Silences and Surveillance in an Authoritarian Archive: Researching disciplinary practices for homosexuality in the Brazilian Navy


Despite having already lived in Brazil and carried out two years of broader anthropological research on queer black masculinities and queer homosociality in the city of Salvador, the research undertaken on this trip was mostly of an introductory nature. As an initial foray into the realm of the archive made available to the broader, civilian public, it will make way for future ethnography with human subjects, namely queer black men who currently serve in the Brazilian Navy or have served in the past. Two archives and one museum, the Naval Archive (Arquivo da Marinha) in Rio de Janeiro, the Municipal Historical Archive of Salvador (Arquivo Histórico Municipal de Salvador), and the Naval Museum (Museu Naval) in Rio de Janeiro, were explored in order to become familiarized with, at first, each respective city’s naval presence followed by general naval procedures, documentation practices, and issues involving personnel, namely discipline. Where many difficulties arose with archival bureaucracy and management, as explained in deeper detail in the report, some objectives were achieved in finding examples of discipline for homosexual behavior, mostly applied uniformly. Other objectives were complicated by glaring archival silences which in turn created other objectives, compounded by what media reports and personal acquaintances in the Brazilian military added along the way. These archives will be used probably one or two more times in the future so as to further strengthen the foundation upon which this dissertation will be constructed. 

John Mundell
Publication date: 
August 27, 2016
Publication type: 
Student Research