Sex Tourism in Bahia: Ambiguous Entanglements

* Winner of the National Women’s Studies Association/University of Illinois Press First Book Prize *

How sexism, racism, and socio-economic inequality interact in the Brazilian sex industry.

From the University of Illinois Press website:

“As the first full-length ethnography of sex tourism in Brazil, this pioneering study treats sex tourism as a complex and multidimensional phenomenon that involves a range of activities and erotic connections, from sex work to romantic transnational relationships. Erica Lorraine Williams explores sex tourism in the Brazilian state of Bahia from the perspectives of foreign tourists, tourism industry workers, sex workers who engage in liaisons with foreigners, and Afro-Brazilian men and women who contend with foreigners’ stereotypical assumptions about their licentiousness.”

“This ambitious, fascinating ethnography clearly articulates how sex tourism in Bahia, Brazil, depends on the sexualized and racialized bodies of people of African descent. Erica Lorraine Williams makes a significant contribution by examining how sex tourism is both a racial and sexual project and how race is central to the commodification of culture.”–Amalia L. Cabezas, author of Economies of Desire: Sex and Tourism in Cuba and the Dominican Republic.

At my book signing at the National Women’s Studies Association Conference in Cincinnati, Ohio, Nov. 2013


This book draws upon eighteen months of ethnographic field research conducted between June 2005 and August 2008. Through my analysis of the interviews that I conducted with a broad range of people (tourists, tour guides, sex workers, NGO representatives), I map out diverse and, at times, conflicting understandings of sex tourism.

Although Brazil is a significant site of sex tourism in the world, most of the anthropological scholarship on this topic has focused on Cuba and the Dominican Republic, and there is a surprising dearth of scholarship on sex tourism in Brazil, particularly published in English.

AAA book signing



This book advances an intersectional, transnational, black feminist approach to sex tourism that is deeply influenced by feminist anthropology, queer studies, and activist anthropology. Furthermore, it offers important ethnographic material to help us make sense of how race, affect, and cultural production play out in the context of transnational tourism.



“Women’s Studies and Sexuality Studies at HBCUs: The Audre Lorde Project at Spelman College.” Forum: W/G/S Studies. In Feminist Studies. Vol 39. 2013. Download Here

“Sex work and exclusion in the tourist districts of Salvador, Brazil.” Gender, Place, and Culture: A Journal of Feminist Geography. May 2013. Download Here







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