Mediating Authenticity: Gender, Race, And Representation In The Careers Of Clementina De Jesus And Carolina Maria De Jesus
This dissertation explores representations of race and gender embodied by Clementina de Jesus (1901-1987), samba singer, and Carolina de Jesus (1915-1977), author of the autobiographical memoir Quarto de Despejo (1960). Both women were "discovered" by middle class intellectual men from outside of their communities. Once they achieved renown, they were promoted as symbols of Brazil's social reality by cultural mediators of a different class and race, representing the commonly gendered and racialized archetypes of the mãe preta and the discriminated favelada. Through analysis of literary, musical, journalistic, and photographic portrayals of both women, I explore the role of cultural mediation in the construction of Brazilian identity in the 1960s and 70s, a time of intense social debate over race, poverty, and national identity. Both women achieved recognition shortly before the military coup d'etat and subsequent dictatorship (1964-1985), a time when the Brazilian middle class was engaged in a constant search for the "roots" of national identity within popular cultural forms. The cultural mediators examined in this project formed bridges between creators and audiences from radically different backgrounds, smoothing the transition between groups and framing the cultural production of others in specific ways. By eventually acting as cultural mediators themselves, Carolina and Clementina prove that the process of cultural mediation is dynamic instead of static, shifting over time and relationships of power. This study demonstrates that both the process of cultural mediation and the quest for authenticity were inherently linked to relations of class, race, and gender, affirming instead of transcending the social divisions between groups in twentieth century Brazil.