Concepts, Research, Policy
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Edited by Sylvia Chant
Chapter 28: Urban Poverty, Heteronormativity and Women’s Agency in Lima, Peru: Family Life on the Margins
Carolyn H. Williams International development, feminist and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LBGT) action and research have seldom explored expressions and experiences of same-sex sexuality among low-income women in continents such as Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean (for notable exceptions, see Swarr and Nagar, 2004; Wekker, 2006; Williams, 2009). The masculinities and non-normative sexualities and gender identities of men and male to female transgender in these contexts have, by contrast, been the subject of increasing levels of academic and policy-oriented research (see Aggleton et al., 2005; Gutmann, 2003; Kulick, 1998). Meanwhile the voices of women living in poverty have rarely been heard or documented in terms of their knowledge and experiences of heteronormative inequality and discrimination. In order to address this lacuna my research has examined the lives of women from different low-income settlements in Lima, Peru. Three of the women I interviewed, Julia and Maria (who had lived together as a couple for 19 years) and Carmen, were aged between 45 and 50. Carmen was a community leader, single and living with her 7-year-old son when we met in 2006. The youngest, Charo, was 18 years old. Charo’s partner, Ceci, was 28 years old and was living in a working-class district of central Lima. In this chapter I focus on the women’s histories with their families, an aspect of their lives they highlighted as central to their experiences of the pressures and negative effects of heterosexual norms, as well as their efforts to overcome them and create...
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