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Lydia's Open Door

Inside Mexico's Most Modern Brothel

Patty Kelly (Author)

Available worldwide

Paperback, 296 pages
ISBN: 9780520255364
April 2008
$34.95, £24.95
In this groundbreaking ethnographic study, Patty Kelly examines the lives of the women who work in the Zona Galactica, a state-run brothel in Chiapas's capital city. By delving into lives that would otherwise go unremarked, Kelly documents the modernization of the sex industry during the neoliberal era in the city of Tuxtla Gutiérrez and illustrates how state-regulated sex became part of a broader effort by government officials to bring modernity to Chiapas, one of Mexico's poorest and most conflicted states. Kelly's innovative approach locates prostitution in a political-economic context by treating it as work. Most valuably, she conveys her analysis through vivid portraits of the lives of the sex workers themselves and shows how the women involved are neither victims nor heroines.
List of Illustrations
Map of Chiapas

1. Modern Sex in a Modern City
2. Hidden in Plain Sight: Street Prostitution
3. Inside the Galactic Zone: Regulating Sex, Regulating Women
4. Convergence: Panistas, Prostitutes, and Peasants
5. “It Began Innocently”: Women of the Ambiente
6. Sellers and Buyers
7. The Secrets We Keep: Sex, Work, Stigma
8. Final Thoughts: Understanding, Imagining

Patty Kelly is an Assistant Professor of Anthropology at George Washington University.
“Effective and insightful.”—Melissa Ditmore Spread Magazine
“[Kelly’s] methods are innovative, her analysis is sharp, and her writing expertly crafted, all of which make this ethnography not only valuable, but truly enjoyable.”—Gregory Mitchell Journal Latin American & Caribbean Anthropology
“This exceptional book makes several key contributions to the field and shows how freedom and anxiety, and the market and morality, tensely coexist in the business of sex. . . . Kelly's analysis is conveyed through vivid portraits of the lives of sex workers, showing that the women involved are neither victims nor heroines but something else: actors caught between agency and constraint.”—Roger N. Lancaster, author of The Trouble with Nature

“In this tour de force of feminist anthropology, Patty Kelly gives her heart to the remarkable women who toil in the bawdy sweatshops of the Zona Galactica, a 'reformed' red-light district in the Chiapas capital of Tuxtla Gutiérrez. In fact, as Kelly shows, it is just the ultimate low-wage industrial district.”—Mike Davis, author of Planet of Slums and In Praise of Barbarians

“The clarity of Kelly's perspective is neither apologetic, nor presumptive (as is usually the case); her focus is always on the political context of these women's lives. Patty Kelly writes like a poet and novelist, so much so that this work begs to be a movie.”—Carol Leigh, a.k.a. “Scarlot Harlot,” author of Unrepentant Whore

Sharon Stephens Prize, American Ethnological Society

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