Paz’s Pasivo: Thinking Mexicanness from the Bottom

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This essay reads Octavio Paz’s El laberinto de la soledad (1950) as a fundamental text that describes the tensions between modern expressions of Mexicanness and sexual behavior. Taking seriously Paz’s anxiety about sexual positionality, in which he proposes that Mexico can either assume the position of the chingón (top; fucker) or the chingado (bottom; fucked), this article asks: What is at stake in localizing and reading national narrative literature through the figure of the bottom? Paz’s anxieties about sexual practices are marked by death-dealing assumptions about the longevity of the nation. This article thus offers a close-reading of risky allegories made about sex between men in the work of Paz to propose queer frameworks, what the article describes as “pasivo ethics,” that engage with nationalist narratives that underscore that gay sexual practices are constitutive of nationalist discourse.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Latin American Cultural Studies
StatePublished - Mar 31 2020


  • Mexico
  • Octavio Paz
  • masculinity
  • nationalism
  • passivity
  • queer theory
  • sexuality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • History

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