Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Bohemia and Belonging in a Middle of Nowhere Somewhere
by Murphy, Timothy Eugene, Ph.D., University of California, Davis, 2012, 302; 3555380
Abstract (Summary)

With a population nearing one million and a growing middle class, the inland northeastern Brazilian city of Teresina is representative of a category of city that, while largely overlooked in academic scholarship, is increasingly the type of place that people throughout the developing world are calling "home." As Teresina's residents—the vast majority of whom originally hail from smaller towns throughout the region—take advantage of unprecedented opportunities for consumption and mobility, their perceptions of the world and their position in it are rapidly transforming, presenting many residents with new challenges of establishing a sense of belonging at multiple geographic scales.

The dissertation--based on more than two years of ethnographic fieldwork in Teresina—examines how a community of middle-class avant-gardes situates itself within its city, nation, and beyond during a critical moment in which the upwardly-mobile mainstream finds itself increasingly incorporated into larger worlds that remain physically difficult to reach. By focusing on a network-community of avant-gardes—their appropriations of the world, the particular spatiotemporal matrix through which they operate, and their relationship to the upwardly-mobile mainstream—my project explores how both women and men negotiate multiple and shifting terrains of belonging. I argue that in a place like Teresina, where people are inundated with cultural and economic change on the one hand, and are deeply rooted in the institutions of family and the local mainstream on the other, deploying different discourses and practices in different spaces and moments serves as an antidote to the ongoing challenge of achieving a sense of belonging in the world and at home.

Teresina occupies a marginal position in the Brazilian imagination. Not only is it associated with poverty and cultural backwardness, it is also thought to be the city with the hottest climate in Brazil. Consequently, narratives of inferiority of place and performances of cultural sophistication are prevalent in Teresina. In attending to these discourses and practices, I contribute to the anthropological literatures of globalization, cities, middle class, and status. In the name of belonging, Teresina's network-community of avant-gardes carves out a unique relationship to space and time in the city. By tracing these women and men's lives across the domains of work, family, bohemia, and intimate relationships forged around articulations of same-sex desire, I extend the social science scholarship on cosmopolitanism, bohemia, queerness, and transnational sexualities.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Donham, Donald L.
Commitee: Holloway, Thomas H., Parrenas, Rhacel S.
School: University of California, Davis
Department: Anthropology
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-A 74/07(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Cultural anthropology, Geography, GLBT Studies, Latin American Studies
Keywords: Brazil, Cosmopolitanism, Global middle class, Globalization, Queerness, Teresina, Urban anthropology
Publication Number: 3555380
ISBN: 978-1-267-96918-7
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