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Gender and the Negotiation of Daily Life in Mexico, 1750-1856

Sonya Lipsett-Rivera

Publication Year: 2012

History is not just about great personalities, wars, and revolutions; it is also about the subtle aspects of more ordinary matters. On a day-to-day basis the aspects of life that most preoccupied people in late eighteenth- through mid nineteenth-century Mexico were not the political machinations of generals or politicians but whether they themselves could make a living, whether others accorded them the respect they deserved, whether they were safe from an abusive husband, whether their wives and children would obey them—in short, the minutiae of daily life.

Sonya Lipsett-Rivera’s Gender and the Negotiation of Daily Life in Mexico, 1750–1856 explores the relationships between Mexicans, their environment, and one another, as well as their negotiation of the cultural values of everyday life. By examining the value systems that governed Mexican thinking of the period, Lipsett-Rivera examines the ephemeral daily experiences and interactions of the people and illuminates how gender and honor systems governed these quotidian negotiations. Bodies and the built environment were inscribed with cultural values, and the relationship of Mexicans to and between space and bodies determined the way ordinary people acted out their culture.

Published by: University of Nebraska Press

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. vii

List of Illustrations

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pp. viii

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Preface and Acknowledgments

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pp. ix-xii

This book is certainly not what I envisaged when I began the research. I started thinking about women and violence while going through packet after packet of documents simply classified by year in the Archivo Judicial...

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1. Negotiating Daily Life

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pp. 1-29

How does culture affect the way that individuals interact both with their surroundings and with others? That is the question that is at the center of this book. In our daily lives, we relate with both our physical...

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2. Space and Mexican Society

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pp. 31-67

Mexican men and women lived in particular spaces, a kind of microenvironment that surrounded them, shaped their daily lives, and defined who they were. Individuals created personas by controlling their built environment as much...

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3. Behind Closed Doors

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pp. 69-103

As Mexicans moved through their built environment, they most naturally and unconsciously read the messages that the architecture and its manipulation conveyed. This process was not necessarily a deliberate practice...

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4. Beyond the Door

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pp. 105-135

Mexicans did not just react to their built environment. They also moved about within their homes, in and out of buildings, within their urban cores, and out into the countryside. As they went from one place to another they had to be...

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5. The Body in Daily Life

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pp. 137-170

Unlike the built environment, bodies are inescapable. Even so, it can be easy to lose sight of our bodies’ significance in relation to the way that the world is constructed around us. Because of our fundamental...

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6. The Head, Honor, and Aggression

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pp. 171-209

How many people in middle-period Mexico read civility manuals? The simple answer is that it is not possible to know, but certainly the vast majority of the population was neither literate nor had...

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7. Power, Sex, Hair, and Clothes

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pp. 211-248

Aggression toward the body was the inverse of the respect that model individuals were supposed to display in their daily lives. Middle-period Mexicans, of all classes and ethnicities, were educated in the rules of politeness...

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8. Culture, Honor, and Gender in Mexico

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pp. 249-252

How conscious are we of the ways that the buildings around us and the people with whom we interact affect our lives? To a great extent, individuals probably do not give these aspects of their existence much thought unless they live in a culture...


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pp. 253-292


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pp. 293-305


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pp. 307-317

In The Mexican Experience series

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E-ISBN-13: 9780803240339
E-ISBN-10: 0803240333
Print-ISBN-13: 9780803238336

Page Count: 392
Illustrations: 11 illustrations, 1 map
Publication Year: 2012