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At the turn of the twentieth century, many observers considered suicide to be a worldwide social problem that had reached epidemic proportions. In Mexico City, violent deaths in public spaces were commonplace in a city undergoing rapid modernization. Crime rates mounted, corpses piled up in the morgue, and the media reported on sensational cases of murder and suicide. More troublesome still, a compelling death wish appeared to grip women and youth. Drawing on a range of sources from judicial records to the popular press, Death in the City investigates the cultural meanings of self-destruction in modern Mexico. The author examines responses to suicide and death and disproves the long-held belief that Mexicans possess a cavalier attitude toward suffering.
List of Illustrations
1 • A Social History of Suicide in Mexico City, 1900–1930
2 • From Corpse to Cadaver: Suicide and the Forensic Gaze
3 • Media, Moral Panic, and Youth Suicide
4 • The Modern Disease: Medical Meanings and Approaches to Suicide
5 • Death in the City: Suicide and Public Space
6 • Stains of Blood: Death, Vernacular Mourning, and Suicide
Kathryn A. Sloan is Associate Dean of Fine Arts and Humanities in the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Arkansas. She is the author of Runaway Daughters: Seduction, Elopement, and Honor in Nineteenth-Century Mexico and Women’s Roles in Latin America and the Caribbean.
"Death has been a familiar topic of study for Mexico. Historians and other scholars have had a morbid fascination with Mexico’s culture where it pertains to death—there have been studies on death culture, funerals, and graveyards—but suicide has not, until now, attracted much scholarship. This is a wonderful and highly innovative work that marks a major contribution to the literature on the histories of suicide and death in modern Mexico."—Sonya Lipsett-Rivera, Professor of History, Carleton University
"This is the only book about suicide in Mexico City that focuses on this period and is one of the few books that address this topic in Latin America. The author has uncovered new sources in addition to forensic information and newspaper articles that have received only limited systematic attention until now. The cases presented in this excellent work are rich, thoughtful, and sensitive."—Laura M. Shelton, Assistant Professor of History, Franklin & Marshall College