples. For example, as a cumulative result of several judgments by the Constitutional Court
(Judgment C-029 in 2009, Judgment C-577 in 2011), gay couples have the same rights as
heterosexual couples. A constitutional review concerning the universality of marriage and the
issue of adoption was underway at the time of writing. There is also a substantial body of law
that reinforces non-discrimination based on sex and sexual orientation.
3. Anne Fausto-Sterling (2006) has described the Mobius as a flat strip twisted once and then glued
on the ends to form a twisted loop surface. She goes on to state, Lets imagine an ant moving
along the surface. At the beginning of this circular trip, the ant is clearly on the outside of the
tape, but as it travels, without leaving the surface at any time, it ends up on the inside (40).

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Resume
Cet article examine comment les echanges erotico-affectifs au sein des relations interraciales ont ete
analyses en Amerique Latine. Il tient compte de la maniere selon laquelle la race, le genre et la classe
sociale operent au sein dun marche de valeurs pour que les statuts erotiques, affectifs et
economiques soient determines par les hierarchies de race, de genre et de classe sociale. Dans cet
article, janalyse comment les arrangements historiques et sociaux incarnent leconomie politique de
la race et du sexe au plan regional. Une telle perspective mautorise a aborder lexistence simultanee
de lexclusion et de linclusion socio-raciales et les effets repressifs et productifs du pouvoir, de
lattraction et de lanxiete en tant quexperiences vecues, relativement a la sexualite. A partir de la, je
mets laccent sur un cadre analytique qui renvoie a un marche erotique ou fonde sur le plaisir, au sein
duquel le capital et dautres ressources sont echanges dans une perspective structurelle qui met en
avant les alliances basees sur les relations. Je conclus larticle en identifiant le champ dapplication et
les limites dune telle approche.

Resumen
El presente artculo examina la manera en que, en America Latina, han sido analizados los
intercambios erotico-afectivos que tienen lugar en las relaciones interraciales. En este sentido,
S46 M. Viveros Vigoya

analiza como operan la raza, el genero y la clase en un mercado de valores en el que los estados
eroticos, afectivos y economicos son determinados por las jerarquas de genero y de clase.
Asimismo, la autora estudia como las estructuras historico-sociales encarnan la economa poltica de
raza y de sexo en la region. Tal perspectiva permite abordar la existencia simultanea de exclusion y
de inclusion socio-racial, as como los efectos represivos y productivos del poder, de la atraccion y
de la ansiedad en tanto aspectos presentes en las vivencias en torno a la sexualidad. A partir de lo
mencionado, la autora esboza un marco analtico que abarca un mercado basado en el erotismo o en
el placer, en el que el capital y otros recursos son intercambiados desde una perspectiva estructural
centrada en las alianzas a nivel de las relaciones. Las conclusiones identifican el alcance y las
limitantes del enfoque utilizado.
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