Book Review: Lydia's Open Door Essay

1518 Words Sep 26th, 2012 7 Pages
Lydia’s Open Door by American Anthropologist Patty Kelly is an intriguing case study about both the hidden and not so hidden aspects of sex work in Chiapas, Mexico. Her book proves the usefulness of ethnographic works where she engages with unconventional ways of knowing in order to determine the complex relationships that help to reproduce gender inequality. Lydia’s Open Door contextualizes prostitution within a political and economic framework revealing how it is impossible to diagnose one without the others. She uses both macro and micro-analysis to deconstruct the variability in how prostitution is practiced, regulated and perceived through space and time. Throughout her ethnography she discusses how globalization and …show more content…
She explains that the creation of the Zona Galactica can be attributed to the 1982 foreign debt crisis which “precipitated the massive shift in Mexican political ideology and economic policy” (10). Mexico was in turmoil from the loss of export earnings due to a worldwide recession as well as from the soaring interest rates on the loans that were given by US, Japanese, and European banks to third world countries. Unable to pay, Mexico became a vulnerable contender for neoliberal restructuring. This neoliberal restructuring, Kelly explains, came as a condition with structural adjustment loans given out by the World Bank and International Monetary Fund in order to help poor countries pay off their debt. Kelly defines neoliberalism as a more aggressive version of capitalism which encompasses an entirely deregulated market along with heightened consumerism (3-4). However, she is very effective in pointing out that these structural adjustment loans along with their conditions were not necessarily for the purpose of making poor countries more modern and efficient, but were essentially self-serving. She states that neoliberal structural adjustment put these economies in the hands of bureaucrats in Washington, D.C. which began a recolonization of the developing world. Kelly conceptualizes the struggle for modernity as the missing link between state-regulated prostitution and neoliberal restructuring. This frames the Zona Galactica as an
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