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Sex and Conquest : Gendered Violence, Political Order and the European Conquest of the Americas

3.0 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0801484827
ISBN-10: 0801484820
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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Trexler (history, SUNY-Binghamton) examines the male sexual culture in Europe, particularly Spain, and in America at the time of the Spanish conquest, delineating the relationship between power and homosexual practices. He finds similar patterns of gendered dominance and submission in both regions and shows how the Spanish understanding of the situation at home is reflected in the writings of the Spanish conquerors and clergy on the natives of America. Trexler builds his arguments carefully, beginning in the ancient world and tracing the sexual expression of power and economic relationships up to the time of the Spanish conquest of the Americas. He is well aware of the limitations of his sources, which are all Spanish since the American natives left no writings, and he uses them with care. His scholarly work is not easy to read or digest, and it will give pause to most undergraduates. Recommended for graduate students and specialists in the history of sexuality.?Stephen H. Peters, Northern Michigan Univ. Lib., Marquette
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.


"Courageously original."―International History Review

"Trexler's work is a highly sophisticated analysis of the relation between eros and conquest, of the roles that societal violence imposes on some of the members of the community. . . . His book is doubtless not only the best study of the American berdache, but also a significant contribution to the understanding of the development of power and authority in human society."―American Historical Review

"This excellent book focuses on the erotics of power at the time of the initial colonization of the western hemisphere and examines male culture of the period by assessing both Iberian and American attitudes toward transvestism and homosexuality. This highly original work of history, however, never loses sight of the comparative and contemporary implications of its findings. . . . Trexler has mined the documentary record of the period with great caution and sophistication to yield a meticulous exposition of the interpretation the Spaniards and Portuguese placed on the sexual culture they encountered in the new world and the construction of their own sexual behavior and attitudes in this critical early period."―Foreign Affairs

"A work of erudition and detail."―Men and Masculinities

"Trexler weaves for us an impressive analysis of the presence of the berdache and the importance of gendered and sexualized violence in Iberian and Native societies."―The Committee on Gay and Lesbian History

"In its exposure of the links between sexual abuse of boys and the sexualized subordination of women, Sex and Conquest offers rare insight into gender inequality. Trexler's analysis of male dominance in sacred and secular hierarchies offers evidence and depth, as well as sweep and vision."―Catharine A. MacKinnon, author of Only Words

"A persuasive tour de force of deserted histories."―Gerald Vizenor, author of Manifest Manners: Postindian Warriors of Survivance


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 292 pages
  • Publisher: Cornell University Press (December 31, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0801484820
  • ISBN-13: 978-0801484827
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,038,100 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
trexler's study of preconquest sexuality is thorough and thought-provoking. he investigates countless indigenous and spanish sources to come up with a compelling argument that berdaches--indigenous males who cross-dressed and perfomed female sex and social roles--were part of the majority of indigenous cultures. he also demonstrates how those individuals were viewed by their peers and by the spanish, and how the spanish/european fear of homosexuality, specifically "passive" homosexuality, is responsible for the disappearance of the berdache. this book was highly readable for the more novice reader, but incredibly well documented (one hundred pages of notes) for the more academic reader. this book will likely go down as the definitive study on pre-conquest indigenous (homo)sexuality.
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It is an excellent book that uses the sources adequately. Unlike other scholars, who have written about homosexuality in the colonial period by selectively appropriating short extracts to support their own activist ideas, Trexler examines the sources closely and reaches clear conclusions. The reader may not like them, but they can always turn to those who phantasize with the sources to find myths to console themselves.
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This is a book for you if, only if, you have a fundamental belief in sex as power and very little else. For me it's a dark interpretation of human culture and unwarranted. His theory - incidence of homosexuality has to do with power (and subjection, humiliation) or is primarily to be studied in those terms - is way too blanket across cultures for my trust; he seems to me to treat vastly different cultures as almost equivalent. The evidence he hangs on is often loose, and the fact naively given away in his sentence structure: that is, you can easily read through to: 'although there's not a lot of data on this point, my theory holds'.

Sorry, my skin crawled; I have less negative beliefs. For your guidance, he follows Foucault, he scorns Walter Williams' The Spirit and the Flesh (too happy, too gay. I love this book). He discounts the spirituality, or spiritual significance of the berdache.
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Format: Paperback
I'll have to admit, I couldn't finish it. He starts from a basic assumption that anything outside of heteronormativity is shameful, that all homosexual actions are rape, and goes downhill from there. I was looking for new information about third genders in ancient societies. This isn't it.
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