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Sex and Sexuality in Latin America: An Interdisciplinary Reader

Daniel Balderston
Donna J. Guy
Copyright Date: 1997
Published by: NYU Press
Pages: 288
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  • Book Info
    Sex and Sexuality in Latin America
    Book Description:

    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

    eISBN: 978-0-8147-2333-3
    Subjects: Psychology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. 1 Introduction
    (pp. 1-6)
    Daniel Balderston and Donna J. Guy

    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 sexuality? This volume is an effort to open conversations among those interested in sexuality studies and Latin American studies.

    This is more than a volume about gender and sexuality. It explores the process of crossing over: crossing over visually so that apparel can disguise, reveal, determine, erase, or dynamize a particular...

  4. Part One Questioning Identities

    • 2 Guto’s Performance: Notes on the Transvestism of Everyday Life
      (pp. 9-32)
      Roger N. Lancaster

      It was early evening at the end of a typically sweltering day in Managua.¹ Aida, mycomadre, 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 careful attention to detail. It had been sent from the United States—not to Aida but to one of her coworkers by a relative living abroad.

      In Nicaragua, if commodities could speak, they’d recount peripatetic tales of endless digressions. How Aida had obtained the blouse is its own circuitous story. She had netted this enviable...

    • 3 Crossing the Border with Chabela Vargas: A Chicana Femme’s Tribute
      (pp. 33-43)
      Yvonne Yarbro-Bejarano

      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 cultural codes.² When I speak of representation, I imply producers and consumers, transmission and reception. Among the transmitters, I include both the artist Chabela Vargas and Orfeón records as marketer of the popular cultural “myth” of Chabela Vargas.

      Chabela Vargas allows me to participate in different ways in a form of popular culture that is at...

    • 4 Gender without Limits: Transvestism and Subjectivity in El lugar sin límites
      (pp. 44-62)
      Ben Sifuentes Jáuregui

      El lugar sin límitesis 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 “going to get her.” The entire day is full of anxiety, but Manuela tries to run her errands as if nothing were at all different. In the course of the day, she decides to fix her red flamenco dress, in the event that she might need it...

  5. Part Two Policing Sexuality

    • 5 Conflicting Penile Codes: Modern Masculinity and Sodomy in the Brazilian Military, 1860–1916
      (pp. 65-85)
      Peter Beattie

      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 boy.¹ Caminha’s audacious exploration of the homosexual taboo, one that also challenged racial biases, led most of his contemporaries to ostracize him. His best novel,Bom Crioulo(literally, good nigger), remains outside the canon of classic Brazilian literature.²

      It is useful to look back at Caminha’s novel for several reasons. First of all,...

    • 6 The Birth of Mangue: Race, Nation, and the Politics of Prostitution in Rio de Janeiro, 1850–1942
      (pp. 86-100)
      Sueann Caulfield

      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 state-regulated prostitution, particularly in postcolonial nations, as old-fashioned. In the late nineteenth century and early twentieth, Brazil’s desire to portray itself as a modern nation involved obscuring prostitution control in its capital city, Rio de Janeiro. How could Brazil regulate prostitution and still be considered modern? While prostitution became an astonishingly frequent topic of debate among diverse groups of public...

    • 7 Modernismo and Homophobia: Darío and Rodó
      (pp. 101-117)
      Oscar Montero

      Homosexuality has not been a prominent topic in histories and critical studies of Spanish Americanmodernismo, 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 century.¹ The two termshomosexualityandmodernismoseem to belong to two distinct traditions, two mutually exclusive branches of knowledge and cultural production. Apples and oranges, as the saying goes.Homosexualitywas one of many terms for same-sex desire created by nineteenth-century “sexual pathologists.”² Like homosexuality,modernismois an all-encompassing cultural category but, of course, in the realm of literary...

    • 8 Los Jotos: Contested Visions of Homosexuality in Modern Mexico
      (pp. 118-132)
      Rob Buffington

      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 tendencies.¹ Thus, in the criminological imagination, sexual deviance indicated criminality, which in turn threatened national political, economic, and social development. Homosexuality in particular undermined a nation’s very existence by fostering unfruitful sexual unions in an era obsessed with national reproduction and the international “struggle for life.”² Either way, the perceived need to study the problem was urgent.

      The Mexican inmate subjects of criminological study had a much different vision...

    • 9 Homosexualities in the Tropic of Revolution
      (pp. 133-152)
      José Quiroga

      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 written about, analyzed, observed. An ocean of paper circumnavigates the island, and the revolution beckons those armies of the letter relentlessly, with sometimes dramatic panache. “Come to Cuba, come to see what we have done”—so goes the inscription, popular in tourist brochures, naming a revolutionary spectacle, a pride in achievements that may not, under...

  6. Part Three Family Values

    • 10 Mothers Alive and Dead: Multiple Concepts of Mothering in Buenos Aires
      (pp. 155-173)
      Donna J. Guy

      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 of thirst on a dusty road with an infant by her side. Miraculously, her breast milk continued after her death, and the suckling and the mother were found by mule-team drivers. No one seems to know what happened to the infant, but many accounts say that he died shortly thereafter.

      The fate of the infant...

    • 11 Garzonas y Feministas in Cuban Women’s Writing of the 1920s: La vida manda by Ofelia Rodríguez Acosta
      (pp. 174-189)
      Nina Menéndez

      In April 1928 feminist columnist Mariblanca Sabas Alomá¹ wrote a series of articles in the popular weekly magazineCarteleson the subject of female homosexuality² (orgarzonismo,³ as it was called in Cuba at the time). In these articles, Sabas Alomá, speaking in the name of progressive feminism, articulates a homophobic discourse that identifies lesbianism as a social disease plaguing Cuban society and argues against those who associate it with feminist values. The terms of her discussion and the very choice of her subject matter reflect the impact on Cuban society during this period of competing discourses on feminism, “free...

    • 12 Excluded Middle? Bisexuality in Doña Herlinda y su hijo
      (pp. 190-199)
      Daniel Balderston

      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 wordbisexualto describe the character Rodolfo, the son inDoña Herlinda y su hijo(Doña Herlinda and her son).¹ In one of those comments from the audience for which one is forever grateful, someone (still unknown to me) asked where the bisexuality was in Rodolfo and in the film. I had thought the answer was transparent because by the end of the film he is married and the father of...

    • 13 Multiple Masculinities: The Worlds of Tango and Football in Argentina
      (pp. 200-216)
      Eduardo P. Archetti

      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 another export. Over the years, tango and football have become representative of performing Argentines and a pervasive global image of “genuine” Argentine cultural products. Very few Argentines will deny that tango and football certainly played and still play the double role of public mirrors and models of masculinities.

      Cornwall and Lindisfarne observe that different images and behaviors...

  7. Part Four Redefinitions

    • 14 Gender, Dress, and Market: The Commerce of Citizenship in Latin America
      (pp. 219-233)
      Francine Masiello

      In August 1994 visual artist Juan Dávila caused a minor scandal when reproductions of his painting of Simon Bolívar 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 exposed the breasts of a woman. This camp representation of one of South America’s most revered founding fathers drew immediate protests from Venezuelan and Colombian diplomats and irritated Chilean officials. As a result, FONDART, the sponsoring organization of fellowships for Chilean artists, rejected Dávila’s petition for funding and refused to entertain future proposals from individual applicants....

    • 15 “What a Tangled Web!”: Masculinity, Abjection, and the Foundations of Puerto Rican Literature in the United States
      (pp. 234-249)
      Arnaldo Cruz-Malavé

      Hovering like some rare bird over land and sea, the protagonist of the Puerto Rican Luis Rafael Sánchez’s tale of foundations, “¡Jum!” (Hm!), straddles the village’s border.¹ But with his ass “pressed tight enough to choke his buttocks,”² the “sissy … the queer … the queen” who is the protagonist in the villagers’ taunts is not just a sign for a monstrous other. He is rathertheopening that, in an allegory reminiscent of Octavio Paz’s myth of national origins,³ allows for permeability, for penetration. Neither masculine nor feminine affiliation, institutional ritual nor gossip sustains his identity. Instead, his shifting...

    • 16 From Sappho to Baffo: Diverting the Sexual in Alejandra Pizarnik
      (pp. 250-258)
      Sylvia Molloy

      In a mock table of contents for herLa bucanem de Pernambuco, o Hilda la polígrafa(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 Baffo).¹ Like Muriel Rukeyser’s hortatory “Not Sappho, Sacco,” in “Poem Out of Childhood,”² Pizarnik’s mock dedication swerves from Sappho through phonetic repetition and distortion, even as it names her. Rukeyser’s swerve points to the political; in effect, her full declaration reads: “Not Sappho, Sacco. / Rebellion pioneering among our lives.” No less rebellious, Pizarnik chooses, however, the farcical...

  8. 17 Bibliography of Gender and Sexuality Studies on Latin America
    (pp. 259-277)
    Daniel Balderston and Donna J. Guy
  9. Contributors
    (pp. 278-280)
  10. Index
    (pp. 281-288)
  11. Back Matter
    (pp. 289-289)