How Machismo Got Its Spurs—in English: Social Science, Cold War Imperialism, and the Ethnicization of Hyper-masculinity

TitleHow Machismo Got Its Spurs—in English: Social Science, Cold War Imperialism, and the Ethnicization of Hyper-masculinity
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2017
AuthorsCowan, Benjamin Arthur
JournalLatin American Research Review
Volume52
Issue4
Pagination606 - 622
Date Published10/2017
Abstract

This article seeks to shift the framework of decades-long debates on the nature and significance of machismo, debunking the commonly held notion that the word describes a primordial Iberian and Ibero-American phenomenon. I trace the emergence of machismo as an English-language term, arguing that a tradition of unself-consciously ethnocentric scholarship in the 1940s and 1950s enabled the word's entrance, by the 1960s, into popular sources. In fact, machismo was rather a neologism in Spanish, but midcentury US scholarship presumed the category's empirical validity and applied to it to perceived problems in the "Latin" world. Much of machismo's linguistic purchase-the reason it has become a global shorthand for hypermasculinity-stemmed from mid to late twentieth-century anxieties about hemispheric security, the Cold War, immigration, and overpopulation, particularly vis-à-vis the United State's near neighbors, Mexico and Puerto Rico. I have sought out the word's earliest appearances in various English-language media (books, scholarly articles, newspapers, magazines, and television) and explained how it has long escaped scrutiny as a construct in and of itself. As a result, machismo has resisted the most earnest and well-intentioned of challenges to its scholarly primacy and remains a pathologizing point of departure in approaches to Latin American gender systems.

URLhttps://larrlasa.org/articles/10.25222/larr.100/
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