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Desired States

Sex, Gender, and Political Culture in Chile

Desired Stateschallenges the notion that in some cultures, sex and sexuality have become privatized and located in individual subjectivity rather than in public political practices and institutions. Instead, the book contends that desire is a central aspect of political culture. Based on fieldwork and archival research, Frazier explores the gendered and sexualized dynamics of political culture in Chile, an imperialist context, asking how people connect with and become mobilized in political projects in some cases or, in others, become disaffected or are excluded to varying degrees. The book situates the state in a rich and changing context of transnational and localized movements, imperialist interests, geo-political conflicts, and market forces to explore the broader struggles of desiring subjects, especially in those dimensions of life that are explicitly sexual and amorous: free love movements, marriage, the sixties’ sexual revolution in Cold War contexts, prostitution policies, ideas about men’s gratification, the charisma of leaders, and sexual/domestic violence against women.

Author Information

Lessie Jo Frazier is an associate professor in the department of American studies and the department of gender studies at Indiana University in Bloomington.


" Desired States provides a groundbreaking reading of the continuities of Chilean dictatorial ideology in private and domestic spheres, as well as of the ways in which masculinities shaped the country’s politics through the 20th century. The book redefines the relationship between gender and politics in ways that are not only paradigm-shifting for the study of Chile, but also suggestive and productive for Latin Americanists at large."
— Ignacio M. Sánchez Prado, author of Screening Neoliberalism: Transforming Mexican Cinema 1988-2012

" Desired Statesaptly brings to focus Chilean nation-state histories of oligarchy, Catholicism, and populism through a lens of sexuality beyond the realm of individualized subjectivity. Frazier carefully stitches a composite lived archive of the grammar of gender and sexuality while analytically zooming into the affective links with the nation-state as potentially transformative, well beyond the Chilean example.”
— Valentina Napolitano, author of Migrant Hearts and the Atlantic Return: Transnationalism and the Roman Catholic Church

" Desired States...centrally engages with Latin American insights and concerns...[with] extensive archival and ethnographic research in Chile and a mastery of the latest theoretical advances in feminist, queer, and cultural studies. Interdisciplinary scholarship is something that we academics talk a lot about but seldom do—and rarely do well. The apparent ease and success with whichFraziermanages it is truly remarkable."
— Robert Buffington, co-editor of A Global History of Sexuality: The Modern Era

Audience: College/higher education;