1 DE AMOR NADIE SE MUERE : THE WORKINGS OF RACE, SEXUALITY, AND GENDER IN U.S. NICARAGUAN RELATIONSHIPS By MOLLY GREEN A THESIS PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQU IREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTS UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA 2013
2 2013 Molly Green
3 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS This thesis would not have been possible without the guidance of Dr. Florence Babb through the entirety of the research and writing process. I thank her for her unfailing support and patience throughout the entire process. She is truly an inspiration for what mentorship and teaching can be. I want to thank Dr. Faye V. Harrison for her support given through serving on my commi ttee and for her contributions to my academic career through exposing me to new also want to thank Dr. Carmen Diana Deere for serving on my committee and her suggestions which have undoubtedly made my thesis stronger. Gender Research for their support which made this research and my time as a student possible and enjoyable. In particular, I thank Donna Tuckey for dealing with the practical side of my appointment, making it possible for me to focus on academics. I also thank the women at IXCHEN Masaya for giving me institutional and personal support throughout my years of living in Nicaragua and during my return to conduct research. The strength of these women and their community work is inspiring. Finally, I want to thank the strong women in my life. In particular, Gina Alvarado re ways than possible to mention here and for the support of Kelly Korman, Lauren Smith, and Tiffany Lee through the difficult writing period.
4 TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 3 ABSTRACT ................................ ................................ ................................ ..................... 6 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION ................................ ................................ ................................ ...... 8 Methodology ................................ ................................ ................................ ........... 15 The Influence of Gender in Shaping Research ................................ ....................... 21 2 A REVIEW OF RELEVANT LITERATURE: THE ARTICULATION OF RACE AND SEX, SEX TOURISM, AND THE NICARAGUAN CONTEXT ......................... 25 ce of Race and Sex in Tourism ................ 25 Intimate Encounters: Sex and Romance Tourism ................................ ................... 28 The Nicaraguan Case: An Articulation of Hegemon ic Norms around Race, Sex, and Gender ................................ ................................ ................................ .......... 34 3 CONTEXTUALIZING THE STUDY: HISTORICAL AND CONTEMPORARY PERSPECTIVES ON NICARAGUAN SEXUALITY ................................ ................ 39 Race, Sex, and Revolution ................................ ................................ ..................... 39 Come to Granada, Have a Good Time: Examining the Character of Granada ....... 46 Cheleros and Che litas ................................ ................................ ............................. 49 4 THE ARTICULATION OF POWER: CONTRADICTIONS AND STRATEGIES OF DOMINATION AND RESISTANCE ................................ ................................ ... 53 Navigating the Politics of E veryday Life: Liminality and Cultural Competency ........ 55 Who Wears the Pants? Exploring the Articulation of Power ................................ ... 58 5 RACIAL DIFFERE NCE AS CULTURAL CAPITAL: THE PLACE OF RACE AND SEX IN CONSTRUCTING COSMOPOLITAN IDENTITIES ................................ .... 74 Whiteness ................................ ................................ ................................ ............ 76 The Tired Tropes of the Latin Lover: Global North Perspectives on Global South Sexuality ................................ ................................ ................................ .............. 87 Shifting Subjectivities through an Encounter w ith the Other ................................ ... 93 6 CONCLUSION: CIRCULATING MYTHS AND DEHUMANIZING DISCOURSES .. 98 ................................ ..... 98
5 Stigmatizing and Essentializing the Chelero ................................ ......................... 101 Love and Respect: The Reinterpretation of Colonial Discourses .......................... 104 LIST OF REFERENCES ................................ ................................ ............................. 106 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH ................................ ................................ .......................... 110
6 Abstract of Thesis Presented to the Graduate Schoo l of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts DE AMOR NADIE SE MUERE : THE WORKINGS OF RACE, SEXUALITY, AND GENDER IN U.S. NICARAGUAN RELATIONSHIPS By Molly Green May 2013 Cha ir: Florence Babb Major: This thesis aims to generate knowledge and discussion about the relationships between Nicaraguan men (frequently referred to as cheleros ) and white women from the Un ited States (often called chelas ) in Granada, Nicaragua. Although a number of feminist scholars and anthropologists have examined relationships between men of Latin America and the Caribbean and female visitors to those areas, there is little written on re lationships between Nicaraguan men and U.S. women. The goal of this research is to contribute to these broader conversations on romance and sex tourism and to bring attention to the particulars of the Nicaraguan context. This thesis explores the ways in wh ich relationships between white U.S. women and Nicaraguan men disrupt the easy assumptions about flows of power between these groups, revealing how gender privilege on the side of the men and economic and racial privilege on the side of the women are negot relationships reflect the racialization of desire, (re)producing and informing the sexual stereotypes of white women and of Nicaraguan men. Additionally, participants are able to access a source of cultural capital through the bodies of their partners, allowing individuals to change their social positioning within the terms of their relationships.
7 Finally, I argue that these relationships inform the myths that circulate about the other within Nica raguan and U.S. society, in turn affecting the social positioning of the other within each society.
8 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION My interest in examining the romantic relationships forming between women from the United States and Nicaraguan men in the cont ext of Nicaraguan society developed over the years in which I lived in Nicaragua, from 2009 to 2011. Through sharing stories and observations with others, I gradually came to realize that these relationships were not purely the results of chance encounters and mutual attraction, but rather largely events and experiences in particular stand out as moments when I became abruptly aware of how otherness and identity were actively constructed in this context, while simultaneously naturalized and rendered invisible, by those within or seeking relationships with the other. The first moment the significance of these intimate encounters struck me occurred about eight months after arri ving in Nicaragua and shortly after I moved into a small house in Masaya with a female member of the Peace Corps who had recently finished her initial training. After a sweltering day in Masaya, five or six of my d around the kitchen table on our flimsy plastic chairs, sharing liters of the popular national beer Toa and stories of how we had already managed to embarrass ourselves as foreigners, when the conversation turned toward Nicaraguan men. A majority of the women present exclaimed that they would certainly have a Nicaraguan boyfriend, despite many professing general feelings of
9 ambivalence toward Nicaraguan men as they described negatively experiencing sexism and machismo in ways particular to white U.S. wome n. 1 This scene suggests how quickly these women had become aware of the power that their bodies, decidedly marked as part of the Global North by their skin color and dress, held in terms of capturing the attention of the other. Additionally, through goss iping about potential love interests, they commented on how the desirability of Nicaraguan men was contingent on their performance of difference and their ability to help these women navigate a foreign society. These men served not only as a means to exper ience difference, but as a way to distinguish them from their female friends at home, in a sense providing them with an important source of highly visible cultural capital marking them as worldly and cosmopolitan. Furthermore, as these women discussed thei r daily struggles in living within a different society, they were highlighting their liminal status as foreigners. This suggests that despite economic or racial privilege their perceived vulnerability, were willing to establish relationships with people in Nicaragua with whom they would not typically have interacted at home (such as men that they perceived as sexist). Many of these women did find Nicaraguan boyfriends in the following months and, through stories reaching me by way of the never ceasing gossip connecting these women together, I was able to access partial information on the motivations of each woman for choosing a particular man and to track her story across time. Although each 1 cumbersome. In these place and South America as well.
10 relationship played out differently, undoubtedly influenced by regional differences among men as well as the personalities of the participants, taken together these relationships highlighted the complexities of power dynamics between lo cals and foreigners and sparked my initial interest in exploring the significance of international and interracial relationships. My research addresses some of the questions arising from my observations of these relationships and from stories of sexual ex ploits and romantic encounters related to me by both Nicaraguan men and U.S. women. Roughly divided into two areas of (overlapping) interest, my first question revolves around how relationships between Nicaraguan men and white, U.S. women disrupt the assum ptions about flows of power between these individuals based on racial and economic privilege on the side of the women and gendered privilege of the men. My second question deals with how these relationships reflect (and shape) racial discourses, in turn af fecting the social positioning of the other in wider society and revealing the erotic value of difference. More specifically, I argue that the romantic relationships between Nicaraguan men and U.S. women are significant in terms of commenting on flows of complex and on the construction and negotiation of identity and desire arising from the intersections appears to be unimportant in structuring attraction and ideologies of beauty, I argue that discourses and ideologies of race are central to informing the shape of these relationships within Nicaragua, although couched in the
11 central to my argument that these relationships provide a way to access the difference of the other and to thereby mark oneself as a modern and cosmopolitan individual knowledgeable of other systems of cultural and racial expression. As cultural capital is consolidated through intimate encounters with the other it becomes embodied, constructing shifts in subjectivity and changing social positi oning. These identity changes then become part of larger social patterns in which Nicaraguan men and U.S. women become marked in certain ways within both Nicaraguan and U.S. society. In terms of wider society, I suggest that these relationships also struct ure the place of the other in the social imaginary of the U.S. and of Nicaragua. This, in turn, societal vectors, but rather deserving of exploration in their own righ t and revealing of the intersectionalities among gender, race, class, and sexuality. By examining these relationships, I hope to contribute to discourses of race and sexuality and to explore what it means to be a young, cosmopolitan citizen of a rapidly gl obalizing world. While my own experiences will be peripheral to the stories of those I interviewed, these merit attention briefly as both my positionality within the field and my initial interest in this topic were informed by experiences prior to engagin g in field research. I chose to conduct research in the city of Granada not only because of its status as a primary tourist destination, but also because of both my familiarity with the city and the relationships that I had established during my year and a half teaching in a Granadino operated English school from January of 2010 to June of 2011. During this period I daily boarded the bus from the nearby town of Masaya to travel to Granada crammed in the child sized seats next to the street vendors weighed d own by their baskets mounded
12 with sugary pastries, students animated by an afternoon of freedom, and various commuters returning to their homes in the campo between Masaya and Granada. After several hours of teaching, an invaluable time in which my studen ts shared with me their stories and commentary on Nicaraguan life, I would cross the city to spend an hour with another group of students in their home. The daily walk across Granada, compounded by the numerous discussions in class with students about loca l society, afforded me time to observe patterns of activity, and to learn about spacial structuring of the city, including who inhabited certain places at different times of the day. I learned that the physical landscape of Granada was divided into semi pe rmeable spaces with some seeming to belong to the tourists and others mainly inhabited by locals. These boundaries were largely structured by social norms related to economic inequalities, gendered roles, and racialized and classed expectations. I found it interesting that certain actors, particularly Nicaraguan men with young foreign women, were able to become border crossers while others largely remained in their socially assigned spheres. My interactions with several Nicaraguan men prior to my fieldwork were integral to shaping the assumptions that I later carried to the field. While I acknowledge that many Nicaraguan men intentionally counter the stereotype of being machista by purposefully behaving respectfully toward women in public and private spaces I consistently experienced sexism on the streets as I was subjected daily to catcalls and unwanted touches. Additionally, after forging what I thought were several friendships with Nicaraguan men, I realized that we had different perspectives on the mean ing of our relationship. While I perhaps naively considered them simply friends, they made
13 their expectations of a romantic relationship known after we had known each other for several weeks. The first time that this happened I assumed that it was a misund erstanding. However, after this occurred with five different men I began to view their desires for a romantic relationship as the result of the expectations that these men carried, informed by their experiences with other young gringas in Granada. These in teractions caused me to essentialize men unknown to me as machistas, a stereotype that frequently led me to distrust unknown men -something that I was forced to confront upon undertaking fieldwork. Aside from my interactions with casual acquaintances and m en on the street, my on and off relationship of nearly two and a half years with a Nicaraguan American (as he identifies himself) man, I will call Kevin 2 greatly influenced my interest in the topic and permitted me to access an insider perspective. Althou gh born in Nicaragua, Kevin spent his late childhood and adolescence in Florida and identifies as both Nicaraguan and American, at times expressing frustration over his positioning as an outsider within aragua. Because of his distinctly North American style of dress, and my presence at his side, many mistook him as a foreigner while others assumed that he was puro pinolero (an expression used to evoke a purely Nicaraguan identity). Although I was largely unaware of what sparked his initial attraction to me, it later became clear through his daily comments that my whiteness was integral to constructing his desire. Although painful, it was perhaps the result of my research findings, which led to greater awar eness of the racialized, sexualized, and 2 I chose to use fictitious names for all of my inte rviewees to protect their identities as many were generous enough to share intimate details and painful moments of their lives that I assume they would prefer to remain anonymous.
14 gendered underpinnings of my personal relationship, that caused me to end our relationship shortly after returning from the field. Through navigating my own relationship I was able to (partially) understand the expe riences that many of my interviewees (both U.S. women and Nicaraguan men) shared with me. Although I was diligent in stripping myself of my assumptions before each interview to avoid the blurring of my experiences with theirs, I undoubtedly carried certain expectations to the interview. Additionally, Kevin frequently accompanied me to bars and nightclubs, causing my social positioning to shift as I was marked as an insider. He also accompanied me to several interviews, primarily so that I would not have to ride back in a taxi alone from Granada to Masaya late at night, which caused several informants to become jealous or irritated although he sat across the room out of hearing distance. The ways that his presence caused annoyance on the part of my interviewe es reflected not only their interest in me romantically, despite making it clear to them that this was an interview for research, but also the ways that masculinity and machismo function within Nicaraguan society. However, my personal relationship was als o frequently an advantage, ensuring that rapport was easily constructed between myself and my interviewees as they felt comfortable sharing their experiences with someone whom they saw as similar to themselves. In general, my previous connections to Nicara gua greatly facilitated my understandings of daily life and therefore my ability to access interviewees during the period in which I undertook research. However, these connections also restricted my research in certain ways by partially structuring whom I was able (or willing) to approach to ask for interviews, as I relied heavily on networks of friends and acquaintances during
15 my first month of research to connect me with those Nicaraguan men and U.S. women willing to share their stories. Moreover, I carri ed some emotional baggage to the field because of my past interactions with Nicaraguan men, and this undoubtedly shaped my interviews and observations despite my attempts to move beyond my personal experiences. Methodology My research was carried out over the course of roughly ten weeks in the 43.1% of the one million tourists visiting in 2010 (INTUR) Although these 43.1% were marked officially upon arrival as tour ists, the system of classification used to deal with foreigners fails to truly track their activities within the country. The options for travel without permanent resid ency or formal business agendas into the category of tourist. This false category is important as most of the visitors to Nicaragua whom I interviewed were not self described tourists, but rather interns for various NGOs, students in Spanish schools, or vo lunteers who had already lived for relatively long periods of time in country. However, despite the problems in differentiating between tourists and volunteers, Granada draws large numbers of visitors, which largely structures the social spaces of the city and the relationships between locals and foreigners. I chose to conduct individual semi formal interviews, coupled with methods of participant observation, to engage feminist methods of research that generally emphasize approaches of self reflexivity, r eciprocity between the researcher and the researched, and acknowledgement of the subjective nature of th e research process (Stacey 1988, 22; Wolf 1992, 137). Despite concerns that feminist ethnography may
16 methods are useful in blurring essentialist dichotomies between self and other and for dismantling the illusion of objective research (Stacey 1988, 22). This in turn allows researchers to access and acknowledge those elus ive partial truths and knowledges, constructing an ethnographic account that is rooted in context and that acknowledges contradictions, complexities, and nuances (Stacey 1988, 22, 26). Because of the difficulties inherent in my situatedness as a cultural i nsider to some degree, stemming from my experiences navigating my relationship with a Nicaraguan, I use reflexivity in an attempt to researcher to cause a paradigm shift that has the potential to influence a symbolic 6). Feminist methods, both in data collection and ethnographic writing, have been used with the aim of deconstructing the power structures between the researcher and the researched, attempting to crea te more egalitarian and less exploitative ways of structuring knowledge. I visited areas where locals and foreigners meet, primarily the main street running from the central park to the Lake Cocibolca, called La Calle Calzada, where a number of restaurant s and bars are located. Daily, as the sun sets, tourists and locals gather in outside seating at the restaurants to enjoy inexpensive national beers or a pricey meal depending, of course, on the socioeconomic status of the individual or group. Stretching f or several blocks between towering colonial style buildings where the restaurants are located, a wide cobblestoned pathway brings together Nicaraguans and tourists, as foreigner and local engage each other in various ways from Nicaraguan
17 children weaving i n an d out of the tables selling cigarettes and gum to casual conversations and exchanges of stories aided by liters of beer. Another area where foreigners and locals meet with certain expectations on both sides is a block off of the Calzada where two bar/n ightclubs have recently opened, providing a place for local and foreign youth to meet, drink, and dance. As several young Nicaraguans to meet foreigners and a way to begin r elationships. Through visiting these places, I was able to see how encounters between locals and foreigners are structured by physical spaces and how certain patterns of behavior and strategies of engagement have been adopted, particularly by local Nicarag uan men, to increase the chances of a meeting young foreign women. Over the course of my formal research period in Nicaragua, I conducted 29 semi formal interviews, with each interview lasting approximately one hour. Of these 29 individuals, 15 were wome n from the United States and 14 were Nicaraguan men. During the interviews, I asked questions both about personal experiences and about general observations pertaining to race/racism, class, and sexuality. The method of asking personal and abstract questio ns encouraged the individual to link his or her personal experiences to larger social processes, providing me with insight into how they viewed society and culture, and how their lives reflected wider social structures. The men I spoke with, contacted thro ugh snowball sampling, were a much more diverse group than suggested by the stereotype of a chelero, 3 a word frequently used to 3 identifi ed as a chelero, but rather pointed out to me the problematic assumptions that this word evokes and the ways that it is leveraged Moreover, the nuances around this word are not a main focus here, and I instead
18 describe those Nicaraguan men considered to be seducers of foreign white women, with some decidedly falling outside of the stere otypes, while others appeared to conform because of their professions, appearance, and acquaintances. The ages of the 14 men I spoke with ranged from early twenties to mid forties and worked as street artisans, in free trade zones, in the tourist sector, a nd as students. Of those men that were comfortable speaking about race, all identified as part of the mestizo population, grouping themselves in the category of moreno Out of these 14 men, eight had dated or were currently dating a foreign woman. Another of the younger men had never formed a stable relationship with a foreigner, but recounted several of his one night encounters with foreign women and during my ten weeks in Nicaragua became briefly involved with another foreign woman. The men that I intervi ewed who had not dated a foreign woman were important for providing me with a perspective from the community at large, allowing me to see how these relationships are viewed by men who are decidedly outsiders to the chelero stereotype and who generally have little contact with foreigners. All of the men were native Granadinos except for one of the two artisans, who had moved to Granada because of the opportunities afforded by the tourists arriving in increasing numbers to this city. Additionally, all of the men (except the artisans) traveled very little, having established strong roots in Granada. The artisans, on the other hand, lived a more transient lifestyle, frequently traveling to other tourist destinations for a change of pace, to meet new people, and for the opportunity to work within a different local market. The two men working within the free trade zones were unfamiliar with the unable to capture the identities of the men who seek foreign women in its static and monolithic representation of identity.
19 word chelero most likely because of their age and because for some time before our meeting they remained closer to their homes and to their families as fathers and partners of Nicaraguan women. A third man, a graphic designer in the nearby town of Masaya, was also decidedly not a chelero, comparing himself to my boyfriend -whom he perceived as in some ways embodying a cheler o identity -and questioning how I society differently than the artisans and the men working in tourism (who reflected more characteristics of what it means to be a chelero even if they rejected that term), limiting their interactions with foreign women as they worked in a more closed environment. In turn, they conformed little to the expectations of cheleros in their manner of dress and probably would have not been called a chelero if they had been seen with a gringa on the street. Of the remaining men who had dated or were dating foreign women, all embodied the identity of a chelero in various ways. However, there were similarities among these men such as a more frequent presence on the street or in bars and either a manner of dress similar to young men from the United States -jeans, sneakers, and a t shirt in place of the typical collared shirt, slacks, and leather shoes worn by --ponytails or flip flops and shorts which shock many Nicaraguans in their fastidious style of dress. Despite the differences among these men, the word chelero is relevant to understanding how these men are perceived by wider society and for understandi ng how patterns in behavior and lifestyle, while essentialized by this word, are also captured by the word chelero. In other words, those who are frequently referred to as cheleros, in a certain way, embody the
20 meanings of this word. Although there is no q uintessential chelero, the word has come to reflect a certain lifestyle; including activities, work profession, and style of dress that capture what it means to be a chelero. Turning to the women interviewed, while their identities were also inevitably to o complex to be fully captured or understood through a simple breaking down of demographics, it is important to my research to understand where these women came from, their ages, their claims to a sexual, racialized, or gendered identity, and the patterns that they shared across these differences. Because of my method of sampling, both snowball sampling and approaching random individuals on the street or in bars, of the 15 women interviewed from the United States only six had participated in a relationship with a Nicaraguan. While th e conversations with the other eight women were useful for contextualizing my study, in my ethnographic section I focus on the interviews with the women who were dating a Nicaraguan man. All the women, at least in the interviews seemed to identify as heterosexual though I chose not to ask this question directly, preferring rather for the interviewee to offer up this information through personal stories and experiences. Whereas the men I interviewed flattened their race to the n ational imagined identity of mestizo, the women had more intricate understandings of race and were more willing to interrogate their own positioning on the racial hierarchy. Two of these 15 women identified themselves as mixed race (and ethnically mixed as well) as one of their parents came from a country outside of the United States and one parent was also identified as non white. Another identified as Asian American although she expressed ositioning and to her
21 from the United States appear to be a relatively homogenous group in their college educations, middle class identifications, (mostly) white skin, and he terosexual orientations, it is clear that identity is more than a sum of these factors, but rather is influenced by exchanges with others and informed by experiences. The Influence of Gender in Shaping Research Differing patterns of participation in an int erview along gendered lines developed, perhaps stemming from the methods of research I chose to engage, and from assumptions around what kind of questions such a topic of research might entail (and about what kind of person might be asking them). Differenc e along gendered lines centered around willingness to participate in an interview and perceptions of what meeting with a young, white U.S. woman might mean. One significant difference between the men and women interviewed who were currently in relationship s was the matter of asking the other person in the relationship for permission to meet with me. Of the six women who were in relationships with Nicaraguans, four discussed the matter with their boyfriends before agreeing to meet with me. Unlike the women, none of the men (both those currently in a relationship with a woman from the United States and those who were in relationships with Nicaraguan women) indicated that they would need to discuss the possibility of an interview with their current wife or gir lfriend. One of these men, whom I will refer to as Juan, requested that we meet at the house of a mutual friend to prevent his current Nicaraguan girlfriend, the mother of his child, from finding out about our meeting. While Juan was not concerned that his girlfriend would find out that he was still in love with his foreign ex girlfriend, he was afraid that the community would see us together in a public place and
22 assume that we were dating. This would likely reach his girlfriend through the chains of gossi p that shape the social life of a relatively small town like Granada. This is a theme that I will take up in more detail later, but the matter of asking permission merits further discussion here. The fact that only the women asked permission may reflect t he gendered privilege that the men enjoyed, despite the relatively higher socioeconomic and racial status experienced by the women. Although these women largely normalized their r the other person, it is notable that the men did not share the same concern. Apart from reflecting the power dynamic, this difference may suggest that women are expected to manage the emotional status of the relationship, analyzing how the partnership wi ll be affected by the choices of the individual, while men focus on individual concerns rather than those of the partnership. Additionally, not seeking permission may reflect that men are allotted a higher degree of decision making based on gendered norms. This is a theme which several women spoke about in terms of sharing their m oney, which wi ll be discussed further The second gendered pattern of participation in interviews centered around the motivations to speak with me and the expectati ons about what might result from a meeting. All the women I spoke with expressed a desire to provide help for what they determined was an interesting or important project. Although I may be oversimplifying and essentializing their motivations, it was gener ally their concern for the success of others, and perhaps curiosity about my project, that caused them to agree to an interview. After each interview, the woman interviewee and I maintained a friendly
23 relationship if we happened to meet on the streets, but none of them actively sought me out. On the other hand, many men (though not all) carried other assumptions about and expectations to our meetings. Coupled with their general expectations, my gender, the topic, and informal style of discussion allowed th em to view me not as a serious researcher, but as a potential love interest. For example, one interviewee told me after several meetings to discuss my research that he had become interested romantically in me, leading to difficulties in ending contact whil e still maintaining friendly relations when I saw him in the street. In another case, a research subject became visibly upset when my Nicaraguan American boyfriend accompanied me to a late night interview so that I would not have to return to Masaya alone in a taxi. Although my boyfriend sat at a distance, this man questioned why I had brought him to the interview at all, suggesting that he viewed our meeting not as a chance for him to share his story and assist me in my research, but as a chance to spend t ime with me. However, the interest of the men in me sexually also facilitated what seemed to be honest conversations and several times I purposefully used what I knew I represented to men in order to make initial contact with an informant. More often than not, because of my gender and race, I was able to position myself in areas where I would be visible (such as sitting in the park alone on a bench), inviting potential research informants to initiate contact rather than approaching them myself. This allowe d the men to feel that they were in control of our interactions, rather than feeling threatened by my research agenda, and facilitated agreement to an interview.
24 Although the interviews with the men presented particularly complex challenges to navigate, the interviews with the women were not entirely devoid of difficulties. My biggest concern was that these women would develop a false sense of trust in me because of their belief that I was in agreement with them on the significance of and difficulties inh erent in these relationships because I was also dating a Nicaraguan. This sense of shared understanding and trust could potentially open them up to more dangerous forms of emotional exploitation should I interpret their actions and their words in a manner different from their own self readings. In order to deal with these concerns, I attempt to use their words as much as possible, presenting to the reader their stories and highlighting the complexities and contradictions that these women experience within t heir relationships and in daily life in Nicaragua. My positionality as a young, white, foreign woman, and my previous experience in Nicaragua, clearly affected my ability to do research and my methods of accessing knowledge. Additionally, my ongoing conta ct with several subjects also shaped the work resulting from my research, perhaps influencing me to withhold certain stories or soften critiques that might have been more harsh otherwise. Despite the possibilities pointed to by feminist scholars about the dangers of doing research based on relationships of reciprocity, I suggest that an exercise in reflexivity on my part may alleviate some of these problems. While not wholly avoiding research dilemmas, my use of reflexivity allows the reader to understand h ow I was able to access these partial truths and where I was located within the ethnographic narrative that I present (Stacey 1988; Abu Lughod 1990).
25 CHAPTER 2 A REVIEW OF RELEVANT LITERATURE: THE ARTICULATION OF RACE AND SEX, SEX TOURISM, AND THE NICA RAGUAN CONTEXT My thesis builds on the literature on travel and tourism and on the interactions of race and sexuality in a postcolonial world, contributing to knowledge of the exchanges of individuals across difference and the structures informing these di fferences. I draw my theoretical frameworks from the body of scholarship on sex and romance tourism in Latin America and the Caribbean and from that on the intersecting concepts of race, gender, sexuality, and class in Latin America. To contextualize my re search, I will first outline the relevant concepts and trends within these two overlapping bodies of literature that will be useful to constructing a theoretical framework. Within studies of travel and tourism, several concepts are relevant in order to understand how the travel experience is constructed by the meetings of difference and how the identities of participants are (re)informed by this encounter. Michi el Baud and Annelou Ypeij (2 009, locals engage in the (re)production and manipulation of images and ideologies. Located the social spaces where culturally or racially different peoples meet. area in which practices and knowledges are constructed and shared through the interactions of the colonizers and coloniz ed is useful for framing contemporary travel
26 asymmetries, become engaged in shared projects of constructing meanings and identities through their exchanges within the physical s pace of the contact zone. What is important is the emphasis on the interactive nature of these encounters in which the subjectivity of the travelers and of the locals (paralleling that of the colonizers and colonized) is constituted through their relations hips and experie nces with the other (Pratt 1992, 6, 7). The positionality of the local and of the traveler in these contact zones is also important to consider. For my purposes, a working concept of liminality that is useful to understanding the social pos itioning of foreign women is one which describes liminality as positioning not quite within Nicaraguan society, yet not also belonging fully to Ryan and Hall (2001, 1) apply t he concept of liminality to both sex tourists and sex workers involved in transnational relationships, arguing that their identities and agency are (re)negotiated in liminal spaces though the tourists occupy an impermanent sanctioned and economic liminality is revealing in terms of considering the encounters between locals of a region and the travelers to that area. Reflecting on identity formation in liminal spaces, Bhabha suggests tha t, the overlap and displacement of domains of difference that the intersubjective and collective experiences of nationness, community interest, or cultu 2). ceptualization of liminality leads to questions of how
27 empowerment come to be f ormulated in the competing claims of communities where, despite shared histories of deprivation and discrimination, the exchange of values, meanings and priorities may not always be collaborative and dialogical, but may be profoundly antagonistic, conflict ual and even 2). Bhabha highlights culture as a process through his suggestions about liminality, demonstrating how foreigners and locals are embedded in dynamic and constantly shifting cultural settings in which identity is created as the result of exchanges and interchanges, an understanding central to the construction of identity within the relationships of Nicaraguan men and U.S. women. Additionally, within these contact zones, concepts of sexuality and race are importan t to understanding the nature of interactions between locals and travelers and the processes of subject formation taking place in these spaces. Drawing from the Dutch colonial experience in Indonesia, Ann Stoler (1995, 2002) argues that discourses of sexua lity are constitutive of class and racial power structures rather than simply a consequence of these social vectors. In turn, this suggests that sex is integral to constructing and managing racial and class inequalities within contemporary contact between those from t he Global North and South (1995, 176; 200, : 14). Peter Wade (2009, 53), similarly, suggests that race and sex are mutually instrument of power and a target for regulation and governance, but is also involved in In his psychoanalytical rooted framework, Wade argues that the realization of oneself
28 creates ambivalence toward th e racialized other. This ambivalence takes the shape of the simultaneous (and conflicting) presence of binaries of fear/desire and love/hatred for the other (2009, consider complexit ies and contradictions, the suggestion of Wade and Stoler that race and sex are mutually constitutive, rather than separate social vectors, is important to understanding how race and sex play out in my research in Nicaragua. Kamala Kempadoo (2004) offers an alternative framework for conceptualizing contemporary Caribbean sexualities by emphasizing socio economic spheres, rather than seeing sexuality and race as informed by colonial discourses and the European imagination. Drawing from Fanon, Kempadoo argue s that the hypersexuality assigned to black Caribbean bodies resides not in the imaginary of the Global North, but as an embodied and empowering ideology and a strategy of resistance. Central to her theory is the idea that economies rely upon labor, which ultimately depends on managing the sexual energies and racialized bodies of its citizens, thereby articulating how sex a nd race function (Kempadoo 2004, 3, 4). The notion that sexuality fuels the economy, ational standing within global capitalist networks and tightly intertwined with the race and ethnicity of a particular nationstate. By centering the Caribbean experience, Kempadoo calls attention to the ways in which individuals actively shape their sexual and racial identities while they are simultaneously subjected to the demands of the regionally hegemonic patterns of heteronormative and patriarchal sexuality. Intimate Encounters: Sex and Romance Tourism The other body of scholarship important to inform ing the theoretical framework of my research is that which explores sex and romance tourism in Latin America and the
29 Caribbean. Notwithstanding differences across geographic location, (re)negotiation of gender, race, and sexuality within this context is im portant to understanding the significance of my research as well as the theories from which it draws. While I am not arguing that the relationships between Nicaraguan men and U.S. women take the same shape as sex tourism, this body of literature is useful in the ways that it comments on the constructs of power between local men and foreign women within the context of these types of international relationships and the intersectionalities of gender, class, race, and sexuality. To contextualize my study, I wil l take a historical perspective on this body of scholarship, exploring how the literature has changed across time and in response to shifts in feminist and anthropological theory. Some early literature produced on sex tourism in Latin America and the Cari bbean reflected radical feminist assertions that female sex tourists were in a position to be exploited based on their gender and also differentiated between romance tourism and sex tourism (Dahles and Bras 1999; Pruitt 1995; Meisch 1995). Representative o f this theoretical trend, Meisch (1995, 442 women are often looking for romance, an authentic experience or connection to indigenous culture, and sometimes a husband, while the young men are looking for sex and occasionally for som eone to exploit financially, especially when they are traveling essentializing dichotomy between romance and sex tourism, and emphasizing the disempowerment of women in transnation al relationships, this scholarship was important in acknowledging power dynamics underpinning romantic relationships rather
30 than assuming that desire and romance are natural categories, devoid of further significance. Challenging the radical feminist lit erature, later scholars deconstruct the dichotomy of sex tourism/romance tourism, acknowledging the fluidity of these categories (Cabezas 1999; Campbell, Perkins, and Mohammed 1999; de Albuquerque ll and Sanchez Taylor 1999; Phillips 1999; Ragsdale and Tomiko 1999; Sanchez Tay lor 2001). Sanchez Taylor (2001, ist must be being exploited in some way simply because she is a women giving a man sexual ed power over questions of racism and racialised? power, as well downplaying the significance of economic power. Interview work with female tourists show very clearly that women touri sts, as much as their male counterparts, to ignore imbalances of age and economic power between themselves and their local sexua l partners (Sanchez Taylor 2001, 759 760). This acknowledgement of economic and racial advantages deconstructs the dichotomy of sex/romance tourism and challenges the ways in which sex tourism is conceptualized by revealing the importance of racialized and classed concerns. Another contribution of this group of scholars is the (re)centering of the sex worker. By locating sex work ers at the center of research, this scholarship moves away from theorizing these transnational relationships as part of a hegemonic Western sexuality to one emphasizing the complexities and nuances of local sexualities and recognizing sex as a strategy of creating agency and resistance (Kempadoo 2004). By
31 challenging the essentialist representation of both tourist and sex worker, these works reorient the field of scholarship, expanding theoretical considerations to include economic concerns, Caribbean conce ptualizations of gender and sexuality, and ways of linking these relationships to colonial and post colonial global structures. However, despite the significant contributions, there are gaps in this sub area of scholarship in terms of how race and sexualit y are constituted (and interact with one another and gender in this context) as well as a lack of knowledge produced about similar phenomena occurring in Central American countries. More contemporary scholarship, which will largely inform my research, is f ocused on capturing the nuances and complexities of the relationships between sex tourists and sex workers. This body of knowledge largely focuses on how sexuality, race, class, and gender inform the general patterns of relationships and construct the part icular identities of the participants on the ground. Two concepts taken up widely in the literature, the construction of nationhood and performance of love, are integral for contextualizing my thesis and will be outlined below. By taking up discussions of nation making in relation to sex tourism, the ways that locals and tourists are situated within larger global and national structures is highlighted, acknowledging how subjectivities are constructed in the negotiation between hegemonic discourses and acts of resistance or rebellion. Megan Rivers Moore (2010), writing on sex tourism and nation making in Costa Rica, a nation prostitution. She also contributes to understandings of the link between modernity and sex work, exploring how
32 dissemination of discourses of national identity influence participation in sex tourism and therefore shape the industry in Costa Rica. A focus on nationality constructs foreigners emphasizing racial components may be unable to accomplish due to the hegemonic constructions of whiteness. Similarly, despite the th eoretical shortcomings discussed earlier, Wade contributes to the discussions of sex work and nationhood in his articulation of how discourses of racial democracy become part of a larger moral project of mestizaje and nationhood in which the regulation of sex a nd sexuality is central (2009, 159 160). Grounded in the Dominican Republic, Wade argues that the use of mestizaje as a national project to discuss sex tourism is an important addition for considering how economy but in creating a national moral order. Although I found that in the case of Nicaragua, relationships between locals and tourists cannot be strictly classified as sex tourism, what is significant is the conside ration of how racialized discourses employed within wider society affect sexual and romantic relationships on the ground. The shape of love and the performance of gender within relationships between travelers to the Caribbean and Latin America and their l ocal partners appears in the works of Kempadoo (2004), Padilla (2007, 2008), Babb (2011), Meisch (2002), and Sanchez Taylor (2006). Distinct from the earlier discussion on sexual desire for the eaning and value, some of which coincide with and reproduce hegemonic heterosexual regimes, and others offering a counterhegemonic 44). In other words, the
33 shape of the relationship may not be contingent on love or desire fo r the other, but rather shaped by love for the personal satisfaction achieved through this relationship. Important to my research is the idea that love and desire are social constructions, rather than naturalized emotions, contingent on historical consider ations and unequal relations of power. Approaching romance from another perspective, Padilla, grounding his study in the relationships of Dominican male sex workers, Babb, touching upon intimate relationships in Nicaragua and the bricheros of Peru, and M eisch exploring gringa encounters (Babb 2011; Meisch 1995; Padilla 2007, 2008). Staged authenticity suggests that local men are merely performing desire, romance, and difference in order foreigners (Meisch 1995; Padilla 2007, 2008). In turn, through these men, foreigners (and in the case of my research, foreign women) are able to access to what they be more backstage, and offer a more intimate experience of a culture, than being invited into so 452). In general, each of these works explores how these relationships are structured by cultural differences and economic and social inequalities while simultaneously shaping wider global power structu res and ideologies.
34 The Nicaraguan Case: An Articulation of Hegemonic Norms around Race, Sex, and Gender I will outline a number of theoretical frameworks useful in considering the situation of Nicaragua in terms of race, sexuality, gender, and class and the shape of the relationships between Granadino men and women from the United States. Sofa Montenegro, focusing on Nicaraguan sexualities, widely argues that precolonial and colonial hegemonic ideologies of sexuality have been important in shaping sexual behaviors. In particular, Catholicism -and the specifics of a Catholic morality -have been integral to shaping sexual norms, asserting the upholding of familial and individual araguan sexual identities (2000, 35 36). Broadly, she contributes to an understanding of sexuality as sexual imaginary of the Nicaraguan people constituted by ideas, beliefs, and values that work to justify sexual practices. Sexuality, argues Montenegro, is a dynamic process, shifting as culture changes, an i mportant consideration for my research as the sexual landscape shifts with the influx of outside peoples and the importation of new ideologies perpetuated and embodied by visitors (ibid., 16). Central to understanding how machismo and sexuality function i nterrelatedly, is within relationships under the auspices of love. Micromachismo works to pressure both the men and women to conform to heteronormative gendered roles and sexual acts, disciplining those subjects who resist through social alienation (for example, calling men cochones 195). Important to my research is an understandings of sexuality as a dynamic process and the expression of machis mo in heterosexual relationships. In particular the ways that Montenegro highlights machismo
35 as affecting both men and women, rather than how machismo is often conceptualized as a patriarchal mode of domination in which the man leverages gender power, is c entral to uncovering the complex and contradictory flows of power within these relationships. mestizaje contributes an understanding of the shape of race and racism within Nicaragua, giving insight into rac ial hierarchies and the importance of race in shaping social relations. Gould argues that the idea of Nicaragua as an ethnically homogenous society, based on shared mestizo identities nationwide, presents a distorted image of society as racial tensions sha pe the social landscape in a number of ways. Gould probes the historical moment in s into modern day society (1998, 12 13). T his myth has historically served a number of purposes, perhaps most importantly as an anti imperialist strategy against the United States and as a postcolonial discourse linked to the Sandinista rhetoric shaped during th e revolutionary war (Gould 1998, 15, identity is a myth, this belief has been used to subvert power structures on both the micro and macro levels, challenging dominant (white) hegemonic norms and racial constructi ons. Roger Lancaster (1992) makes significant contributions to exploring the interaction of race, sexuality, and gender within the context of Nicaragua, grounding his study in a working class barrio (neighborhood) of Managua. Lancaster, in agreement with
36 deals directly with this topic, and, indeed, dealing with it will prove difficu lt because of deep seated cultura 211). Most relevant to my research is his insight into the social value of whiteness, a concept that is integral to shaping relationships between locals and foreigners. In popular cultural discourse and daily lives, whiteness is evoked to signify or to claim a higher social status and monetary wealth, reifying the desirability of white skin implies might a emain pervasive (Lancaster 1992, 222). However, as race is conceptualized as fluid, one does not need to have white skin to be classified as white, but may rather claim whiteness with superior economic or s ocial power (Lancaster 1992, 219). Deconstructing the social value of whiteness further, Lancaster asserts that color relations are reflective of structures and hierarchies of power and important in determining the worth and power of a certain individual b ased on racia lized standards of beauty (1992, 223). The desirability of white skin in Nicaragua was something discussed by nearly all of the Nicaraguan men with whom I spoke and a concept that the white women I interviewed highlighted in terms of sexual ha rassment related to skin color. Because little scholarly literature is available on relationships between Otavaleo gringa relationships in Ecuador is merited as the topic is similar to mine. Meisch explores relationships between the mostly white U.S. women travelers to the Andean region and Andean Otavaleos, which she argues are based upon mutual exoticization and f ascination with the other (2002, 214, 217). Gringas, Meisch a rgues,
37 become involved with Otavaleos as a way to access an insider perspective of the authentic local culture through a relationship based on the romanticized trope of the noble savage (2002, 215). Otavaleos, in turn, typically romance these women for r easons of social mobility, gaining material goods or increasing social capital, earned through the superior financial and social status these women represent with their white skin an d U.S. citizenship (Meisch 2002, 214). It is clear that race, gender, and nationality are important in shaping these international relationships. More broadly, general assumptions about the other are disseminated throughout the wider society, meaning that gringas as a group are perceived in Otavaleo society in certain ways whi le stories of the exotic indigenous man cross borders and enter the U.S. imaginary. These relationships also have significance for the way these young Andean men relate to Otavaleas and therefore the ways in which Otavaleas relate to Otavelaos and to th e traveling gringas As these gringas frequently have relationships with married men, or are thought to be aggressively pursuing local men, they are stereotyped as predatory or abnormal, meaning that gringas are often viewed in opposition to Otavaleas (Me isch 2002, 218). Tammy Zoad (2010), a young journalist for a leading Nicaraguan newspaper, La Prensa provides the single source of previous analysis regarding how the relationships between Nicaraguan men and foreign women are viewed, reflecting similar t hemes to that of Otavaleo gringa relationships discussed by Meisch (2002). Using the highly controversial word chelero to characterize the Nicaraguan men who engage in relationships with foreign white women (called chelas ), Zoad suggests that these men ar e guided by certain sets of rules to romance these women. Zoad defines a chelero as
38 sienten atraccin o algn tipo de inters por el contacto con un extranjero, generalmen foreign tourists. The Nicaraguan men who feel attraction to, or some type of interest in, being in contact with foreigners, generally oriented toward diversion or sex), emphasizi ng this identity as a homogenous category. Through the voices of her informants, Zoad argues that the relationships are por placer, por diversin, por inters or diversion, because of interest), into another culture. However, she also suggests that these relationships may represent a means for upward economic mobility by estab lishing long term relationships which potentially lead to trips abroad, remittances, or other material or monetary forms of help. Racialized conceptions of the other (as men focus on making contact with chelas rather than foreign women of color), much like the noble savage trope explored by Meisch, while not thoroughly unpacked by Zoad, are also acknowledged as a central motivation for engaging in relationships with the other. While Zoad may present an essentializing perspective, a criticism put forth by ne arly all of the men I interviewed, this article is useful in acknowledging that certain strategies are being engaged by men hoping to establish a relationship with a foreign woman. Additionally, Zoad highlights the intersectionalities of gender, race, clas s, and sexuality in these romantic encounters.
39 CHAPTER 3 CONTEXTUALIZING THE STUDY: HISTORICAL AND CONTEMPORARY PERSPECTIVES ON NICARAGUAN SEXUALITY Race, Sex, and Revolution While the history of Nicaragua is undoubtedly complex, caught up in local a nd global exchanges and developments, I limit my historical overview to what is most relevant to contextualizing my research. Because I take up themes revolving around the articulation of race and sexuality, I emphasize a historical perspective on the evol ving shape of sexuality and race within Nicaragua and the consequences of the Sandinista Revolution and government of the 1970s and 1980s as well as the political and economic reforms implemented in the post revolution period. A more contemporary political history of Nicaragua is also important in revealing how norms of race and sexuality have shifted in recent years in response to policies implemented by Sandinista president Daniel Ortega with the increase in foreign visitors in the wake of the revolution. While race and sexuality are clearly mutually constitutive social vectors, I will treat them separately, outlining the relevant ideological shifts during recent decades. Attention to history is necessary insofar as it locates research subjects within larg er social frameworks, revealing the dynamic nature of culture, and interrogating the logic behind contemporary spheres of social life. Important to understanding the sexual and racial patterns playing out across the social landscape of Nicaragua are the ways that the colonization of Central America radically altered the pre existing cultural traditions and social frameworks, yet did not completely decimate entire systems of knowledge or identities. The erasure of racial and ethnic differences has been cen tral to projects of nation building in Nicaragua,
40 6). While Gould constructs Nicaraguan history in terms of ethnic identit as framing concept, rather than race, merely reproduces those nation building projects centering race within Latin America Hale argues that the nature of whiteness is better those w 203). For this reason, I discuss Nicaragua from a racial perspective, dr awing mostly from the work of Gould in his analysis of the national discourse of mestizaje. population that is neither white nor black, a belief prevails in Nicaraguan soc iety that Nicaragua has been an ethnically homogenous society since the late nineteenth century (Gould 1998, extinction of all Indian groups since the turn of the century (except for the Miskitos and of natio n building projects (Gould 1998, 3). Since shifts in the official discourse in the 1880s, elite and popular ideologies have negated the valid ity of indigenous identity leading to the shedding of mar kers of indigeneity (Gould 1998, 6). By the 1950s, the term ladino was no longer used in popular or official discourse, signifying the triumph of mes tizaje in Nicaragua (Gould 1998, 18). The ideolog y of a shared mestizo identity has also served as a means to challenge the imperialism of the U.S. backed Somoza regime stretching across much of the twentieth century (from 1936 1979), constructing Nicaraguans in opposition to the
41 white elite at home and abroa d (Gould 1998, 15, 138). Additionally, the notion of mestizaje was employed during the revolution as part of restructuring society by the FSLN ( Frente Sandinista de Liberacin Nacional ), the political front which overthrew the Somoza regime and contro ls the contemporary political scene, and remains central to national politics in c ontemporary society (Gould 1988, 15 16). Throughout the history of Nicaragua, beginning with the colonial period, mestizaje has played a central role in shaping the national imaginary embedded within a political landscape inextricably linked to racial politics. While the contemporary belief on a national level that there is a shared mestizo identity is fixed firmly in the minds of Nicaraguans on the Pacific Coast, Gould argue s that racial differences have been rendered invisible through social and political rhetoric, rather than extinguished. This in turn suggests that mestizaje is not merely the social reality of a racially homogenous society, but that: the culturally elabora ted content and meaning of the identity that results varies widely -from the complete suppression of Indianness? such that it remains only a distant memory; to the superficial acceptance of the dominant society as face, behind which a deep adherence to Ind ian culture persists; to a simultaneous affinity with multiple cultural traditions not completely compatib le with one another (Gould 1998, 10 11). What is significant about the racial history of Nicaragua for my research is how official discourse and popu lar memory have lauded the myth of mestizaje, constructing a seemingly homogenous society, while in reality racial differences shape the contemporary landscape of Nicaragua and affect the lives and identities of its citizenry through the hierarchization of races leading to social inequalities. The implementation of neoliberalism has also played a role in reifying racial and ethnic hierarchies in Nicaragua by replacing the assimilationist project of mestizaje with
42 couraging multiculturalism in order to further th e neoliberal project (Hale 2005, 12 restructured racial hierarchies in Nicaragua, but in doing so, has engendered the political discourse of individualiza tion and of individual rights and limited claims of collective rights (Hale 2005, 13). In turn, indigenous leaders and intellectuals are to make political claims within the narrow space permitted by neoliberal multiculturalism -in which State economic proj ects take precedence over collective claims to equality -, losing out on opportunities for creating more radical social and political change b y forcing compromise (Hale 2005, 20). Neoliberal multiculturalism has shaped the political and social context of N icaragua in which black and indigenous communities are Coasts in which the Atlan tic Coast is marginalized as a predom inantly black region (Hale 2005, 26). A historical analysis of sexuality in Nicaragua is also important for contextualizing my research and, while inexplicably linked to the shape of race in Nicaragua, deserves attenti on in its own right to make sense of contemporary patterns of sexual behaviors. Outlining the history of sexuality in Nicaragua, Montenegro places particular importance on the conquest in reordering local sexualities. The consolidation of Spanish power in the Americas, coupled with the diseases and forced labor imposed upon the indigenous population, led to significant social shifts in terms of gender roles and social norms construc ting sexuality (Montenegro 2000, 30). At the center of this new sexual orde r was the Spanish moral tradition of honor, replacing the indigenous model of sexuality
43 and family life, as the mestizo became the legitimated image of Nica raguan society (Montenegro 2000, 30). Additionally, the code of honor preserved the boundaries betwe en Spanish and non Spanish by discouraging intermarriage (despite the value of mestizaje). This in turn engendered racial hierarchies of desire with whiteness constructed as the most sexually desirable. Relationships and the control of sexuality, in a sens e, became a way to uphold a racial hierarchy and maintain Spanish power (Montenegro 2000, 36). Contemporary sexuality permits men greater sexual freedom than women and enforces gendered power structures which largely sub ordinate women (Montenegro 2000, 37) As a consequence of sexual discrimination and gendered hierarchies, Nicaraguan women generally have somewhat limited control over their sexual lives and reproductive capacities, often leading to pregnancies in youth and difficulties in obtaining and usin g con traception (Montenegro 2000, 39). Although numerous NGOs are working to dismantle entrenched sexism by providing workshops on gender relations and sexual health, their prevalence is reflective of the continuing challenges women face within Nicaraguan society around controlling sexuality. Contributing to in more detail below. While se xuality is shaped by other vectors of social life, such as religious beliefs and government policy on abortion or recognizing same sex unions, the ways that expectations about gender shape the sexual landscape of Nicaragua are important to understanding th e sexual culture in which relationships between Nicaraguan men and U.S. women are formed.
44 One of the most significant events in the contemporary history of Nicaragua was the Sandinista Revolution which restructured society -both ideologically and politica lly -and attracted the attention of the world. Organized in 1961, the leftist FSLN ended the 50 year reign of the U.S. many other Third World soci 236). Because of the seemingly impossible triumph of the Sandinista revolution and its commitment to Latin America, but around th 236). This period was also a time in which Nicaraguan women become more integral to public life, participating in revolutionary activities and joining in the struggles to restructure society. The Asociacin de Mujeres Nicaragences Luisa Amanda Espinosa (AMNLAE), although ultimately limited in addressing gendered inequalities, was a primary means of integrating women into the political conversations and of expanding the roles of women in society ( Randa ll 1994, 24,25). While the Nicaraguan revolution did not completely restructure society, a series of political changes were made to extend policy and political participation to women and the working class, alleviating poverty for some and broadening t he base of politica l participation (Lancaster 1992, 20). Perhaps more relevant to my research is how the revolution captured the imagination of young activists in the United States -in response to the numerous human rights violations committed by the oppos ition to the Sandinista revolutionaries -and the ways that Nicaragua, as the center of the leftist world, drew activists and leftists from around the world, opening their borders for the first time to internationals. It was during
45 the Sandinista Revolution and in the period immediately following the revolution under the Sandinista government, that many young women traveled from the United States to Nicaragua out of a commitment to revolutionary ideals, seeking what long time Nicaraguan resident Aynn Setrig explains, occurring in the wake of the numerous social movements in the U.S., many politicized U.S. youth moved to Nicaragua to participate in human rights work, remaining in Nicaragua after their s ervice ended because of (often romantic) ties formed with Nicaraguans (personal communication with Setright, Summer 2012). Although the excitement about the Sandinista Revolution has faded among international youth, indeed many of the young U.S. women I i nterviewed emphasized volunteer opportunities addressing extreme poverty as a central motivation for visiting Nicaragua, the legacy of the revolutionary period is important for understanding the historical context. Nicaragua is currently experiencing a new type of international attention and an opening of borders in order to accommodate tourists rather than the left leaning individuals of the revolutionary period. Coupled with the opening of Nicaragua to foreign investment and tourism is the increasing soci al conservatism of the Sandinista Party tied to concession making to rightist politics and a certain amount of anti passed in 2006 (Kampwirth 2008, 137). The banning of therapeutic abort ion, argues Kampwirth, should be viewed as part of a wider social project reifying patriarchal gender relations and moving away from progressive social and political ideologies, rather than a straightforward defeat of Nicaraguan feminist politics (Kampwirt h 200 8, 147). At the same time that Nicaragua is experiencing an influx of foreign influence in the form of
46 tourists, investors, and volunteers, there are moves to safeguard conservative political and sexual values; both shifts are significant for contextu alizing these relationships in terms of the political and cultural landscape in which they are located. Come to Granada, Have a Good Time: Examining the Character of Granada Contemporary life in Granada is shaped by these historical factors, which both dra w tourists to the city and influence local cultural frameworks. The importance of sexuality in shaping Granada is particularly important to understanding the identity of (certain groups of) locals and tourists. In the city of Granada, sex saunters up and d own La Calzada in six inch heels luring in foreign men to buy the services it offers; it lurks in dark corners in the packed and sweaty clubs smashed between the bodies of dancers, and it stretches out by the pool clad in a revealing bikini. In other words sex and sexuality are central to the character of Granada, particularly as tourists arrive in increasing numbers, consuming the bodies of the locals while offering up theirs in return. Karla, an educator at the well : Centro de Mujeres, describes Granada as a center of sexual activity, and of the sex trade, in Nicaragua. During a conversation with her in the cramped reception area of the center, she described how Granada had developed over the past ten years or so as part of the wider net of the sex trade in Nicaragua. In turn, it had gained a reputation as one of the main destinations for both Nicaraguans and foreigners to purchase, or otherwise enjoy, the bodies of Nicaraguans relocating to Granada from other areas s eeking better employment opportunities (which often means sex work). Although emphasizing the experience of Nicaraguan women catering to foreign men, Karla explained that in her view most of the relationships between foreigners and Nicaraguans are economi cally driven, with sex work offering a way for sex workers to
47 escape poverty. Sex workers, she passionately exclaimed, are not victims of the system, but rather individuals using their bodies as vehicles to a better future. While sex is certainly not the o nly organizing force in the city, acknowledging its centrality in shaping the social lives of different groups of people in Granada is important for contextualizing my research and for locating my research subjects in wider networks of sex work and the con sumption of sex. While I did not speak to individuals who define activity suggests the importance of sex and sexuality in shaping Western perceptions of the city and of its in habitants. Granada is one of the main tourist destinations in Nicaragua because of its colonial architecture and vibrant nightlife. Between 2009 and 2010, INTUR (Instituto Nicaragense de Turismo) recorded a growth of 8.5% in foreign tourism to Nicaragua, with the number of tourists reaching over one million in 2010, and reported an anticipation of further increases. Of the one million tourists visiting Nicaragua in 2010, 43.1% visited the city of Granada, marking its significance in the tourism industry ( INTUR). Apart from the architecture and nightlife, a number of Spanish Schools and drew several of the women I interviewed to this particular city. The landscape of Gran ada is also reflective of the large amount of international influence within Nicaragua as a majority of the bars and restaurants in the main tourist areas are foreign owned, suggesting that profits from tourism often do not directly reach the local communi ty. The layout of Granada is significant in shaping interactions between locals and foreigners, often facilitating segregation despite proximity between these two groups.
48 While laws do not limit tourist activities to certain areas, nor prevent Nicaraguans from entering certain spaces, patterns of behavior, daily routines, and economic concerns shape the landscape of this city. Tourists typically spend most of their time on la Calle Calzada, a spacious pedestrian avenue stretching between the central park a nd Lake Cocibolca. Nicaraguans frequently use this well lit avenue as a path between central park and their homes located on surrounding streets, but, they rarely interact with the crowds of foreigners sitting at tables on the sidewalk outside of relativel y expensive bars and restaurants. Several Spanish schools close to la Calle Calzada also attract a small number of foreigners, although the majority of those attending the schools were high school students or older foreigners during the summer in which I c onducted my research. Although most of Calle Calzada is occupied by foreigners, particularly during the busy tourist season from June to August, certain bars are usually filled by Nicaraguans, with a typically white foreign girlfriend tagging along with he r Nicaraguan boyfriend. The nightclubs, however, are more welcoming to both young Nicaraguans and foreigners, providing a space in which relationships are built across nationalities through a mixture of Spanish and various foreign languages. During the day tourists typically wander through the busy central park on their way to visit the market, lake, and colonial churches where benches are filled by women taking a rest between errands, elderly people socializing, and school children gathering after class t o gossip. Throughout the day, locals and foreigners drift in an out of these public places, selling drinks, seeing the sights, and socializing with others. However, Nicaraguans mainly occupy those spaces that are more affordable to them while tourists, wit h their economic privilege carried
49 from abroad, are able to access spaces where the only Nicaraguans present are the employees. Cheleros and Chelitas One moment in my fieldwork strikes me as particularly salient for understanding where and how U.S. Nicara guan relationships are initiated within the city of Granada, revealing the ways that touristic spaces are navigated by locals and tourists. After a night of seeking potential interviewees on Calle Calzada, I headed with Kevin to one of the several nightclu bs located a block from the strip of bars and restaurants on the Calzada. As the heavyset bouncer swung open the door, we were greeted by the thumping beats of Reggaeton and a cloud of smoke and sweat emanating from the crowd we settled into some seats alongside the dance floor and I immediately spotted one of the men notoriously known as a chelero, Jos Javier, talking to a young white woman with curls cascading down her back over a blouse tucked into a bright red mini skirt. Several other young Nicaraguan men were engaged in a boisterous conversation with two other foreign women perched on bar stools clutching Toas dripping with condensation. In a corner, money and a nondescript plastic baggie quickly exchanged hands b etween a clean cut Nicaraguan twenty something and two blonde and lanky European men dressed in shorts and boldly striped shirts. The party wore on into the night, bringing together Nicaraguan and foreign youth through a miss mash of half spoken and half u nderstood languages fueled by beer, drugs, and pounding music. As the night dragged on and the dancers tired, several of the young women left with the Nicaraguan men, walking hand in hand, perhaps only for a late night stroll or possibly with a more intima te agenda in mind.
50 This scene was repeated every weekend without fail during the months when the most tourists wandered through Granada, drinking in the sights and experiencing the local night life, although each time I visited different men and women app eared and left together after several hours of drinking and dancing. The men knew that this would be the best place to find women, something that the younger ones openly discussed with me during interviews, lubricating the social wheels with plenty of Toa and dancing. This scene reveals the strategies that men engage to meet young foreign women and the racialized and sexualized expectations that both the men and women held about the other as they encountered each other and experienced difference through th e bodies of dance partners and lovers met in these places. Within the sexual culture of Granada, individuals become stereotyped in particular ways, assumed to fit into certain static identities. The stereotype of the chelero is one such identity imposed u pon many of the Nicaraguan men with whom I spoke. However, it is important for understanding how community members view these men and for how chelero is used in jest between friends and acquaintances to comment 4 While not all of the men I spoke with were familiar with the word chelero, it was defined by those who were familiar with the word conquistando a las extranjeras ). Apart from looking for relationships with foreign women cheleros are assumed to sell drugs, to work in low status jobs (such as selling jewelry on the street), to be unemployed and supported by their foreign girlfriend, and they are generally marginalized from Nicaraguan society by their association with othe r vagos (bums). In 4 It was reported to me by most individuals interviewed that chelero is related to the word chele/chela which is commonly used to refer to both white foreigners and white Nicaraguans.
51 addition, assumptions are made that cheleros fit the tired trope of the Latino seeking a U.S. visa, simply dating foreign women as a means to leave the country. While the word has multiple meanings, evoking a specific identity and defini ng what it means to be a chelero, it is also wielded among friends as a form of social commentary, using jokes (whether by young men lauding each other for conquering for eign women or shaming the article by Zoad printed in La Prensa was a major source of contention in the ways that it essentialized and stereotyped cheleros as manipulator s and conquistadors of women out for sex, a cultural exchange, and perhaps a visa. While it is difficult to make certain claims about the nature of the relationships between Nicaraguan men and women from the United States, there are certain patterns worth noting in this section, although the complexities of these relationships will be discussed at greater length. Typically the men and women in these types of relationships met either through mutual friends or in a bar or nightclub within the tourist areas on and near La Calzada street. Additionally, many men claimed that they were initially interested in a relationship with a certain woman because of her physical appearance, with whiteness as central to fomenting initial attraction and as an important aspect of marking a woman attractive. Frequently, only small gifts were exchanged, passing from the women to the men, although many of the people I spoke with claimed that they knew other Nicaraguan men who depended almost entirely upon the economic support of a foreign woman. Furthermore, the character and duration of these relationships varied from one
52 night stands ( una noche de locura ) to more stable, long term relationships in which the woman returned multiple times over a period of years, maintaining ties th rough the internet. Men often cited a motivation for engaging in these relationships was to experience a different culture through their involvement with a foreign woman, distinguishing these relationships from those falling within the parameters of sex wo rk which, the men claimed, was more reflective of the dynamics between foreign men and local women. The U.S. women, on the other hand, did not interrogate their initial motivations as deeply as the men, stating that their relationships were the natural re sult of mutual attraction between two people. The differing perspectives on the nature of these relationships between men and women suggests that men have an understanding of these relationships as part of a wider framework of interactions between locals a nd foreigners. The women primarily framed their relationships in the same ways they would have in the United States, suggesting that their status as tourists renders less visible to them the complexities of wider social structures and the context in which they are embedded.
53 CHAPTER 4 THE ARTICULATION OF POWER: CONTRADICTIONS AND STRATEGIES OF DOMINATION AND RESISTANCE During a visit to the home of two young Nicaraguan sisters, Raquel and Carla, with whom I had developed a close relationship during m y two previous years of living in Nicaragua, the topic of Nicaragua men dating U.S. women inevitably came up because of my own relationship with a Nicaraguan and my thesis topic. Raquel and Carla found my relationship slightly scandalous, teasing me about my boyfriend and reminding me that, upon my arrival to the country, I had told them that I was absolutely not interested in dating anyone. While we sat in rocking chairs by their open front door to catch the slight breeze of the rainy season, Raquel decide d that a phone call to their brother, an expert she claimed in seducing foreign women in his younger years, was in order. Raquel dialed her brother, Marcos, who in his early twenties had dated an American woman, and demanded that he share his thoughts on h is relationship and his reasons for ending it. A long conversation unfolded, with Raquel conducting most of the interview, seizing her opportunity to interrogate her brother over the phone about his love life in the name of my research. For Marcos, Raquel reported back, leaving her brother waiting on the other end of the line, it was experiencing difference and having a relationship based on mutual diversion that was the biggest draw for dating a foreign, white woman. However, Marcos also saw this as a sho rt phase in his life and a time before he took his job and his relationships seriously. When I questioned him, through f he had gone to the United States
54 relationship between the U.S. and Nicaragua and what he assumed would be a total dependence on her for economic support and limitat ions to his ability to enter into society independently of her. While in Nicaragua, Marcos knew, he was able to have a relatively large amount of power in the relationship, overturning her racial and economic privilege. In a different context, particularly in a place where he could not speak the language, he would be less able to dominate the relationship as in Nicaragua. Marcos knew that he would become dependent on her financially and would potentially have to submit more to her whims than he did in Nicar agua where he could negotiate the relationship, suggesting that the participants in the relationship daily (re)negotiated the tensions between domination and submission in which power is leveraged in complex and contradictory ways and through various strategies. The intricacies of power articulated by the relationships between Nicaraguan men and U.S. women are dependent on the intersectionalities of race, class, and gender leading to assumptions as to who holds most of the power. However, individuals resist these assumptions through micro aggressions or concessions of Additionally, these interracial and international relationships, like all relationships, are about more than reifying power. They are integral to identity creation which, in turn, suggests that hegemonic assumptions of power are disrupted as individuals negotiate their relati onships, invoking concepts of desire and love rather than power, and construct themselves as members of globalizing world in which sexual encounters with
55 Navigating the Politics of Everyday Life: Liminalit y and Cultural Competency Eurocafe, a spacious cafetn one of the places frequented mainly by foreigners attracted by the free refills of coffee (an anomaly in Granada), free wifi, and the relief of bein g in a place where a majority of the words reverberating between the tiled floors and immaculately painted ceiling are spoken in English. As described by several U.S. women, this place was their refuge because of its similarity to home, allowing them to fo rget their outsider status in society among others who similarly grappled with feeling out of place in Nicaragua. Eurocafe was where I met Sarah, a petite blonde from Indiana who was interning for eight weeks in a local healthcare clinic to gain some exper ience before applying to graduate school in the States. During our conversation over the course of a sweltering afternoon, she spoke about her experience in Nicaragua with a mixture of fear and elation, knowing that this was an opportunity that she should take full advantage of, but feeling limited in her ability to do so as a liminal part of Nicaragua society. While a majority of the women from the United States whom I interviewed shared the feeling of liminality in Nicaraguan society, commentary on feeli ngs of (un)belonging and exclusion came across most clearly in the interview with Sarah. Because Sarah had lived in a smaller, coastal community for several weeks the year before, she was able to compare two different experiences. This suggests that her di sorientation in Granada resulted, in part, from a comparison to her previous living situation where she had worked more closely with other foreigners and was therefore less immersed (and felt less isolated) in Nicaraguan culture. Additionally, because of h er low level of Spanish competency she was, to some extent, dependent on Nicaraguans to accomplish nearly all of her daily activities, something that my research informants experienced in different
56 ways as they all had varying levels of Spanish proficiency What is important about society associated with privilege, she felt largely disempowered by her incompetency as a member of society in Nicaragua, restricted in h er movements and ability to meet personal goals. When I spoke with Sarah several weeks into her internship, she described the ways in which her interactions with ot her people were structured. At work, she struggled to follow medical cases and to make connections with the doctors, nurses, experience any easier by daily reminding her t hat she should learn Spanish more quickly, often making her feel that she had no choice but to tell him that she was shy rather than simply unable to fully express her thoughts. Outside of work, her liminal status and foreign identity were made painfully a pparent to her through the whistles and catcalls of men on the street. It was uncertainty and inability to navigate daily interactions, coupled with what she found to be an overwhelming amount of sexist behavior directed toward her on the streets, that led her to feel marginalized within mainstream Nicaragua society, an experience that she never had in the United States was apparent as we spent most of the conversation in a therapeutic type conversation with Sarah expressing her confusion, disbelief, and pain at how she is treated by unknown persons on the street and her inability to be her full self at work because of her language limitations.
57 I am not suggesting that Sa rah is a victim or that Sarah purposefully portrayed difficult or disorienting daily experiences can lead to feelings of marginalization and to a liminal positioning in Nic araguan society. Although not all the women I spoke to expressed such strong feelings, they were all able to point to a particular situation in which they had questioned their integration into society, felt like an outsider, or revealed themselves to be cu lturally incompetent participants in society. Even outside of relationships between Nicaraguan men and U.S. women, tourists cultures meet and grapple with questions of diffe rence and power (Pratt 1992, 6). It is in these spaces that subjectivity is developed, suggesting that the sharing of knowledge and of difference is key to understanding the ways that these women undergo subject making processes while in Nicaragua. Wh ile liminality, in terms of being a foreigner in a foreign land, shapes the experiences of the women I interviewed, they were not necessarily disempowered by this social positioning, despite feeling that way in certain i nstances. Ryan and Halls (2001, 1) marginalization, is ultimately unable to fully overturn the economic, social, and racial privilege experienced by touri sts from the Global North. Sarah, like most of the white U.S. women I interviewed, was aware of the power her ability to leave afforded her and that her time in Nicaragua was, in part, an active decision to embrace the challenge of navigating an unfamiliar society.
58 Who Wears the Pants? Exploring the Articulation of Power Nicaraguan men informed by hegemonic ideologies of gender, butted against the racial and economic privilege they experienced as tourists and as U.S. citizens. I argue that, in several ways, the assumed economic privilege of the women, signified by their race and nationality, is partially offset by participation in a relationship with a Nicaraguan man. This sugge sts that these women are not always the dominant partner in the relationship -in accordance with the privilege attributed to their race, economic status, or nationality -but, rather that they are caught in multidirectional flows of power which shape the na ture of their relationships and, in turn, their identities. Power disseminated from the top down, which would place these women in a higher position than their boyfriends, is in some ways reversed because of the feelings of (un)belonging attached to their positioning in society as foreigners. Additionally, the discourses employed by participants in these relationships, and the gendered ideologies structuring them, diminish the privilege of these women. Finally, the construction of masculinity and hegemonic gender norms structure the flows of power, partially favoring Nicaraguan men and allowing them to negotiate power within relationships on their own behalf. In other words, the easy assumptions about the shape of power between U.S. women and Nicaraguan men in interracial and international relationships are largely overturned by the discourses employed and the strategies of resistance, locating these relationships and their participants in complex and contradictory webs of power. The social positioning of w omen outside of relationships with Nicaraguan men is significant in the ways that it highlights how relationships are not initiated and carried out in a cultural vacuum, but are subject to the same forces that shape society at large.
59 Many of the women were able to critically analyze what their economic and racial privilege represented because of college classes in anthropology or sociology that they had taken which caused them to question their actions and positioning in society in comparison to their boyfr iends, co workers, and host families. Elizabeth, a woman working to develop a local NGO with a Nicaraguan from Granada, spoke about having a American woman, she acknowledged that h er experience was different from that of white, foreign women, because she is assumed to have less money because of her skin color and is, therefore, able to be integrated into society more easily than a white woman. The white women I interviewed had, at one time or another, felt pressure to give out or lend money, despite their protests that they were students (or had recently been students) meaning that they were not in the advantageous position that others assumed ial identity she has still been asked frequently for money by people in the community where she works. However, her annoyance expressed around issues of money (and the uncomfortable feelings resulting from people requesting money from her because of her po sition as an outsider) suggests that with economic privilege comes a degree of marginalization in being consistently thought of as different from mainstream Nicaraguan society. Aside from the intersections of class and race, the dynamics of race also play a role in contextualizing these relationships and shed light on how these relationships overturn some of the hegemonic social functionings of race and racism. Discussing the racialization of power, Kempadoo (2004) states that, of tourists places them automatically in a position of privilege in a region where the
60 combination of light skin colour and European or North American ethnic and cultural es invisible in the ways that whiteness acts as the hegemonic norm, is something that follows these women out of their doors in the morning, accompanies them throughout their day, and causes them to confront their whiteness in ways previously unimagined. The most obvious way that racial privilege plays out is in the ability of these women to access local and international resources and spaces that Granadinos are sometimes unable to access because their of socio economic standing in local and global spheres Additionally, as Lancaster (1992) argues, standards of beauty are racialized, with whiteness signifying achievement of beauty ideals. All of the white women from the U.S. spoke of daily affirmation of their desirability through catcalls, whistles, and ot her romantic overtures focusing on the value of their whiteness and foreign ness. While their white skin attracted sexual attention, it also led to feelings of ambivalence about their social positioning and about the value of their bodies in Nicaraguan soc iety. Most of the women I spoke with talked about how they felt when they were suggestively referred to as chelita in the streets, emphasizing the amount of sexual harassment that they experienced in Nicaragua in comparison to in the United States. Additio because of their white skin although they acknowledged that their skin color also allowed them to visit places that darker skinned Nicaraguans may have been barred from (such as nightclubs). W hat is significant is how the women I interviewed, despite having racial and economic privilege, often felt disempowered by their difference and
61 disoriented in their inability to fit into Nicaraguan society as a result of their embodied socio economic stat us. The racialization of beauty and desire will be explored further in relation to themes of sexuality, but here I want to emphasize that despite having racial and economic power on their side, the women I interviewed often felt disempowered by their diff erence and disoriented in their inability to fit into to mainstream society. Nevertheless, in individual relationships, economic and racial differences become less important as both Nicaraguan men and U.S. women assert that it simply makes more sense for t he women to pay for trips or meals and that race just does not matter to them. The contradictions and complexities of power flows are revealed through an exploration of particular relationships, as I examine how discourse is employed to (re)negotiate powe r and to challenge the hegemonic assumptions of power flows. Natalie is one such woman who experiences a good deal of economic and racial privilege in comparison to her boyfriend, Javier, while largely ignoring what her social and economic status represent s to society and to her boyfriend. Natalie was an enthusiastic and open interviewee, generously sharing (and speaking honestly about) her experiences, who had been living in the nearby community of the Laguna de Apoyo developing an NGO with two other forei gn women. After graduation from college in the U.S., Natalie moved to Nicaragua with a friend who had spent part of her childhood living on the edge of the Laguna de Apoyo, a scenic volcanic lagoon about 30 minutes from Granada where several small communit ies are spread out along the banks of the lagoon. At the time of our interview she had been in Nicaragua for approximately a year
62 and would remain another six months before returning to the States, a move that she has decided will end her relationship with her boyfriend. Her boyfriend, Javier, is a native Granadino and a staff member of a recently formed organization to keep kids off of the streets by teaching them circus skills (such as acrobatic tricks and juggling). Because he is paid little for his wor k, money is an issue and Natalie knows that she will have to pay for the trips that they have discussed taking together. However, because Javier emphasizes that he enjoys spending time with her in settings where money is not needed, the importance of her e conomic positioning is lessened. Money is shared between Natalie and Javier in the form of gifts, such as a chocolate milk type drink called chocolatito that Javier claims is one of his favorites. Like Natalie, most of the women and the men downplay the fa ct that the women often pay for all outings, meals, and miscellaneous expenses, claiming it as logical and normal as most of the men struggle financially or need to contribute their income to family expenses. While economic concerns aligning with the hege monic constructions of power between the Global North and the Global South are normalized, race is similarly rendered invisible within these relationships. In general, an ideology of colorblindness pervades these relationships. Chandra Mohanty (2003) explo res the development and ramifications of a pervasive colorblindness in U.S. society. This ideology has implications within these relationships in that race is rendered invisible and racial privilege denied. Mohanty asserts that, in the post Civil Rights er a of the 1960s and in alignment with the conservative political agenda of the Reagan Bush years, race has
63 around which collective political action can be undertaken, but a Because of this erasure of the historical and structural components of racism in the United States, racial discrimination also ceases to exist, constructing individuals as racist or non racist and allowing racism and race to be rend ered invisible as s hapers of society (Mohanty 2003, 214 215). The women I interviewed reflected this individualistic perspective on racism, marking themselves as decidedly non racist because of their intimate encounters with the other and ignoring the his torical and structural workings of race and racism. because of the fluidity of raci al classifications that Sarah observes in Nicaragua, she States, she states that dating a man of another race would undoubtedly be harder because of what she sees as the rigidity of the U.S. racial hierarchy and the invisibility of race, however, are evident through her admission that racial differences become starkly apparent to her when walking hand in hand with Javier. Imagining the intertwining of their fingers, creating a pattern of contrasting white and brown skin is when she sees the contr ast in their skin colors in this affectionate act. In other instances, race also plays an integral role in shaping their relationship, dating, his friends referred to them as gallo pinto the local interpretation of beans and
64 rice and a staple in the Nicaraguan diet. This reference emphasized how his darkness (in reference to beans) and her whiteness (represented by rice) mix together, yet are distinguishable and disti nct from one another. Javier found this humiliating, resenting being referred to as beans, perhaps because of the multiple negative connotations in Nicaraguan society with beans representing darkness of skin and with the association between beans and pover ty. Despite the fact that racial differences play a role in informing relationships between Nicaraguan men and U.S. women, the ways that participants de emphasize the importance of race is key for understanding how hegemonic power structures which would ap pear to work in the favor of the women are overturned. It is clear that agency within individual relationships, and a degree of resistance exercised against these larger hegemonic power dynamics, subverts racist structures, allowing for power to flow multi directionally as each partner navigates the relationship. However, the ways that race is rendered invisible and normalized with these relationships also suggests that racialized power structures and ideologies are not completely overturned, but also (re)pr oduced in certain ways within this context that uphold hegemonic ideologies of race and racism. cultural insider status permits them to structure their relationships, conso lidate social capital, and create agency, actively shaping their identities and manipulating their social realities. While the concept of machismo is highly contested (Gutmann 2006), its translation into the local vernacular proves useful in examining the relationships between Nicaraguan men and U.S. women in Granada in terms of negotiating dominance and authority. Although maschimo portrays all Latinos as machistas,
65 suggesting that all Latinos are sexist, women abusers and users interested in only what ser ves them, its salience as a local concept shaping masculinity is noteworthy. Lancaster, examining machismo in post revolutionary Nicaragua, suggests that understanding of th e concept but, a field 19). This, in turn, means that relations between individuals are structured in certain ways within the system of logic that constitutes machismo. The relations are always, y structure inequality and differential refining the raw material of the human body, machismo systematically st built around its definition of gen der and its allotment of power. Above all consciousness prepared by i t as inevitable (Lancaster 1992, 20). This means that in dividuals frequently reproduce power relations structured by the demands of machismo, something that is significant for understanding how power is negotiated between individuals in these relationships. s response encapsulates the many contradictions and nuances around machismo articulated by both the men nd dictates gender norms. Machismo was defined by most of the women and men I spoke with as a system of structural violence endlessly perpetuated by male dominance, but mas
66 In another interview, with Elizabeth, a barista at Eurocafe and a volunteer at the circus program for kids where Javier works, the importance of machismo, and of conformity to the masculine i deal, was highlighted. Elizabeth lived and worked mainly with men because of her volunteer position, and had assumed the identity of their pipi (a term of endearment used to mark her as a type of sister and signal her acceptance into the close her. She was comfortable living in the house, but described the gender dynamics as masculinity, toughness, and sexual prowess with what she described as a prevalence of homoerotic affection between her male housemates (for example, calling each other gay or slapping each other on the butt). However, despite these actions which largely suggest that machismo is riddled with contradictions, she described moments when the projection of a machista identity, though perhaps only momentarily revealed, overwhelmed her. Over several Toas, she discussed a time in which she found herself disoriented by the demands of conformity to m achismo on her housemates during a night out. Elizabeth and her male roommates had gone to a seedy bar on the banks of Lake Cocibolca, located at the very end of La Calle Calzada, where I was frequently warned not to go alone because of the darkly lit stre ets and the frequent muggings that happen in this part of town peripheral to the tourist center. While they were drinking beers and enjoying time spent together away from the center where they worked, a stranger made fight broke out. While bar fights are assuredly
67 necessarily that they needed to fig that they felt that they must fight, that fighting was the only option if they were to cochones (fags) and therefore must fight to pr eserve their masculine identities. and about constructing a masculine identity rooted in aggressive behavior and dominance. As Elizabeth revealed about her housemates, they some times reacted negatively when other men in the house demonstrated what they perceived as too many emotions, surveilling and policing both their own behavior and that of other men through calling each other cochones or teasing each other for what they saw a s effeminate behavior. Additionally, both Natalie and Elizabeth commented on how the ideals of machismo are only partially (and unevenly) taken up by all men in society, despite the fact that this concept undergirds hegemonic social construction of masculi nity. Masculine norms, and the ways that men are assumed to be the dominant participant in a sexual relationship, were frequently pointed to as a means for men in an inferior ority within these relationships. One of the areas in which men could subvert the economic domination of their girlfriends was by influencing how their girlfriends spent their money. While not all the men I spoke with intervened in the financial affairs o f their girlfriends -indeed several were relatively comfortable financially -one interviewee related a fight over money in which it was not the issue of money per se that spurred the fight, but rather a struggle
68 over who would be able to make decisions abo ut spending. This woman, Melanie, met her boyfriend (Raul) during a semester of study abroad and returned several months later as a summer intern to be with her boyfriend. She planned on moving to Nicaragua after graduation to be with her boyfriend and exp ressed hopes of marriage and of building a stable life with him. I devote a large part of what follows to my interview with Melanie because she had lived for a relatively long period in Nicaragua, compared to other women I interviewed, and was able to high light the intricacies of race, class, sexuality, and gender more articulately than other women I recorded. It was also the ease and frankness with which she shared her story that caused me to highlight her explore the structures influencing her relationship and the ways that she and her boyfriend conceptualized their identities and experiences. During our interview, Melanie recounted a night when she had gone out with her boyfriend to a local bar where they had enjoyed several drinks before flagging down the bar tender to close out their tab. There was a discrepancy in the amount on the bill and Raul proceeded to fight with the bartender despite her insistence that she didn about the small extra cost and wanted to go home more than she wanted to spend time trying to correct the bill. While she admitted that the line between chivalry and dominance was fine, in this particular situation she asserted that Raul was trying to be in which he had tried to control the ways that she spent her money, arguing with her when he thought that she was overpaying, and encouraging her to rent a mo re expensive apartment.
69 She interpreted this fight, and the other situations in which money was an issue, as a way that he attempted to control how she spent her money because he claimed that, as a man and as a local, he was better equipped to make import ant decisions about finances. Although in their disagreements her boyfriend was ultimately able to achieve the control he desired, this did not signify that the women are wholly unable to negotiation power within their relationships as was demonstrated abo ve. Melanie addressed this tension between gender roles and authority in her fights with her boyfriend in which domination was hashed out. She stated that, miscommun my role versus my experience as a woman and wh machismo that she has experienced in her relationship saying: I mean, I think they liked i t less because a lot of women, like, complained think that part is a positive thing in my opin ion. But, you know. I mean I think the other thing is...none of these girls have, like, lived with a Nicaraguan guy or dated them seriously so, like, those situations never came judgment se Nicaragua. So I think a lot of times in situations I feel like he should trust my judgment in whatever is about to happen because I have all these situation or that, like, his judgment is better. So t hat I guess is the main thing and I think that a lot of those situations probably never came up with those girls [referring to foreign female friends dating Nicaraguan men] like th at, so... Through adherence to gendered norms, in which the man is assumed to be in control of decisions, men challenge the greater economic and racial power of their girlfriends,
70 becoming agents in their own right as they shape the ways in which money is exchanged and decisions made, in order to assert their dominance and authority as men. Beyond the functionings of machismo as a field of productive relations structuring inequalities, Nicaraguan men are able to leverage power because of cultural competenc y which allows them to navigate society more capably than their girlfriends. Because of greater knowledge about society, Nicaraguan men are able to assume control during certain situations, asserting their authority as cultural insiders. As discussed above the liminal state of women generally creates feelings of disorientation and frequently leads to dependency on someone (such as a boyfriend) to help them navigate society more comfortably. Meisch (1995, 452; 2002, 215) and Babb (2011, 152), drawing on Mac performances for tourists are absent. In turn, foreigners may access what they perceive to be subject making processes related to sexuality and exoticization. However, it is the acces s to insider cultural knowledge that is useful to examine here. The entry point women dating Nicaraguan men had to authentic Nicaraguan experiences was apparent in the spaces that these women were able to occupy, and the boundaries that they were able to c ross which were usually rigidly upheld through self surveillance and by the policing of others.
71 On a particularly busy night on La Calzada -because of a boxing match featuring the much revered Alejandro Majorca, the streets were packed with Nicaraguans wh o would normally have spent their evenings relaxing in their homes or with their families -the ways in which the foreign white women dating Nicaraguan men were able to cross boundaries became apparent. Although, this night, La Calzada was full of both Nica raguans and (mainly white) tourists, certain bars and restaurants were designated as local spots, spaces where very few foreigners felt comfortable entering. Centro Litro, a spacious bar located on La Calzada several blocks from the area attracting the mos t tourists, was one such area generally frequented by only Nicaraguans. The night of the fight, every outside seat was taken at Centro Litro, with people crowded around flimsy plastic tables and liters of local beer watching the fight projected on a white screen placed on the sidewalk. In the sea of bodies of varying shades of brown, two white women stood out, their skin contrasting with that of their boyfriends upon whose laps they perched, crammed in between other eager spectators. While I never intervie wed either of these women, I had spoken briefly to one shortly after my arrival. She was a slight woman with pale white skin and dark hair, usually dressed in casual hippie like attire as she sashayed through the streets with her dark, artisan boyfriend. I knew that she spoke who was also her Spanish teacher, to communicate effectively with her boyfriend who spoke little English. However, despite their difficulty commu nicating, she was frequently privy to insider activities, invited to sit on the street with other artisans while they worked and to visit bars that a foreign, white woman would not feel confident entering alone.
72 Her boyfriend seemed to be well respected am ong people on La Calzada for his street smarts and authoritative air. Through their relationship, his girlfriend was protected from would have had as a tourist. However, her in ability to navigate society alone (or her lack of desire to do so) meant that her boyfriend had more control over her actions. When I first met with both of them about the possibility of an interview, there had been a misunderstanding and her boyfriend th ought that I was purposefully looking for both of them which caused them to think that I was some sort of CIA spy or government agent. Although we ultimately cleared up the misunderstanding after much discussion and my repeating that I, in fact, had not kn own anything about either of them until 15 minutes before our meeting, it was significant that it was the boyfriend who gave the final permission to his girlfriend to speak with me. He did not say that it was her decision if she wanted to, but rather state d that he would permit her to speak with me now that all suspicion had been cast off. It seemed clear from this encounter, and from the subsequent encounters with them in the street, that the boyfriend had a good deal of authority in the relationship, part the basis of race, nationality, and class. Insider cultural status clearly allows Nicaraguan men to leverage power in their favor, allowing them to offset the superior positioning of their girlfrien ds in economic and racial hierarchies through their ability to navigate society and therefore to consolidate power by having the advantage in local social settings. It would seem from the above exploration of the flows of power and the creation of dominan ce that I am suggesting that these relationships are more egalitarian than
73 heteronormative relationships between people of the same color, social class, and nationality. However, I argue instead that power flows multi directionally as individuals negotiate their relationships and identities, structuring consolidation of domination and authority in ways that run counter to the assumption that power is consolidated on the basis of gender or of racial and economic positioning alone. This in turn has implicatio ns for the social positioning of individuals in these international and interracial relationships and for the ways that identity is ascribed and embodied through participation in an intimate encounter with the other.
74 CHAPTER 5 RACIAL DIFFERENCE AS CULTURAL CAPITAL: THE PLACE OF RACE AND SEX IN CONSTRUCTING COSMOPOLITAN IDENTITIES To a white, foreign woman in Nicaragua, race plays a much more visible role in structuring daily life than in the United States where, as the embodiment of the hegemonic n orm, white women can often forget their skin color, perceiving their whiteness signified, and the privilege that it carried, until my two years of residence in Nicaragua. I came to understand the importance of my whiteness in structuring relations between myself and Nicaraguans, a process of self realization also shared with me by my white female informants. A particularly striking moment that drove home the assumptions abou t my whiteness occurred this summer through the words of an uninhibited child who was an acquaintance of Kevin. During the final days of my stay in Granada this summer, I was taking pictures of the center of Granada when my boyfriend and I were approached by a boy, Juan Carlos, selling bracelets to tourists on Calzada street. My boyfriend and Juan Carlos had met earlier that summer while Juan Carlos went from bar to bar selling his bracelets, and Kevin enjoyed discussing with him ways to expand his busines s. As we walked from central park down Calzada street, Juan Carlos began chattering about his boys do. While he said he loved her, in the way that an 11 year old can, he also was older. What, I gasped half into what almost seemed to be a prepared speech, suggesting that he was repeating t he words of the older men he often hung around on Calzada street, he proceeded to
75 offer forth stereotypes of white foreign women in comparison to his grade school girlfriend. Unlike Nicaraguan women, Juan Carlos explained, foreign women were more understa nding and less controlling of their boyfriends or husbands. Mimicking Nicaraguan women lecturing their husbands, he commented that Nicaraguan women relaxed and let their me n do what they desired. You should never marry a Nicaraguan woman, he warned my boyfriend, because they will order you around and only give you tiny amounts of food even though it is your money buying the food on the table. When my boyfriend and I tried to convince him that he was wrong in his perception of foreign women, that we, like Nicaraguan women, could rule a home with an iron fist, he remained firm that it only made sense to marry a foreign woman because they were more tranquila (calm) than Nicaragu an women. Additionally, he stated, surprised that skin, and foreign accent. In the days following this conversation, when we happened to run into Juan Carlos on the street, he would remind us of my physical attributes that he Although Juan Carlos, in his youth, failed to capture some of the contradictions between a stereo type of a white foreign woman and the reality of having a relationship with one, he was clearly reproducing parts of the Nicaraguan male imaginary related to the desirability of foreign women. What is striking is how the stereotypes about white foreign wom en are disseminated throughout society, revolving around the value of
76 whiteness, and constructing Nicaraguan and foreign women in oppositional terms. Expectations about the behavior and desirability of white foreign women is daily imposed upon their bodies through social policing in the streets, causing these women to reassess their social positioning and to question their whiteness in new ways as it is no longer invisible. Similarly, Nicaraguan men become aware of their difference through their relationshi ps, embodying a set of expectations about their masculinity, intimately linked to skin color. Within these relationships, both Nicaraguan men and U.S. women claim a non racist identity, overlooking the intersections of race, sex, and gender which are inte gral to shaping their relationships. The complexities of race and sex are highlighted within the context of these relationships, intertwined with notions of an erotic democracy and cultural capital obtained through accessing difference. In turn, these rela tionships become part of a means to fit into larger discourses of modernity and cosmopolitanism as a non racist and sexually liberated individual. Is Contradictions of Race and the Value of Whiteness While the ways that po wer is negotiated between individuals is central to the character of these relationships, the ways that desire and sexuality are racialized are important for deconstructing the workings of race in Nicaragua. Despite the ways that racial differences become central to constructing attraction, racialized assumptions shaping these relationships remain largely unexamined and unacknowledged by participants. This in turn allows participants to construct their identities in certain ways, masking the internalized ra cism and in part allowing individuals to experience racial differences through the bodies of their partners, in turn shifting their subjectivities by
77 marking themselves as part of a post racial society and therefore as more modern and cosmopolitan. Rooted in the words of my informants, I will first examine how beauty, desire, and attraction are racialized in Nicaragua, emphasizing the particularities about the value of whiteness versus that of the mestizo. To further explore how race functions within these revealing how race, gender, and sexuality are linked in erotic encounters. I will then deconst ruct how participation in these relationships shifts individual subjectivities as individuals embody these racialized assumptions, causing identities to shift through intimate contact with the other. Anthropologists have often examined beauty as a resul ting social category reflective of other social vectors in its embeddedness in various political and cosmological systems, but unimportant as its own cat egory of analysis (Edmonds 2008, 151). Beauty, s uggests Alexander Edmonds (2010, 20), should be viewed ped by the exigencies of li 20). This perspective emphasizes the dynamic nature of beauty, asserting that beauty is not merely a way of encoding class domination and policing behavior in the Foucauldian tradition, but in the case of imbued with contradicti ons and ambiguity (Edmonds 2010, 20, 24). While this typically suggests that those occupying the marginal spaces in society are able to u se beauty as
78 a method of changing material and social realities, it is also significant for those occupying the top of the racial hierarchy. The white women I interviewed were able to use their bodies to navigate society by using their perceived beauty to attract a man, Nicaragua. The racialization of beauty in many parts of the world, including Latin America, 26 ). This is apparent in the many telenovelas (soap operas), billboards, and beauty pageants featuring of skin colors in Nicaragua. Whiteness is a commodity that reflects positively upon both those who are white and those who associate themselves with white spaces, culture (such as the wearing of North American clothing styles), and peoples (through dating a white foreigner for example). Through attention to the significan ce of a racialized beauty in informing attraction, the complexities and contradictions around desire are revealed and my research informants are located at the top of a racialized hierarchy of desire valuing whiteness as erotic. While the relationship dyna mics that Donna Goldstein analyses in Brazil, between impoverished dark skinned women and older, rich white men, differ from what I defines as erotic democracy as a society i 135). Despite the widespread social belief that race plays no role in attraction, Goldstein
79 offers compelling evidence through the words of her women informants that race does, attractiveness, and this attract iveness is gendered, racialized, and class oriented in ways that commodify black female bodies and white male economic, rac ial, and class 106). Race in Brazil functions similarly to other Latin American and Caribbean countries in the valo rization of a mixed race society ( mestiam or mestizaje respectively), making it a useful case in comparis on to Nicaragua (Goldstein 2003, 103). Brazil, the structures o constructing b eauty standards (Goldstein 2003, 105). While the women Goldstein interviewed rejected the myth of Brazil as a racial democracy, in some ways they accepted the notion of an erotic de moc racy (Goldstein 2003, 121). A belief in an erotic democracy, a notion upheld by the existence of 149). This in turn means that indivi duals participating in relationships with the other are marked as more liberal or enlightened (in the sense that anti racist. Providing evidence against the notion th at Brazil is an erotic democracy, Goldstein explores how beauty intersects with race, gender, and sexuality. In the favelas of Brazil, being beautiful, asserts Goldstein, is not about an inherently appealing outward look, but rather about the possession of
80 (Goldstein 2003, 121). In other words, in order to be considered beautiful, and therefore privy to the chance of social mobility achiev ed through beauty, a woman must have white features, challenging the notion of an erotic democracy in which black skin appears to be as highly valued sexually as white skin. By framing Brazilian racial relations in this way, emphasizing the ability of beau positioning in the racial hierarchy, racist structures informing interracial relationships remain unexamined and therefore unchallenged. Although departing from my research in a number of ways, what I borrow from Goldstein is how the notion of an erotic democracy, in which race is believed to play no part in informing desire, renders racist assumptions about the bodies of the other invisible that are, in fact, central to constructing attraction for the other. It was puzzling to m any of the women I spoke with why whiteness was marked as erotic in Granada (reflecting their belief in an erotic democracy in which race does not matter), yet indicative of the entrenched ideologies about the value of disparate skin colors and the functio nings of the largely invisible racial hierarchy of Nicaragua. Deconstructing the way that sexual attraction and beauty are linked is important for interrogating the racial structure and for understanding how race and sexuality are intertwined. While most o f the scholarship on race and attraction addresses why black bodies are marked as hyper sexual, drawing the attention of white individuals from the Global North, I focus on these relationships from the top down, deconstructing how whiteness embodies a cert ain expectation about sexuality and morality and thus informs
81 The white women I spoke with in particular were affected by the conceptualization of an erotic and exotic whiteness, being subjected to stereotypes about their bodies differing from the ones they experienced in the United States, while in certain ways maintaining that their interracial relationship was proof of anti racism. Contrasting her experience to that of several black women in her study abroad program, Melanie articulated how race is sexualized in particular ways by highlighting the stereotypes projected upon her own body. She stated that: I feel like it s still more exotic here to be white so, like...I feel like I have a different stereotype t han them [black women]... So like, yeah I think the white girls are more stereotyped as, like, Americans, like, sluts, whatever, Furthermore, Melanie captures how the notion of an erotic democracy is relevant in Nicaragua, again comparing her experience to that of the black women in her study abroad program. She explains that: my last semester here there were two black girls in my house, so there were...five... five white girls, two black girls. So. And I feel like we had some of the same experiences. Like, I said I was surprised to see that, like, they were hit on just as much if not more than, like, me But at coast before they think the white girls at the house. Her perception that race does not matter in creating sexual desire and in shaping U.S. Nicaragu an men about the sexual value of skin color, although the (false) belief in an erotic democracy remained central. In general, the men with whom I spoke were largely unable to articulate what was desirable about white skin, naturalizing their attraction to white women. Jorge was a soft
82 spoken and easy going artisan who traveled throughout Central America selling his jewelry and who, in his travels, had met and dated several white women from the U.S. ed the often insidious connection among race, beauty, and desire as he struggled to articulate his attraction to foreign, white women. Sitting under the blistering sun in the doorway of Casa Blanca a restaurant in a spotless colonial house on Calle Calzad a, Jorge shared with me his story of how white women have become part of his life. He recounted his first experience with a white woman during his childhood, the moment when he claimed that y he remembered being cradled by a beautiful white woman and from that moment had a certain attraction to white women. As he grew older, he stayed close to his home, avoiding the trouble other school boys got into out of respect for his mother who raised h im alone. This part -in his view -When he began developing relationships with gringas, he had strong stereotypes about what white skin translated into in terms of morality. Naively, he admits, he thought ms puras ) than Nicaraguan women or foreign non white women. However, heartbreak quickly dissolved these stereotypes, leaving him with a se nse of disillusionment despite his continuing attraction to foreign white women how Nicaraguan men in general perceive foreign white women -in fact, the stereotype of a wh ite hyper sexual woman is often more publicly expressed -but what is important is
83 than) Nicaraguan women. ive border the role of the vi rgin or the whore (Edmonds 2010, 191). This dichotomy, Edmonds argues, may be particularly pronounced in Latin America and, as whiteness represent s certain types of sexuality, is extended to foreign white women in particularly pronounced ways. This dichotomy of the whore/virgin stereotype imposed upon gringas is significant in how it essentializes the foreign women in the Nicaraguan imaginary and af fects their social positioning. Nicaraguan was shared by several of the men I spoke with who emphasized that they were able to better relate to foreign women than to local women. This notion that foreign women are somehow more sexual or more pure than Nicaraguan women is innately wrapped up in the significance of whiteness and a U.S. nationality. In turn, foreign white women occupy a different position than the Nicaraguan morena, w ith the former marked as sexually desirable in common discourse in ways intimately linked to their whiteness and foreign identities. Although Jorge perceives himself as outside of the chelero identity, he shares many of the stereotypes about white foreign women that are prevalent among Nicaraguan men, emphasizing the link between beauty, whiteness, and sexual desire.
84 white foreign women over non white women, he had difficulty articulating why he was not interested in non white women sexually or romantical white his insistence that he was not a racist, and that race played no role in shaping desire, it was clear that racial concerns did, in fact, inform his relationships. Our conversation had been going back and forth for a while to get at a deeper understanding of why he preferred white women, when he announced that it was time for me to meet with his friend for an interview he had generously set up. We would meet, he promised, after this interview and he would spend the next hour or so reflecting on my questions. Upon wrapping up the interview, I stopped by the hostel where Jorge had been waiting for me to resume our conversation. While I was in the interview he had spoken with another artisan, who undoubtedly was frequently stereotyped as a chelero, asking the same questions that I had asked him in Casa Blanca. After some discussion, Jorge and his friend had come to the conclusion that white wome n were more beautiful and las chicas finas son las blancas con ojos azules no son finas, son gruesas y no son delicadas ). Because of this reason, neithe r of them would ever date a black woman. skin color -toda es carne ) available for consumption -whiteness carried certain expectati sexuality. It is also interesting that many of the men framed their preferences for white
85 women in opposition to black women, rather than the mestizas who made up the majority of the population. This is perhaps because t he men were attempting to frame their answers in a way that made more sense to me and my particular social logic as they perceived the U.S. as a nation where people mostly occupied the polar opposites of the racial continuum from black to white and as a mo re racist nation than Nicaragua, one where there were true race problems. Undoubtedly influential in their framing sexual preferences in terms of black and white, is the relationship of the Pacific Coast of Nicaragua to that of the Atlantic Coast, where th e black population is the largest. Lancaster reflects on the contradictions inherent in the construction of race and racism in Nicaragua, moving outside of the realm of desire, and articulating how these contradictions inform daily life and wider society. Within Nicaraguan society, official and good intentions of a thin, official di scou 212). While Lancaster argues for the fluidity or racial categories, asserting that the same person may be categorized as moreno in one context and negro in another, whiteness r emains the most valorized (1992, 218). For example, L rubio (fair) is virtually synonymous with guapo skinned people are considered good catches in a marriage because their children, too, will be lighter 219 220). Because of the relativ whiteness as social capital, asserting tha t the envy directed toward whiteness
86 manifests its workings in both centripetal and centrifugal motions. One inflated conception of whiteness...The transactions I have sketched are no less economic: value is assigned on the basis of exchange, but the values are assigned not to commodities but to human beings. In these daily exchanges, the many words associated with fair skin, with their arbitrary positive connotations, make up an infla ted symbolic currency. Whiteness thus serves as a kind of symbolic capital, empowering its claimant to make advantageous exchanges in a host of other sym bolic and material realms (1992, 222). The inability of men to articulate their attraction to a cer tain race is part of the workings of race in Nicaragua, which is constructed as an erotic democracy in which skin color appears to be unimportant in informing desire, but in actuality is central. The three non white U.S. women I interviewed shared experie nces differing drastically from those of the white women, emphasizing the ways in which they blended associated with whiteness, they were still marked by their national ity mainly because of their foreign, white peers in terms of the amount of sexual attention in the streets and in being asked for money less often than the white ind ividuals with whom they traveled. with one stating that it was because her now boyfriend originally thought she was Nicaraguan that he was initially interested in her. Contrasting their experiences to that of white U.S. women, it is clear that race plays an integral role in shaping experiences in Nicaragua, while it is simultaneously rendered invisible through normalizing discourses and the perspective that race is unimp ortant in Latin America in general.
87 The Tired Tropes of the Latin Lover: Global North Perspectives on Global South Sexuality While U.S. white women are subject to processes of eroticization in Nicaragua, they also carry assumptions about the sexuality of N icaraguan men, linked intimately to race and notions of an erotic democracy. Although women carry their assumptions about Nicaraguan men with them from tropes circulating within popular society -about the sexy Latin lover and the abusive machista -they are also confronted by a different sort of racial order upon arrival in Nicaragua. This is significant in that, although Western racial hierarchies and myths about Latinos shape expectations about Nicaraguan sexuality, the women are also disoriented by a loca l racial hierarchy which they frequently perceive as a racial democracy (in comparison to the United States). North of the black, hyper sexual male (Sanchez Taylor 2006) nor of t he indigenous of U.S. women informed by the intersections of sexuality, race, gender, and nationality. Central to the attraction to Nicaraguan men, asserted by the women with whom I spoke, was racial difference and an expression of masculinity differing from that of men from the United States. Latin men, they suggested, were more sexually aggressive and suave, while American men were often clumsy or timid in their attempt s at seduction. However, similarly to the men interviewed, these women asserted that racial differences were not important to formulating desire, marking themselves as part of a the myth of the post racial and colorblind youth of the United States. The dis course employed by the women comments on the relationship between race and sexuality, and the importance of difference in creating desire.
88 The Spanish conquest of the Americas established a social hierarchy of race, constructing certain ideologies around blackness and marking black men and women as the exotic, hyper sexual other. Sanchez Taylor, exploring sex tourism in the Dominican ame time racism also constructs Caribbean men as being closer to women, in the sense of being closer to nature, more intuitive, irrational and emotional than white men. Through the lens of racism, then, Caribbean men epitomize the romantic ideal -they are attributes make them more 49). Modern media continues to (re)produce images of the black sexual prowess and otherness, normalizing the connection between skin color and sexuality. tourists want black boyfriends in order to live out certain fantasies, whether they be r 20 06, 52). Similarly, Meisch comments on the exoticization of Andean men as tourism draws the Western gaze to the Ecuadorian Andes. Otavaleos become romanticized as f orgotten in more modernized nations. Speaking further to the functionings of the the latest version of the noble savage trope, whose variations include the savage as wise, frequently Asian; the savage as noble, usually native American; and the savage as barbarian, often Af rican or African American (2002, 88). While the young (and wealthier) Otavaleos meet Euro American standards in terms of education and
89 physical app earance, the appeal also lies in the insider access to authentic cu ltural experiences (Meisch 2002, 215). These historically informed images of the exotic are intertwined with racial and ethnic differences, paralleling those tropes of Nicaraguan men presen t in the imaginaries of Western women. Most of the women who were either in a relationship with a Nicaraguan, or who expressed interest in dating a Nicaraguan, asserted that the dark skin of the man of their interest had initially caught their attention. Joanna was one such woman who commented on how the darkness of her boyfriend was attractive, setting him apart that drew her to Nicaraguan men. While both of her parents are American, Joanna spent most of her childhood living advantage of perfect Spanish and a variety of Nica girlfri ends with which to discuss Nicaraguan men -providing her with a different perspective on Nicaraguan men than most of the other women I interviewed. Although she moved to the United States at 13, she continued to make yearly trips during summer vacation, ma inly staying at her several, including herself, initiated relationships with local men, most of whom personified the surfer identity and all of whom were morenos. Her fri ends she because of his physicality intimately tied to skin color, is a passionate and sensual lover.
90 While none of these relationships were lasting, Joanna values her current relationship with Erick, stating that he is the type of man (honest and hardworking) that she would like to marry one day. An interest in Nicaraguans, Joanna stated, is a more m asculine than an American man. Despite the importance of dark skin in creating desire, several women asserted cause of the way that race functioned differently. Additionally, although most of them asserted that race did not affect their relationship, and they claimed an identity as a non racist, the ways that they expressed their attraction to Nicaraguan men were contradictory to their claims of colorblindness. Melanie conceptualized Nicaragua as a society in which class mattered more than race, asserting that because of her shared middle class status with her boyfriend, racial differences were unimportant in shapi ng her relationship. The casual and affectionate use of racialized terms within the relationship (for example, the men naturalizing and normalizing the differences in skin c olor, while marking them as central to creating and expressing affection. Apart from the importance of racial difference butting against the myth of an erotic democracy in constructing desire, perceptions of Nicaraguan masculinity are central to creating attraction. Several women compared Nicaraguan men to men from
91 less suave in their interactions with women. The women who were dating Nicaraguans spoke positively of being pur sued by their boyfriends, saying that they were attracted to their boyfriends because of the way they lived up to the stereotype of the sexy Latino, wooing women with their dashing good looks and sexy accent. Joanna, for instance, stated that she felt more valued as a woman because of the way her boyfriend seduced ugh some women found this more forward manner of pursuing them a turn off -such as the woman who received dozens of texts daily for three weeks from a man interested in dating her -others felt that they were appreciated in new ways that they would not be i n the U.S. because of the way that U.S. men treated them as equals (a result of the social changes oriented toward gender equality their feelings, something that also caused the women to fall in love more quickly. This was a pattern that Joanna had seen among her friends as they visited her during the summer, and it was something that see med to have happened with many of the women I interviewed. Several spoke of moving more quickly in their relationship, in terms of falling in love, than they had in past relationships with men from the United States and progressing more quickly sexually th an they would have at home. Melanie in particular comments on how Nicaraguan men treat women in comparison to men from the U.S., arguing that in Nicaragua she feels more valued as a
92 woman, while in the United States society demands that she assert herself as equal to men, meaning that women lose out on the special advantages of being treated as a women. Chivalry is one such expression of valuing of women as different from men, and it is more evident in Nicaragua than the United States. While Nicaraguan con structions of masculinity drew Melanie to her boyfriend, she says there are multiple sides: a good and a bad side to that, like I was saying earlier, I feel like on one hand..in general Nicaraguan men have more respect for women. Like, opening doors...um, just like always trying to be helpful and, like, chivalrous deal with a lot of that with my something. However, she ultimately argued that: Honestly, I think men h ere, I feel kinda weird saying, I think men here have appreciate women for who they are, and like, not be like oh, you have to be like a man to be, like, equal, like...You can be a woman and, like, be difference, or, like, issues. Although she expresses some doubt in her assertion that women are more respected in Nicaragua than the United States, what is significant is that she feels that femininity is more valued here, while she feels social pressure in the United States to conform to a more gender neutral society. Here, she also told me, she wears high heels and dresses up to go out, as do Nicaraguan women and the foreign women in Granada dating Nicaraguans, attire that is different from what she wears in the States. Her relationship permits her to feel more feminine, and valued for he r gender differences, because of the demands of a Nicaraguan masculinity that construct men as different from women and as responsible for initiating relationships and making women fall in love.
93 Although the women I interviewed emphasized the commonalitie s between themselves and their boyfriends, difference was central in constructing desire and attraction. Assumptions about Nicaraguan men shaped the discourse shared by foreign women regarding the value of dark skin and a more overt masculinity when compar ed to U.S. men. In turn, the women were able to experience a heterosexual relationship in a new way, accessing difference through the bodies of the other and constructing their subjectivities in opposition to a more masculine partner. Shifting Subjectivit ies through an Encounter with the Other The intersections of race, gender, and sexuality integral to shaping desire are also central to constructing oneself as a cosmopolitan individual with intimate knowledge of the other. I suggest that an encounter with the other permits individuals to affirm themselves as part of a post racial society, marking themselves as modern and cosmopolitan. Although many of the individuals I interviewed proclaimed love for their boyfriend or girlfriend, these relationships are e mbedded in webs of social ideologies and power structures, providing a different perspective on love and attaching a deeper significance to something that is commonly perceived as a superficial and natural emotion in popular society. In other words, there is a deeper meaning behind these relationships that deserves interrogation in its own right, leading to an exploration of how these relationships fit into discourses of modernity. the knowledge, skills, education, and advantages accumulated by an individual over time as I argue that, by intimately relating to the other and therefore accessing the knowledge and difference of
94 the other, the individuals in these relationships acquire cultural capital. As the men and women in these relationships are embedded in a globalizing world that increasingly values colorblindness as an indicator of modernity and cosmopolitanism by accessing difference through the bodies of their girlfriend or boyfriend they are able to accumulate social capital and to mark themselves as more modern. N icaraguan men are able to associate themselves with whiteness and the knowledge of the Global North, repositioning themselves higher on the social hierarchy structuring Nicaraguan society. Additionally, within certain groups of young men, consumption of U. S. material culture (clothing, television shows, music, etc.) is part of expensive U.S. brands. The women similarly are able to learn about the other, having what they perc eive as an authentic cultural experience, allowing them to bring back new forms of knowledge and experiences, giving them certain advantages over their peers Although Bourdi and for deconstructing how subjectivities shift as the result of participation in an intimate exchange with the other, there are also ways that involvement in these relationships wo rks against the individuals. This suggests that the accumulation and embodiment of cultural capital are not linear processes, always leading to social mobility, but rather ones entrenched in contradictions and most holistically viewed as resulting in new e mbodied knowledges and changes in social identity. By dating a white foreigner, Nicaraguan men are able to associate themselves with whiteness, in turn whitening themselves through access to mainly white spaces
95 (and access to white economic privilege) an d producing lighter children should the the street with their white trophy girlfriends because the difference in skin color attracted attention and allowed the men to sy women to be more responsible, as harder workers, and as more willing to experience new things than the Nicaraguan women th ey knew. Nicaraguan and U.S. women were, in fact, vastly different, Jose Javier, a local tour guide and notorious chelero, explained during our interview in Eurocafe on a sweltering afternoon. In his view, Nicaragua was still a developing country, and Nic araguan women had not received the same educational opportunities as U.S. women, they were confined to the domestic sphere by demands of having children at a young age and not encouraged to develop themselves professionally and personally. The demands of d omesticity and of machismo meant that Nicaraguan women were comments on the ways that Nicaraguan women and U.S. women become counterposed in the male Nicaraguan imaginary -as traditional and conservative versus modern and liberal, respectively. This in turn allows the men to construct themselves as more modern by association with their U.S. girlfriends. By displaying their access to racial and cultural difference through the bo dies of white U.S. women, men affirm themselves as different from other Nicaraguans, declaring to society at large that they are privy to more
96 Women, similarly, are able to visually mark themselves as modern and adventurous through a relationship with the exotic other. Reflective of the cultural capital that is acquired through an intimate enco unter with the other is the exclamation of one the locals is so perspective that intimate encounters with men of other, exotic places is alluring because of the experience that it provides, but also notes the larger history throughout which the literally and metaphorically b y those in the Global North. Nicaragua, as other countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, has historically been subject to U.S. imperialism shaping its political and economic landscape and furthering the perception that Nicaraguan bodies are, in one w ay or another, at the disposal of U.S. desires. While it would be unwise to over analyze this particular isolated quote, what is relevant is how a the history of the r elationship between imperialistic U.S. policies and attitudes toward the countries of the Global South and the way that these political relationships have constructed the bodies of Global South citizens as erotic and exotic. Additionally, this comment note s that, by simply dating a person from another place, and of another women interviewed) and one becomes marked as more cosmopolitan and chic. Other women I interview ed spoke of similar experiences with their friends in the United States. As with the men interviewed, having a relationship with the exotic other was a source of cultural capital accumulated through retelling of stories abroad focusing
97 on the erotic encoun ters with the sexy Latino. While women are often thought of as the pursued in these relationships, they frequently are the ones initiating relationships with Nicaraguan men, allowing them to frame their experience as a free expression of their sexuality, a in the United States. Participation in a relationship with Nicaraguans sets these women apart, eroticizing their experience in a foreign country and giving them a particular se t of travel stories to take home. Participation in a relationship with the other is not only structured by flows of power between individuals, but also a process in which identities shift as cultural capital is obtained. Through contact with the other in an intimate setting, both Nicaraguan men and U.S. women are able to lay claim to a non racist identity, overlooking the intersections of race, sex, and gender which are integral to shaping their relationships. The complex relationship of race and sex is re vealed by these relationships, highlighting the importance of constructing an imaginary erotic democracy to fit into larger discourses of modernity and cosmopolitanism and to mark oneself in certain ways as a non racist and sexually liberated individual.
98 CHAPTER 6 CONCLUSION: CIRCULATING MYTHS AND DEHUMANIZING DISCOURSES The power structures informing relationships between women from the U.S. and Nicaraguan men, and the subsequent shifts of identity resulting from an intimate encounter with the other, ha ve an effect on the positionality and representation of the other within both Nicaraguan and U.S. societies. It is particularly the public visibility of men who date for eign women and the white foreign women who visit Nicaragua (whether or not they form a relationship while in country). As tourism increases, relationships between local men and foreign women will most likely continue to form, suggesting that a look at the social implications of these interracial and international relationships is necessary. By deconstructing the implications of these relationships in terms of the shape of race, racism, and sexuality, social patterns and discourses are revealed and strategie s may be implemented to promote a non exploitative and socially responsible tourism. Because these relationships mirror those conceptualized as sex tourism in certain aspects, it is important to examine the power inequalities shaping these types of encount ers and to analyze the resulting social phenomena. The stories circulating about white, foreign women often were the result of gossip about women dating Nicaraguan men. The circulation of these storie s informed wider social discourse about the behavior of all foreign white women, assumptions that women experienced through interactions with various Nicaraguans in different ways. One of the principal myths circulating about foreign women was about their overt sexual promiscuity in comparison to Nicaraguan women. This myth took shape and manifested
99 itself in several ways including: through unwanted sexual attention the women experienced on the streets, popular discourse circulating about white, foreign wom en associated with a foreign whiteness. While the social ramifications of a tension between foreign and local women, en widely explored, I examines the relationships occurring between black men and white women during the 1964 Freedom Summer of the U.S. Civil Rights Movement. These relationsh ips were proclaimed as representative of a truly egalitarian society in which race was unimportant and equality of the races (2006, 44). However, in deconstructing these romantic encounters, Breines suggests that these relationships further divided the black and white communities of women. Black tool of seduction (Breines 2006, 45). Furthermo re, as black women were members of a socially marginalized racial group, they could not afford to damage the alliances between themselves and black men, causing them to lay blame on the women while they stood b 49). Black me n, in turn, were not held responsible for their sexual behavior, as control of sexuality was assumed by women based on expectations about gendered behaviors, effectively releasi ng men from blame (Breines 2006, 45). While the relationships of the freedom su mmer are embedded in a different context, what is relevant is how interracial relationships pit women of color
100 against white women. Additionally, as Breines notes, interracial sexual relationships are the product of more than mutual attraction, but rather carry baggage reflective of colonial regimes and (re)produce racial hierarchies. Turning back to the Nicaraguan context, Joanna spoke about the stereotypes giving sexually tran weeks of dating her current boyfriend, Erick, he received a text from his ex girlfriend that anger or reflective of the wider social discourses marking foreign, white women as diseased and immoral. This was a common story circulated among Nicaraguan women, Joanna claimed, as s he had heard other foreign women referred to as carriers and spreaders of STDs because of their immorality and hyper sexuality. While she also admitted that this stereotype was partially rooted in reality, as she has observed many women who come to Nicarag women who do not adhere to this stereotype. Not only do foreign women directly experience the repercussions of this myth -such as men assuming that they are willing to sleep with th em or experiencing a relatively high level of sexual harassment on the streets -but this is also tied to the antagonistic attitudes held by some toward foreigners in general. The myth of hyper sexual foreign white women circulated within society has worke d to pit foreign women and local women against each other, although the U.S. women are frequently unaware of the antagonism directed toward them by Nicaraguan
101 women. The women I interviewed had typically not deeply considered how their relationships with N icaraguan men affected the Nicaraguan women tied to these men through kinship or social networks. However, nearly all of them had a story in which their men. Several of the mothers of the men in a relationship with a foreign woman their sons and would leave them heartbroken upon leaving Nicaragua and tossing the men aside. The women rarely u nderstood that this aggression directed toward them was part of wider social discourse, simply framing this experience as the result of one Despite the stereotypes imposed on white U.S. women, their privilege prevents th em from perceiving how they fit into wider social networks and from critically examining the ways that their actions are reifying racial hierarchies. Thus, interracial and international relationships become more than just the expression of desire, but rela tionships structuring wider social arrangements and informing the place of the other within society. Deconstructing these relationships might allow women travelers, indeed all travelers, to examine their actions and positionality within society, gaining kn owledge that creates the opportunity for engendering social change. Stigmatizing and Essentializing the Chelero Nicaraguan men are also subject to social discourses and stereotypes resulting from participation in these relationships. Jealousy, several men pointed out, has caused problems within the Granadino community between those who have dated foreign white women and those who have not. Although not all Nicaraguan men desire foreign women, those who do are both admired and marginalized from mainstream N icaraguan
102 society in certain ways. What is clear though, is that relationships with foreigners are producing social discourses about masculinity, sexuality, and who is conceptualized as marginal and socially mobile within Nicaraguan society. Upon explaini ng my research topic to several men who had never dated a foreign are always attracted to vagos (bums). Raul, an artisan who owns a leather workshop several blocks from the city center, was particularly interested in picking my brain about this, as he assumed that I would have some insight into why women dated the type of as most of the men dating -t shirts, shorts, and tennis shoes in place of the standard collared shirts and neatly pressed slacks -and typically have a more informal job in the tourism sector or as an artisan. Additionally, many of these men frequent nightclubs or bars to meet foreign women, whereas other Nicaraguan men visit bars away from tourist centers or mainly travel between work and home. These assumptions about the illegitimate or unusual behavior of men are wrapped up in the identity of the chelero, who is assumed to be looking for a visa and stereotypes they embody, and the foreign women that they attract -the exotic and erotic white woman has engendered discourses about the kind of men who date foreign white women. Social discourse is largely ambivalent about men who date foreign women. foreign woman. One the oth er hand, cheleros are stereotyped as bums; contributing
103 little to society, associating themselves with the street, and working in unrespectable jobs. The stereotypes perpetuated within society about cheleros have caused tensions between segments of society both marginalizing those who reflect stereotypes of cheleros and valorizing them for their sexual prowess. The stories that white women bring back to their countries about Latinos also work to reify the images of Latin men within U.S. society, reinforci ng the stereotype of the overtly sexual Latino in mainstream U.S. society. These discourses can serve to dehumanize Nicaraguan men, constructing them as more sexual than U.S. men and essentializing them as hyper sexual. The creation of these stereotypes is evidenced by the ways that women spoke of taking a Nicaraguan lover, emphasizing their sexual prowess and the desirability of dark skin. Although expectations of sex in Nicaragua do not seem to have yet become part of the travel experience for a majority of U.S. women, several of the men and women interviewed mentioned that many European women visiting Nicaragua expected sex. Elizabeth, as she lived in a residence that housed both the Nicaraguan men working at the circus school and foreign volunteers (mos tly German women), met several German women who directly told her that they were paying rent to stay in this house and therefore expected to sleep with the men living there. It was part of the package for them, an expectation most likely normalized by trav el stories of other women and construction of Nicaraguan men as sexually available and insatiable. Although these women were European, drawing in additional factors to consider, it seems possible that sex between U.S. women and Nicaraguans could also becom e the norm as tourism
104 continues to increase from the United States and the tropes of the erotic Nicaraguan return home with the women and are circulated in the United States. Love and Respect: The Reinterpretation of Colonial Discourses While these relati from both sides it seems that dehumanizing discourses about the other are frequently employed, suggesting that the old colonial hierarchies are not being overturned by these relationships, bu t rather reinterpreted in new ways. The parallels between these relationships and sex tourism occurring in other Latin American and Caribbean countries are significant, particularly as tourism to the region continues to increase. While these relationships are marked as normal and natural, they have important implications for structuring the position of the other within both Nicaraguan and U.S. society, and for influencing the shape of race, gender, and sexuality in these two contexts. As tourism continues to increase, the shape of these relationships will continue to shift, perhaps becoming more similar to sex tourism in certain ways, in turn causing social ideologies on race, racism, sexuality, and gender to be reinterpreted and reproduced. For this reason attention to such relationships can offer a valuable commentary on the workings of race, sex, and difference, and on the positioning of the other within society. In order to deconstruct the legacy of the colonial period and of imperialism in a rapidly gl obalizing world, social phenomena that have been rendered natural need to be reexamined with a critical lens to reveal the underlying racial assumptions and provide individuals and society at large with tools to create social change. While it is true that these relationships are not inherently exploitative, they are reflective of discourses of race and sex which lead to misunderstandings or harmful
105 stereotypes about the other. My hope is that the participants in these relationships, and those in the wider s ociety, will critically examine the assumptions and hegemonic forces underlying their behaviors and critically engage with their social realities, examining personal choices and educating others about the contradictions and complexities inherent in these r elationships.
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110 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Molly Green graduated from the U niversity of the South: Se wanee in 2009 with a degree in a IXCHEN: Centro de Mujeres, and to later teach English where she learned invaluable lessons about social inequalities, local cultural expression, and what it means to be a foreigner from the ever generous women of IXCHEN and her students. Molly hopes to pursue a doctoral degree in a nthropology in the future and is excited about the possibilities for engaging anthropological and feminist theory and discourse.