The Heart Is an Unknown Country: Love in the Changing Economy of Northeast Brazil

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  • Edition: 1st
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 1999-09-01
  • Publisher: Stanford Univ Pr
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This is a study of love, specifically of men's and women's emotional roles vis-a-vis one another in Northeast Brazil; of how people form conjugal relationships in this region; and of the impact of rapid socioeconomic change on courtship, marriage, cohabitation, and infidelity. Rapid urbanization and expansion of the cash economy have transformed the region in a few decades. Among the transformations are shifts in how people conduct courtship, form marriages, view the proprieties of sexual behavior, and assess the proper social and economic roles of men and women. These changes have altered the relative importance of physical, economic, and emotional intimacy in conjugal relationships, transforming the nature of marriageonce defined as a largely economic relationshipinto a largely emotional relationship, as ideas of romance once associated with infidelity, concubinage, and courtship are increasingly attached to marriage. The book is largely based on interviews with men and women who talked about their often complicated love lives with wit and passion, and the book is rich in personal stories and quotations. Women were asked to discuss the nature of men and women, and men were asked to talk about women. Both sexes were questioned about their views on prostitution, concubinage, and promiscuity, as well as their definitions of love. Parents were asked for their views about marriage and child rearing (especially differences in raising boys and girls), their relations with their own parents, lovers, spouses, and friends, and their views on virginity and sexual propriety. The bluntness and articulateness of the informants about their motivations and experiences not only demonstrated that men and women viewed conjugal relationships very differently but enabled the author to specify and explore these differences in unusually interesting ways.

Author Biography

L. A. Rebhun is Associate Professor of Anthropology at Yale University.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Studying Love in Northeast Brazil 1(18)
Part I: Economy and Emotion in Caruaru
The Problem: On the Nature of Sentiment
The Setting: Caruaru, Capital of the Agreste, Mouth of the Sertao
Love as Connection: Social Network and Emotion in an Ambiguous Economy
Part II: Romantic Love in a Changing Economy
Romance and Modernization
Ideals of Masculinity and Femininity: Love in a Divided Society
Courtship, Marriage, and Cohabitation: The Practice of Conjugal Love
The Language of Love in Northeast Brazil
Infidelity in Companionate and Romantic Marriage
Considerations of Love in Caruaru
Appendix: People Cited in the Text 223(4)
Glossary of Brazilian Terms 227(4)
Notes 231(36)
Bibliography 267(26)
Index 293
10 pages of photographs follow page 86

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