PECHENY Mario Martin
congresos y reuniones científicas
State and sexual politics in Latin America: the challenges of breaking through
Conferencia; VIII IASSCS Conference. International Association for the Study of Sexuality, Culture and Society; 2011
Institución organizadora:
Universidad Complutense de Madrid - IASSCS
This paper presents a critical assessment of contemporary sexual politics in Latin America based on the discussions at the Dialogue. Needless to say, the very notion of “Latin America” poses significant dilemmas for analysis, running the risk of obscuring vastly different social and sexual landscapes among and within the nations comprising the region. Indeed, a significant body of ethnographic research has underscored precisely a heterogeneity in the social organization of and meanings attached to sexual desire, the body, gender, and reproduction, particularly locating differences across regional, racial, ethnic, and class boundaries. These differences themselves raise questions about the limits of a sexual politics carried out through the formal structures of national or international public spheres and indeed about the limits of emerging democratic polities more broadly, which we consider below. Here, we simply note that in presenting what follows we do not seek to offer an exhaustive account of sexual politics in the region but rather to highlight significant trends identified at the Dialogue to provide a basis for ongoing discussion. The purpose of this text, then, is to describe social and historical processes as well as approaches to analyzing these processes. When thinking of sexuality and politics in Latin America, we should recognize that we are talking about societies and political regimes that are still strongly State-centered, i.e. in which the State has played a key role in the constitution of political and social actors and rules. The analytical category of governmentality (gouvernementalité), that we take from Foucault, while opening perspectives toward other institutions and technologies of administration, should nonetheless not blind us to the State’s continued centrality in the region. Having said that, the Latin American State is not a monolithic entity, but “cacophonic” or even “schizophrenic” (Muñiz). With all its facets, the very State that guarantees the rule of law and human rights may be responsible for ignoring them through its actions or omissions as well as for the non-recognition of rights and sexual practices and subjects, and even of murder and violence (to women, to LGBT people…).