«Embodying Citizenship in Brazilian Women’s Film, Video, and Literature, 1971 to 1988 by Leslie Louise Marsh A dissertation submitted in partial ...»
Embodying Citizenship in Brazilian Women’s
Film, Video, and Literature, 1971 to 1988
Leslie Louise Marsh
A dissertation submitted in partial fulfillment
of the requirements for the degree of
Doctor of Philosophy
(Romance Languages and Literatures: Spanish)
in The University of Michigan
Associate Professor Catherine L. Benamou, Co-Chair
Assistant Professor Lawrence M. La Fountain-Stokes, Co-Chair
Associate Professor Sueann Caulfield Associate Professor Maria E. Cotera Assistant Professor Paulina Laura Alberto A catfish laughs.
It thinks of other catfishes In other ponds.
⎯ Koi Nagata © Leslie Louise Marsh To my parents Linda and Larry Marsh, with love.
To all those who helped and supported me in Brazil and To Catherine Benamou, whose patience is only one of her many virtues, my eternal gratitude.
ii Table of Contents Dedication ii
iv Chapter 1 Introduction 1 2 The Body and Citizenship in Clarice Lispector’s A 21 Via Crucis do Corpo (1974) and Sonia Coutinho’s Nascimento de uma Mulher (1971) 3 Comparative Perspectives on Brazilian Women’s 90 Filmmaking and the State during the 1970s and 1980s 4 Contesting the Boundaries of Belonging in the Early 156 Films of Ana Carolina Teixeira Soares and Tizuka Yamasaki 5 Reformulating Civitas in Brazil, 1980 to 1989 225 6 Technologies of Citizenship: Brazilian Women’s 254 Independent and Alternative Film and Video, 1983 to 7 Conclusion 342 Sources Consulted 348 iii Abstract Embodying Citizenship in Brazilian Women’s Film, Video, and Literature, 1971 to 1988 by Leslie Louise Marsh Co-Chairs: Catherine L. Benamou and Lawrence M. La Fountain-Stokes This project considers the ways in which various women artists sought to transform society and politics in Brazil during the military regime and during the period of redemocratization, from 1971 to 1988. Through close textual analyses and a review of historical contexts, I discuss the ways in which Brazilian women’s cultural works functioned as modes of political participation to rethink and redefine citizenship during and after the military dictatorship in Brazil. It proceeds by considering the representation of the body in three different arenas of cultural expression – literature, film, and video – as each mode became a viable outlet for women’s voices. I discuss the collection of short stories A Via Crucis do Corpo (1974) by Clarice Lispector, the collection of short stories Nascimento de uma Mulher (1971) by Sonia Coutinho, the early feature-length fiction films by Ana Carolina Teixeira Soares (Mar de Rosas, 1977; Das Tripas Coração, 1982;
Sonho de Valsa, 1986) and Tizuka Yamasaki (Gaijin: Os Caminhos da Liberdade, 1980;
independent film and videomaker Eunice Gutman, and videos by The Lilith Video Collective and the non-profit women’s organization SOS-Corpo. The women’s works I have selected reference different modalities of cultural production as well as come from different economic and regional backgrounds. Lastly, this project addresses issues of women’s sexuality and identity, both central to the discussion of citizenship in these women’s works. As it considers the transition process(es) taking place in Brazil from the 1970s and 1980s, this project addresses the ways in which women cultural producers challenged cultural beliefs and political practices. My key questions are: In what ways did these women artists make the body a site of political struggle? In what ways does the representation of the body change over time? How do these works of women’s literature, film, and video contribute to reinventing citizenship in Brazil?
This project considers the ways in which various women artists sought to transform society and politics in Brazil during the military regime and during the period of redemocratization. I argue that Brazilian women artists placed the female body at the center of their works to challenge and redefine citizenship during and after the military dictatorship in Brazil. Brazilian women took to three different arenas of cultural expression – literature, film, and video – as each mode became a viable outlet for women’s voices. Ultimately, women’s literature, film, and video from 1971 to 1988 functioned as modes of political participation in the process of rethinking citizenship in Brazil.
In this project, I discuss the collection of short stories A Via Crucis do Corpo (1974) by Clarice Lispector, the collection of short stories Nascimento de uma Mulher (1971) by Sonia Coutinho, the early feature-length fiction films by Ana Carolina Teixeira Soares (Mar de Rosas, 1977; Das Tripas Coração, 1982; Sonho de Valsa, 1986) and Tizuka Yamasaki (Gaijin: Os Caminhos da Liberdade, 1980; Parahyba, Mulher Macho, 1983;
Patriamada, 1984), films and videos by the independent film and videomaker Eunice Gutman, and videos by The Lilith Video Collective and the non-profit women’s organization SOS-Corpo. The women’s works I have selected reference different modalities of cultural production as well as come from different economic and regional backgrounds. These women artists explore issues of women’s sexuality and identity, making both central to the discussion of citizenship in Brazil during the early 1970s to the late 1980s. In the process, they challenge a masculinist state and patriarchal imaginary that have served to draw the boundaries of belonging in Brazil.
As it considers the transition process(es) taking place in Brazil from the 1970s into the 1980s, I address the ways in which women cultural producers challenged cultural beliefs and political practices. Central to my interest rests the notion of citizenship and the reconfiguration of political practice in multicultural, multiethnic, and racially diverse societies. My key questions are: In what ways did these women artists make the body a site of political struggle? In what ways does the representation of the body change over time? How do these works of women’s literature, film and video contribute to the reinvention of citizenship in Brazil after a period of political and social repression?
The historical period from the early 1970s to the late 1980s is one of intense contrasts and rich debates. At the same time the authoritarian military regime curtailed civil and political rights, it guided the economic development of the nation and sought to define national identity. Industries were modernized, mass media developed at break-neck speed and the gap widened dramatically between the rich and the poor. The State founded a number of institutions dedicated to promoting Brazilian film, art, and literature, while political dissidents were forced into exile or arrested, tortured, or disappeared.
Participation in grassroots organizations swelled throughout Brazil despite violent repression. Although a repressive environment made nongovernmental organizations nearly impossible to found and develop in the 1960s and early 1970s, NGOs eventually addressed a myriad of sociopolitical issues neglected by the authoritarian state in the later 1970s and 1980s.
Key to the continued existence of the military dictatorship in Brazil, which lasted from 1964 to 1984, was its ability to control as well as adapt to shifting sociopolitical landscapes. Prior to the period of redemocratization from 1984 to 1988, the dictatorship went through four phases. The first years of the dictatorship (1964-1968) are characterized by relative freedoms of expression, followed by the most repressive and violent period of the regime (1968-1972). A period of slow, political decompression, or distensão, describes the third period from 1974 to 1979, at which time political amnesty was declared. The fourth period, referred to as Abertura, represents a period of political opening during which time a reinvigorated civil society demanded the return to democracy. Lastly, the period of redemocratization began in 1985 and ended with the ratification of a new Brazilian Constitution in 1988.
Times of transition tend to be fervent cultural moments. Paola Cesarini suggests that periods of political transition are crucial moments for reshaping the nature of politics and moments for constituting “refounding myths” of the nation and the past.
In contradiction to Leonardo Avritzer’s observation of a traditional lack of popular activity in the public space in Latin America, the years encompassing the dictatorship in Brazil also saw masses of civilians taking to the streets to fight for their rights and demand social and political justice.2 Paola Cesarini, “Legacies of Injustice in Italy and Argentina,” in Authoritarian Legacies and Democracy in Latin America and Southern Europe (Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 2004), 163.
Leonardo Avritzer, Democracy and the Public Space in Latin America (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2002), 3-4.
One of the effects of authoritarian regimes is to disrupt relationships between individuals and the larger collectives to which they belong. The body is central to any discussion of individuals’ participation in political life and a departure point for personal identity and political subjectivity. Thus, the body became a key political site for expressing dissatisfaction with the political system under the military dictatorship in Brazil. Artists privileged feelings and action over reason. They distrusted intellectual and theoretical discourses and reevaluated previously accepted myths surrounding the body and the inclusion of individuals as members of the national community. In short, the previously drawn boundaries of belonging were challenged and redefined. In the women’s works I discuss here, a focus on the female body serves to bridge different modes of women’s expression and two main historical periods – the years during the military dictatorship and the years encompassing the process of redemocratization.
Scholars have demonstrated an increasing interest in the subject of citizenship. For some, this interest arises against a backdrop of sociopolitical shifts brought about by economic globalization. Why talk about citizenship in Brazil? The move to claim and reclaim civil, social, and political rights in the 1970s and 1980s takes on particular significance when contextualized within the history of Brazil. Since its independence from Portugal in 1822, the vast majority of Brazilians have not been politically enfranchised. A bifurcated system of social rights, one dedicated to citizen-workers and one dedicated to the poor, has effectively produced and reproduced subaltern groups.3 Although Brazilian national identity has relied on the notion of racial democracy – which is beginning to be questioned – (non-white) individuals are the poorest, least educated Amélia Cohn, “A Questão Social no Brasil: A Difícil Construção da Cidadania,” Viagem incompleta: a experiência brasileira: 1500-2000, ed. Carlos Guilherme Mota (São Paulo: Editora SENAC, 2000), 389and most vulnerable to police violence and the failings of the judicial system.4 Indigenous peoples have lived under a protected status akin to the legal status of children and, until recently, women could be killed by their husbands who were legally absolved under the “defense of one’s honor” clause.5 A key facet of democracies is participation. The ability to participate freely in political and cultural processes was denied the Brazilian populace. Indeed, scholars of Latin America have diagnosed a significant gap in the relationship between people and State institutions as a sequelae of authoritarian regimes.6 Consuelo Cruz argues that individual autonomy was minimized or negated in Latin American during the dictatorships that prevailed in the region in the 1970s such that there was no negotiation between citizen as subject and sovereign.7 In short, a legacy of colonial and authoritarian regimes in Brazil has created a highly unequal, paternalistic society where the boundaries of belonging and participation have been limited to an elite few.
The (re)claiming of citizenship in Brazil in the mid-late 1980s is one of the most important cultural and political processes to have taken place during the second half of the twentieth century. From the beginning of the military regime in 1964 until the end of See for example Teresa do Rio Pires Caldeira, City of Walls: Crime, Segregation, and Citizenship in São Paulo (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000).
See Wânia Pasinato Izumino, Justiça e violência contra a mulher: o papel do sistema judiciário na solução dos conflitos de gênero (São Paulo: Annablume: FAPESP, 1998). See also Denise Dourado Dora, Feminino masculino: igualdade e diferença na justiça (Porto Alegre: Editora Sulina, 1997). Regarding the law and women, noting the proposals made to the Constitution and the laws passed that most affected women’s
position in society and independent, legal entities, see Florisa Verucci, A mulher e o direito (São Paulo:
See for example Paula Capellin, “As mulheres e o acesso à cidadania no Rio de Janeiro: anotações sobre a pesquisa ‘Lei, justiça e cidadania’,” in Cidadania, justiça e violência, ed., Dulce Chaves Pandolfi (Rio de Janeiro: Fundação Getúlio Vargas Editora, 1999), 205-228; and Katherine Hite and Paola Cesarini, eds.,
Authoritarian Legacies and Democracy in Latin America and Southern Europe (Notre Dame, IN:
University of Notre Dame Press, 2004).
Consuelo Cruz, “Latin American Citizenship: Civic Microfoundations in Historical Perspective,” in Authoritarian Legacies and Democracy in Latin America and Southern Europe, eds., Katherine Hite and Paola Cesarini (Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 2004), 313.
the redemocratization period in 1988, citizenship for women dramatically changed.
Women fought to change women’s legal status, patriarchal practices in the legal system were challenged, and the state established organizations dedicated to women’s rights.
This last achievement can be largely attributed to the success of the women’s movements in Brazil that made gender and women’s sexuality an issue of social and political import.
Citizenship as Process Contemporary approaches to the question of citizenship often begin with T. H.