Embodiment, Sexuality, and Hermaphrodites” in a Colonial Archive: Juana Aguilar on Trial, Guatemala 1802

Saturday, January 7, 2017: 3:30 PM
Room 201 (Colorado Convention Center)
Martha Few, University of Arizona
In 1802, Guatemala's criminal court tried Juana Aguilar for "concubinages [with men and women] despite being a hermaphrodite and dressing in women's clothing." I will use the this lengthy criminal case to explore political and popular understandings of Aguilar's sexual ambiguity (she self identified as female, though others in political and medical intellectual circles struggled to categorize her), and developing legal categories of sexual difference in the turn of the nineteenth century Central America. This paper builds on my previous work on Enlightenment medical understandings of Aguilar as "neither man nor woman," rather than a "hermaphrodite," when her case was brought before the Royal Protomedicato Court in 1803-1804. Furthermore, I will build on recent innovative methodological work of Zeb Tortorici, María Elena Martínez, and others on the intersections of sexuality, gender, and the colonial archive, to use both the secular and medical court records to ask questions about how and in what way historians might draw on these materials to elicit Aguilar's own perspectives on her "in-betweenness" as she negotiated daily life in a colonial city.
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