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"Estamos en todas partes:" male homosexuality, nation, and modernity in twentieth century Mexico

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Title: "Estamos en todas partes:" male homosexuality, nation, and modernity in twentieth century Mexico
Author(s): Jones, Ryan
Director of Research: Jacobsen, Nils
Doctoral Committee Chair(s): Jacobsen, Nils
Doctoral Committee Member(s): Burton, Antoinette; Micale, Mark; Manalansan, Martin; Olcott, Jocelyn
Department / Program: History
Discipline: History
Degree Granting Institution: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Degree: Ph.D.
Genre: Dissertation
Subject(s): Mexico nationhood citizenship homosexuality masculinity Mexico City Islas Marías social history cultural history political culture modernity urbanization twentieth-century history
Abstract: In broad strokes my research investigates the intersections between the nation, citizenship, masculinity, and culture as engaged through the lenses of gender, sexuality, and transnational flows of ideas and people. My project is a genealogy of what Mexican citizenship has and has not included as told through discourses on homosexuality and the experiences of homosexuals, a group that for the majority of the 20th century were largely excluded from full citizenship. This did not mean homosexuals were unimportant; on the contrary, they were the foils against which the ideal Mexican could be defined and participants in both democracy and citizenship through their negation. The experiences and challenges faced by homosexuals illuminate the great, if gradual shift, from exclusive definitions of citizenship towards more universal forms of citizenship, however flawed, found in Mexico’s current multiculturalism. In fact, homosexuals’ trajectory from a maligned anti-Mexican group to representatives of pluralist democracy by the late 1970s sheds important light on how Mexico shifted from oligarchy through paternalist state-interventionism towards more participatory politics and towards an understanding of citizenship that incorporated pride parades as Mexican and homosexuals as worthy of state-sanctioned marriage by 2009, even as the structural causes of homophobia remained. Moreover, the convergences between local realities, national aspirations, and transnational flows of culture and ideas—all of which were fundamental in post-revolutionary Mexican nation-building—are best understood in relation to homosexuality. This work has two interrelated objectives: first to reconstruct queer Mexican men’s lived experiences and second, to interrogate how effeminate homosexuals became not only popular cultural foils, but also crucial “others” against which Mexican national identity—as exemplified by the masculine patriarch—was defined. I thus examine Mexican queer sexuality in two registers: as a social historical formation of queer male identities and communities, and as a cultural historical articulation of Mexican national identity. I argue that the very category of “queer Mexican (man),” created as a pathology by social reformers, medical experts, and jurists, was foundational to the longue durée of political debates on citizenship and civil rights. Homosexuality was a key concern both in the formation of national identity, cultural icons, and ideologies that had far-reaching consequences, as well as for cultural, political, and medical-juridical authorities seeking to fashion Mexican modernity. As Mexican democracy was shaped through revolution, war, socio-cultural engineering, politics, and social movements, the line between those included and excluded from participation in that democracy remained unstable. This meant that what constituted a good citizen also shifted over time. Even so, at its core the dominant publicized ideal of the ideal Mexican citizen remained male, hetereosexual, hard-working in industry or agriculture, and a family provider. Between 1920 and 1960, the Mexican government embarked on an effort to solidify the nation through the propagation of this ideal citizen through propaganda, public art, education, cinema, and even Mexican-style wrestling. At the same time, numerous Mexicans resisted these definitions. For their part, homosexuals, rather than being obscured in the proverbial closet, challenged their exclusion and asserted that they were in fact model, law-abiding citizens, not anti-social delinquents, sinners, or criminals. In this way, their efforts foreshadowed the democratic opening that would accelerate in the late 1960s and beyond, as well as the eventual granting of more rights—including marriage—to LGBT individuals in the capital by 2009.
Issue Date: 2012-09-18
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/2142/34522
Rights Information: Copyright 2012 Ryan Michael Jones
Date Available in IDEALS: 2012-09-18
Date Deposited: 2012-08
 

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