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Travesti: Sex, Gender, and Culture among Brazilian Transgendered Prostitutes
by Don Kulick
In this dramatic and compelling narrative, anthropologist Don Kulick follows the lives of a group of transgendered prostitutes (called travestis in Portuguese) in the Brazilian city Salvador. Travestis are males who, often beginning at ages as young as ten, adopt female names, clothing styles, hairstyles, and linguistic pronouns. More dramatically, they ingest massive dose ...more
Paperback, 277 pages
Published November 15th 1998 by University Of Chicago Press
(first published 1998)
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Best Books Involving Sexwork (Fiction and Nonfiction)
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Brazilians, on the rare occasions that they speak positively of travestis, those renowned gender-defying generators of much lurid modern folklore and commentary, will celebrate them as a particularly visible representation of societal inversion. While the nation relishes its alleged Carnival-esque ability to undermine and overcome its strict Roman Catholic heritage, Kulick suggests that travestis reinforce rather than invert the traditional cultural views on sex and gender. In his judgment, trav ...more
A fun and interesting read about Brazilian transgendered prostitutes that was completely unexpected. I assumed this book would be a completely factual re-encounter of Kulick's fieldwork in Brazil. What I unexpectedly discovered after the first couple of pages that this was not just factual it was caring, genuine and a light-hearted memoir of the unheard voices of these under privileged, under loved and sometimes hated people. Kulick noted throughout this book that previous studies on Travesti's ...more
I may just be lucking out with the anthropological books that I read, but each one has been amazing, Travesti by Don Kulick being no exception. The nuances of sex and gender are usually unknown to the common American, and the differences between the "trans" words, like transgender, transexual, and transvestite are oftentimes confused. In this book Don sheds light on a subculture of transgendered individuals who challenge even the basic understandings that we have on gender, and what he presents ...more
Muito interessante ver a visão de um antropólogo sueco sobre uma realidade de vivências trans que ele afirma serem praticamente exclusivas do Brasil: as travestis. Chamando o país de "uma sociedade de violência", após viver 8 meses com 13 travestis em Salvador, relata as vivências delas em meio à ojeriza de uma sociedade que não só as colocam à margem, mas as agridem fisicamente de maneira cotidiana. Com uma escrita fluida e sem grandes discussões teóricas, o livro passa a sensação de que estamo ...more
Kulick's honesty is probably the thing that makes this not just an anthropological tract but an excellent piece of non-fiction writing. Kulick is honest with the travesti with whom he lives, and he's honest with us about his life and how it might affect his perspective on the unusual situation in which he's placed himself. He writes with a maturity and understanding that gives him something better than social-scientific objectivity: the awareness of the inevitable subjectivity of his perspective ...more
This is a really nicely balanced and respectful ethnography of a fascinating subculture in Brazil. I only wish the author had continued to embrace the subjects' own embodied paradox rather than trying to fit them into a concrete framework at the end, although he did it in an innovative and believable way.
Don Kulick is Professor of Anthropology at the University of Chicago. His books include Travesti: Sex, Gender, and Culture among Brazilian Transgendered Prostitutes.More about Don Kulick...