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This chapter highlights some of the difficulties of an academic ethnography in the Pelourinho. It seeks to establish a position from which to represent the Afro-Brazilian women at the center of the story of the post–World War II Pelourinho without repeating the tension between pathologization and heroicization, which, the author argues, constitutes the sociological operation that converts them into primitive national origins against and upon which Brazilian histories are written in the Pelourinho of the 1990s. In doing so, the chapter moves to the late 1960s and early 1970s and the establishment of IPAC, the state-government heritage institution. It examines the origin myths of this cultural heritage institution, which, perhaps surprisingly, was founded on the examination of the lives of Pelourinho prostitutes.

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