Essay on Book Review: Lydia's Open Door

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Pages: 6

Lydia’s Open Door by American Anthropologist Patty Kelly is an intriguing case study about both the hidden and not so hidden aspects of sex work in Chiapas, Mexico. Her book proves the usefulness of ethnographic works where she engages with unconventional ways of knowing in order to determine the complex relationships that help to reproduce gender inequality. Lydia’s Open Door contextualizes prostitution within a political and economic framework revealing how it is impossible to diagnose one without the others. She uses both macro and micro-analysis to deconstruct the variability in how prostitution is practiced, regulated and perceived through space and time. Throughout her ethnography she discusses how globalization and …show more content…
Kelly makes a compelling argument when she states that the land on which the Zona Galactica was built was taken away from the campesinos (peasant farmers) to make room for a more modern form of exploitation. Kelly then productively shifts focus to the impact of the transformation from a largely state-supported economic system to a system based on the neo-liberal values of privatization and free-trade on the already disenfranchised populations. She explains that the gap between rich and poor widened as many populations lost a great-deal of wealth as a result of not being able to compete with cheap agricultural imports sprouting from free-trade (4). This transformation formulated a high tension environment within Mexico, creating hostility between citizens and government, socioeconomic classes, and genders. She alludes to the conclusion that state regulated prostitution became a mechanism to maintain social order through the control of the most marginalized population. This was done in part by keeping track of sex workers through required registration and medical exams, and also by segregating them in the Zona Galactica which was strategically built outside of the city far from the “decent” population. Kelly conveys this idea very clearly through her well placed section on the police raid in which she was personally involved. This police raid was intended to