In Defense of the Nation: Honor, Masculinity, and Dueling Diplomats in the Mexican Foreign Service, from the Porfiriato to the Post-Revolutionary Era

Thursday, January 5, 2012: 3:20 PM
Wrigleyville Room (Chicago Marriott Downtown)
Amelia M. Kiddle, Wesleyan University
This paper examines an attempted duel that took place between Mexico’s chargé d’affaires at Asunción and a member of the Paraguayan military in 1936.  Though defending his own honor against the insult that he was a “degenerate leftist” and the black sheep of his family, the chargé d’affaires also defended the Mexican nation against spurious charges of Communism.  In the Foreign Service, the separation between the nation and its representatives grew blurred and they came to embody the nation.  As is demonstrated by the surprisingly frequent participation of Mexican diplomats in duels from the Porfiriato to the post-revolutionary period, widely-held ideas regarding masculine honor necessitated the defense of the nation.  As though it were a damsel in distress, the feminized nation wanted protection from accusations of dishonourability that would stain her honor on the international stage.  Though outlawed almost everywhere in Latin America, the practice of dueling gained popularity in the nineteenth century, and isolated incidents continued into the twentieth century.  This paper argues that dueling continued to hold currency with Mexican diplomats, despite stated abhorrence of the practice in dealing with personal matters, because of the persistence of patriarchal ideas and transnational codes of masculine honor in the new Revolutionary nation.