restricted access Imperial Detritus and the Project of Modernity: Sexuality, Honor, and Power in the Bedroom and the Courtroom in El Salvador, 1910–1960


At the dawn of the twentieth century, global forces were transforming El Salvador, providing young women with more economic opportunities and greater mobility. Female legal minors sought to establish their own homes, in the face of parental restrictions and prohibitions. They sought sexual freedom, even as economic and political changes encouraged their families to use the courts to strengthen parental authority and demanded honor that had been long denied to poor and working-class Salvadorans. These contradictory processes played out in hundreds of rapto and estupro, or seduction and deflowering cases from the 1910s to the 1960s. Although these social changes were the product of very specific economic and demographic changes, these legal conflicts over sexuality were not only reproduced in nations, colonies, and territories throughout the world, but reflected larger forces that affected young women and their families all around the globe.