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ABSTRACT 

Understanding current neoliberalism in Brazil requires an analysis of the piracy that has been going on there since at least the 1970s. Early phases of neoliberalism shrank the state, liberalized markets, and privatized resources. Current forms of neoliberal practice are characterized by large informal economies, intellectual property (IP), circulatory “legitimacy,” individualized consumption, and the reproductive fidelities of digital technology. This current combination places the unauthorized production, sale, and use of goods (often referred to as “piracy”) at the center of the forms of exchange on which the modern Brazilian economy relies. Purchases may be viewed as degraded or redemptive by having been mediated through “piracy,” and most consumers of public culture are referred to at some point by the culture industry as “pirates.” The anxious subjectivities that result from piracy's emerging centrality are here analyzed at two contrasting Brazilian sites. The first is an NGO that polices violations of IP. The second is an informal marketplace in the state of São Paulo where workers strive for “competitive pricing.” In both of these sites, piracy simultaneously elucidates international discourses while it inscribes local approaches to mixture and boundary violation. At some moments, piracy appears as a distinctly Brazilian “embarrassment.” In others, it is a typically creative Brazilian solution to the problem of unfair international markets. [piracy, neoliberalism, intellectual property, informal economies, camelô, Brazil]