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Sex and Sexuality in Latin America

An Interdisciplinary Reader

Daniel Balderston, Donna Guy

Publication Year: 1997

Despite the explosion of critical writing on gender and sexuality, relatively little work has focused on Latin America. Sex and Sexuality in Latin America: An Interdisciplinary Readerfills in this gap. Daniel Balderston and Donna J. Guy assert that the study of sexuality in Latin America requires a break with the dominant Anglo-European model of gender. To this end, the essays in the collection focus on the uncertain and contingent nature of sexual identity.

Organized around three central themes--control and repression; the politics and culture of resistance; and sexual transgression as affirmation of marginalized identities--this intriguing collection will challenge and inform conceptions of Latin American gender and sexuality. Covering topics ranging from transvestism to the world of tango, and countries as diverse as Mexico, Brazil, and Argentina, this volume takes an accessible, dynamic, and interdisciplinary approach to a highly theoretical topic.

"Opens up new conceptual horizons for exploring gender and sexuality. . . . In stimulating readers to think 'outside the box' of established academic notions of sexuality and gender, Sex and Sexuality in Latin America illustrates the sometimes mind-boggling mission of iconoclastic scholarship. The well-written essays are thought-provoking analyses on the cutting edge of gender scholarship."
—Latin American Research Review, vol. 36, no. 3, 2001

Published by: NYU Press

Title Page

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Copyright Page

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pp. vii-viii

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1. Introduction

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pp. 1-6

Are sex and sexuality embedded solely in the body, or are they linked to mind, culture, race, and ethnicity? Are sex and sexuality different in Latin America than in other parts of the world? Can we talk about any aspect of Latin America without including consideration of gender and...

Part One: Questioning Identities

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pp. 7-61

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2. Guto's Performance: Notes on the Transvestism of Everyday Life

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pp. 9-32

It was early evening at the end of a typically sweltering day in Managua.1 Aida, my comadre, had returned home from work with an exquisite rarity in Nicaragua's devastated economy: a new blouse, a distinctly feminine blouse, soft to the touch, with good threadwork and...

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3. Crossing the Border with Chabela Vargas: A Chicana Femme's Tribute

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pp. 33-43

In her public lesbian identification and performance style, singer Chabela Vargas creates a space for a U.S. Latina lesbian reading within Mexican and Latin-American popular music.1 In this essay, I wish to focus on a specific strategy of cultural representation, that of "queering" heterosexual...

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4. Gender without Limits: Transvestism and Subjectivity in El lugar sin limites

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pp. 44-61

El lugar sin limites is a simple story, indeed.1 A cold Sunday, in the middle of nowhere, the famed madam la Manuela learns that the very macho Pancho Vega has returned to town. A year earlier he had tried to beat her but failed; the rumor now was that this time he was...

Part Two: Policing Sexuality

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pp. 63-151

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5. Conflicting Penile Codes: Modern Masculinity and Sodomy in the Brazilian Military, 1860-1916

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pp. 65-85

In 1895 former navy officer, ardent republican, and novelist Adolfo Caminha shocked Brazilian readers by deftly using his knowledge of navy life to produce a detailed romance between a black man who escaped slavery only to be pressed into navy service and a blond-haired, blue-eyed fifteen-year-old cabin...

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6. The Birth of Mangue: Race, Nation, and the Politics of Prostitution in Rio de Janeiro, 1850-1942

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pp. 86-100

From the early nineteenth century until the 1860s, many European countries promoted state regulation of prostitution to control the spread of venereal disease during wartime. Others wanted to identify deviant women in rapidly urbanizing areas. Thereafter moral reform campaigns targeted...

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7. Modernismo and Homophobia: Dar

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pp. 101-117

Homosexuality has not been a prominent topic in histories and critical studies of Spanish American modernismo, in the way that the topic of so-called sexual deviance has been studied in recent work on English and American literatures of the nineteenth...

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8. Los Jotos: Contested Visions of Homosexuality in Modern Mexico

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pp. 118-132

For late-nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century Mexican criminologists, sexual deviance of any kind was unnatural, antisocial, and linked to innate criminality; criminals constituted an identifiable class with distinct traits that included atavistic homosexual...

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9. Homosexualities in the Tropic of Revolution

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pp. 133-151

Few countries in Latin America have been as swamped as Cuba by so many who have chronicled the island to itself and to the world: sociologists, economists, political scientists, tourists, filmmakers, critics, historians. Since 1959 the Cuban Revolution and all of its aspects have been...

Part Three: Family Values

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pp. 153-216

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10. Mothers Alive and Dead: Multiple Concepts of Mothering in Buenos Aires

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pp. 155-173

Mothering has many meanings for Argentines. Some beliefs stem from popular culture and are linked to a higher value placed on birthing than on raising a child. According to popular Argentine religious lore, between 1820 and 1860 in San Juan province, Dalinda Antonia Correa died...

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11. Garzonas y Feministas in Cuban Women's Writing of the 1920s: La vida manda by Ofelia Rodriguez Acosta

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pp. 174-189

In April 1928 feminist columnist Mariblanca Sabas Aloma1 wrote a series of articles in the popular weekly magazine Carteles on the subject of female homosexuality2 (or garzonismo3 as it was called in Cuba at the time). In these articles, Sabas Aloma, speaking in the name of progressive...

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12. Excluded Middle?: Bisexuality in Do

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pp. 190-199

In late 1994 I gave a paper on the cinema of Jaime Humberto Hermosillo at the queer studies conference at the University of Iowa, and in it used the word bisexual to describe the character Rodolfo, the son in Dona Herlinda y su hijo (Dona Herlinda and her...

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13. Multiple Masculinities: The Worlds of Tango and Football in Argentina

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pp. 200-216

This chapter focuses on the meanings of masculinity displayed in classical tango texts and in football arenas.1 Since the end of the 1920s Argentine exports to Europe and the world have included tango music, choreography, singers, and musicians. Football (soccer) players have been...

Part Four: Redefinitions

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pp. 217-277

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14: Gender, Dress, and Market: The Commerce of Citizenship in Latin America

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pp. 219-233

In August 1994 visual artist Juan Davila caused a minor scandal when reproductions of his painting of Simon Bolivar in drag circulated throughout Chile. The "Liberator" of Spanish America was portrayed with rouge and lipstick; beneath a flowered cape and a military uniform, he...

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15. "What a Tangled Web!": Masculinity, Abjection, and the Foundations of Puerto Rican Literature in the United States

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pp. 234-249

Hovering like some rare bird over land and sea, the protagonist of the Puerto Rican Luis Rafael Sanchez's tale of foundations, " Juml" (Hm!), straddles the village's border.1 But with his ass "pressed tight enough to choke his...

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16. From Sappho to Baffo: Diverting the Sexual in Alejandra Pizarnik

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pp. 250-258

In a mock table of contents for her La bucanem de Pernambuco, o Hilda la poligrafa (The pirate of Pernambuco, or Hilda the polygraph), Alejandra Pizarnik cites a section of that text as dedicated "A Safo y a Baffo" (To Sappho and...

17. Bibliography of Gender and Sexuality Studies on Latin America

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pp. 259-277


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pp. 278-279


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pp. 281-288

E-ISBN-13: 9780814723333
E-ISBN-10: 0814723330
Print-ISBN-13: 9780814712900
Print-ISBN-10: 0814712908

Page Count: 304
Publication Year: 1997

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Sex role -- Latin America.
  • Sex in literature.
  • Sex in motion pictures.
  • Sex -- Latin America.
  • Sex customs -- Latin America.
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