Decoding Gender: Law and Practice in Contemporary Mexico

Decoding Gender: Law and Practice in Contemporary Mexico

Decoding Gender: Law and Practice in Contemporary Mexico

Decoding Gender: Law and Practice in Contemporary Mexico


Gender discrimination pervades nearly all legal institutions and practices in Latin America. The deeper question is how this shapes broader relations of power. By examining the relationship between law and gender as it manifests itself in the Mexican legal system, the thirteen essays in this volume show how law is produced by, but also perpetuates, unequal power relations. At the same time, however, authors show how law is often malleable and can provide spaces for negotiation and redress. The contributors (including political scientists, sociologists, geographers, anthropologists, and economists) explore these issues-not only in courts, police stations, and prisons, but also in rural organizations, indigenous communities, and families.

By bringing new interdisciplinary perspectives to issues such as the quality of citizenship and the rule of law in present-day Mexico, this book raises important issues for research on the relationship between law and gender more widely.


An extensive literature links the subjects of law and gender in Mexico, but only rarely is the connection itself the focus of attention. This book demonstrates that the linkage is complex and, at times, contradictory. Law (written corpus, legal procedures, and everyday practices) frequently reproduces and perpetuates exclusion, discrimination, and inequality on the basis of gender (idealized notions of femininity, masculinity, and heteronormativity), but also is often malleable and provides spaces for agency, negotiation, and redress. Moreover, law and gender cut across traditional social science dichotomies (state–popular, hegemonic-subaltern, and so forth) in interesting and complex ways. Thus, this collective endeavor takes as its point of departure the idea that law and gender is not a narrow and specialized concept, but rather an important means through which to analyze a broader range of power relations in contemporary Mexico.

This introductory chapter has three main goals. First, it briefly highlights the central concerns this book shares with contemporary international debates about gender justice. Second, it provides a comprehensive overview of studies of law and gender in Mexico, which both sets the stage for the chapters that follow and traces the contours of a field that has heretofore been disparate and largely implicit. Third, this chapter considers contributors’ essays in the light of theoretical and empirical advances in the field more generally, drawing special attention to Mexico’s particularities with regard to law and gender.

Law and Gender in International Perspective

The contributors to this volume engage in a dialogue with both international debates about gender studies and a rich scholarship on law and gender in . . .

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