House and Street: Narratives of Identity in a Liminal Space among Prostitutes in Brazil



This article is an ethnography using Da Matta's theoreticalframework of "house" and "street" among prostitutes in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. These prostitutes generally regard prostitution as immoral and deny their association with an activity that they inwardly despise. Alternatively, among the prostitutes who adopt a positive self-identity as the whore or the sex worker, this picture changes. By accepting and assuming these roles, they leave the space of ambiguity, ofliminality, of street, and find a social place. They also demonstrate a higher self-esteem and more solidarity toward their colleagues. The sex worker perceives herself as a citizen and prostitution as a job; AIDS prevention is a current topic among them. The whore, although not considering prostitution as a legitimate job, also leaves liminality by accepting marginality as her home (house) and choice.