Life is Hard

Life is Hard : Machismo, Danger, and the Intimacy of Power in Nicaragua

3.95 (113 ratings by Goodreads)
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'Rambo took the barrios by storm: Spanish videotapes of the movie were widely available, and nearly all the boys and young men had seen it, usually on the VCRs of their family's more affluent friends...As one young Sandinista commented, 'Rambo is like the Nicaraguan soldier. He's a superman. And if the United States invades, we'll cut the marines down like Rambo did.' And then he mimicked Rambo's famous war howl and mimed his arc of machine gun fire. We both laughed' - from the book. There is a Nicaragua that Americans have rarely seen or heard about, a nation of jarring political paradoxes and staggering social and cultural flux. In this Nicaragua, the culture of machismo still governs most relationships, insidious racism belies official declarations of ethnic harmony, sexual relationships between men differ starkly from American conceptions of homosexuality, and fascination with all things American is rampant. Roger Lancaster reveals the enduring character of Nicaraguan society as he records the experiences of three families and their community through times of war, hyperinflation, dire shortages, and political turmoil.
Life is hard for the inhabitants of working class barrios like Dona Flora, who expects little from men and who has reared her four children with the help of a constant female companion; and life is hard for Miguel, undersized and vulnerable, stigmatized as a cochon - a 'faggot' - until he learned to fight back against his brutalizers. Through candid discussions with young and old Nicaraguans, men and women, Lancaster constructs an account of the successes and failures of the 1979 Sandinista Revolution, documenting the effects of war and embargo on the cultural and economic fabric of Nicaraguan society. He tracks the break up of families, surveys informal networks that allow female-headed households to survive, explores the gradual transformation of the culture of machismo, and reveals a world where heroic efforts have been stymied and the best hopes deferred. This vast chronicle is sustained by a rich theoretical interpretation of the meanings of ideology, power, and the family in a revolutionary setting. Played out against a backdrop of political travail and social dislocation, this work is a story of survival and resistance but also of humor and happiness.
Roger Lancaster shows us that life is hard, but then too, life goes on.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 364 pages
  • 152 x 229 x 23mm | 499g
  • Berkerley, United States
  • English
  • Reprint
  • black & white illustrations
  • 0520089294
  • 9780520089297
  • 1,771,571

Table of contents

This Book and Its Title
I. Junk yards
II. Beating One's Wife
III. Murdering One's Husband's Lover
IV. Coping with Less: Compadrazgo, Friendship,
and Provisioning
v. Chicken Soup; or, Gossip, Tradition,
and the Anthropologist
VI. Censoring La semana comica
VII. Rolando
VIII. Flora
IX. Osvaldo
X. Elvis
XI. Roger
Xll. Maximo
XIII. Jaime
XIV. Jazmina
XV. Virgilio
XVI. Dealing with Danger
XVII. The Negro of the Family
XVIII. Subject Honor, Object Shame
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Review quote

"This brilliant ethnography is an important contribution to the study of the Nicaraguan revolution, and may become the definitive analysis of the country's complex extra-economic social relations."--"Report on the Americas
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About Roger N. Lancaster

Roger N. Lancaster teaches anthropology and cultural studies at George Mason University, where he directs the Cultural Studies Ph.D. program. He edited (with Micaela di Leonardo) The Gender/Sexuality Reader (1997) and is the author of The Trouble with Nature: Sex in Science and Popular Culture (California, 2003).
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Rating details

113 ratings
3.95 out of 5 stars
5 28% (32)
4 46% (52)
3 19% (21)
2 6% (7)
1 1% (1)
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