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Just Between Us

An Ethnography of Male Identity and Intimacy in Rural Communities of Northern Mexico

Guillermo Núñez Noriega

Publication Year: 2014

    A photograph of two men, cowboy-hatted and -booted and discreetly holding hands, is the departure point in a groundbreaking study on masculinity and homosexuality in Mexico. Just Between Us, an ethnography of intimacy and affection between men, explores the concept of masculine identity and homoeroticism, expressing the difficulties men face in maintaining their masculinity while expressing intimacy and affection.
    Using fieldwork from rural Sonora, Mexico, Guillermo Núñez Noriega posits that men accept this intimacy outside gender categories and stereotypes, despite the traditional patriarchal society. This work contests homophobia and the heterosexual ideal of men and attempts to break down the barriers between genders.
    The photograph Núñez Noriega uses to explore the shifting attitudes and perceptions of sexuality and gender provokes more questions than answers. Recognizing the societal regulations at play, the author demonstrates the existence in contemporary Mexico of an invisible regime of power that constructs and regulates the field of possibilities for men’s social actions, especially acts of friendship, affection, and eroticism with other men. The work investigates “modes of speaking” about being a man, on being gay, on the implicit meanings of the words homosexual, masculine, trade, fairy, and others—words that construct possibilities for intimacy, particularly affective and erotic intimacy among men.
    Multiple variants of homoeroticism fall outside the dominant model, Núñez Noriega argues, a finding that offers many lessons on men and masculine identities. This book challenges patriarchal definitions of sex, gender, and identity; it promotes the unlearning of dominant conventions of masculinity to allow new ways of being.

Published by: University of Arizona Press


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Title Page, Copyright

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pp. i-vi


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pp. vii-2

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pp. 3-30

According to a popular proverb, “an image speaks louder than a thousand words.” How convenient everything would be if this were true. If that were the case, then the scholarly need to “know things” and the anthropologist’s anguish over the desire to express in words the ethnographic experience...

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1. The Social Regulation of Male Identity and Intimacy

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pp. 31-62

I met Don José Pedro as a result of walking past his house every day and exchanging the normal greetings. On many occasions, the greetings have led to long conversations. Our talks have usually revolved around different aspects of his life and his family. I have noticed that Don José Pedro really...

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2. Disputes over the Meaning of “Being a Man” in Mexico: Applications of Queer Theory

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pp. 63-88

While I sit on a bench in the Town Square in La Mesa, around the time when people retire to take their siesta and the streets look deserted, I see three boys approximately six or seven years old playing around and climbing a large olive tree nearby. One of the boys climbs to the highest branch. Looking down, he says to his friend below: “Let’s see if you are really a...

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3. Acá Entre Nos (Just Between Us): Cultural Notions About Rajarse, the Body, and the Negotiation of Male Intimacy

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pp. 89-117

When I began this research project I, often wondered what difficulties I might encounter trying to obtain personal information from the people I interviewed. I questioned my ability to get answers about issues that for most people are shrouded in privacy. Even though I entered the field with previous experience in the research of homoerotic practices, I felt that I...

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4. Male Intimacy and Homophobia: Different Subjectivities, Powers, and Resistances

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pp. 118-164

Mariano is a friend of mine—a dentist, divorced father with custody of his two children—who worked for several years in the small town of El Edén. He confessed to me one day that for a long time he had maintained a “very intimate” friendship with Gonzalo, the brother of his friend César, whom I had had the opportunity to interview when I was conducting research on...

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5. Acknowledging Pleasures, Deconstructing Identities: Anthropology, Patriarchy, and Homoerotic Experience in Mexico

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pp. 165-184

In previous chapters, I have tried to present, through a variety of ethnographic notes, the rich and complex sexual/gender field in which erotic and affective intimacy among men take places in northern Mexico. It has been my intention to show the different ways of living and understanding the homoerotic experience beyond the already known and theoretically ...

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pp. 185-190

When I first saw the picture of José Pedro and Francisco lightly holding hands, I felt I was in the presence of an intimate relationship between men that somehow continues to exist nowadays. This was something I intuited from my own personal and previous ethnographic experience with some people in the Serrano villages and in Hermosillo. Through this research,...


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pp. 191-202


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pp. 203-212


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pp. 213-218

About the Author

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pp. 219-220

Series Page

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pp. 221-222

E-ISBN-13: 9780816598885
E-ISBN-10: 0816598886
Print-ISBN-13: 9780816530946
Print-ISBN-10: 0816530947

Page Count: 230
Illustrations: 1 halftone
Publication Year: 2014

OCLC Number: 874965858
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Just Between Us

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Men -- Mexico, North -- Identity.
  • Masculinity -- Mexico, North.
  • Patriarchy -- Mexico, North.
  • Intimacy (Psychology).
  • Sex role -- Mexico, North.
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