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Palgrave Macmillan

Domestic Servants in Literature and Testimony in Brazil, 1889-1999

ISBN 9781137353795
Publication Date February 2014
Formats Hardcover Ebook (EPUB) Ebook (PDF) 
Publisher Palgrave Macmillan

This book demonstrates the symbolic centrality of servants in Brazilian intellectual discourse (fiction, memoirs, conduct literature, and journalism) over the course of one century—from the aftermath of the abolition of slavery (1888) to late twentieth-century maids' testimonies. It explores demeaning images of servants to examine the ways intellectuals reconciled the colonial legacy of servitude with Brazil's modernization. While the first chapters examine the discourse of 'the servant problem,' revealing the elite's power anxieties vis-à-vis post-abolition transformations of domestic social contracts, later chapters explore new nuances of cross-racial conflicts facing contemporary servants' grassroots movements and the increase in female white-collar employment.

Sônia Roncador is Associate Professor of Brazilian Literature and Culture at the University of Texas at Austin, USA. She is the author of Poéticas do empobrecimento: a escrita derradeira de Clarice (2002) and A doméstica imaginária: literatura, testemunhos, e a invenção da empregada doméstica no Brasil (1889-1999) (2008). Her current book project discusses the overlap of discourses on immigration and slavery and servitude in order to reveal the cross-currents of the Portuguese and African Diasporas in Brazil.

Introduction - The Burdened Legacy of Domestic Servitude in Brazil
1. Júlia's Maids: Servants in the Cultural Imaginary of the Tropical Belle Époque
2. 'My Ol' Black Mammy': Childhood Maids in Brazilian Modernist Memoirs
3. 'How to Treat a Maid?': Misencounters with Servants in Clarice Lispector's
4. Writers in Aprons: Brazilian Servants' Testimonios


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