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The Little Old Lady KillerThe Sensationalized Crimes of Mexico's First Female Serial Killer$
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Susana Vargas Cervantes

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781479876488

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: January 2020

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9781479876488.001.0001

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Performing Mexicanidad I

Performing Mexicanidad I

Criminality and Lucha Libre

(p.111) 3 Performing Mexicanidad I
The Little Old Lady Killer

Susana Vargas Cervantes

NYU Press

This chapter takes as its focus the intersection of the discourses of Mexican criminology (based on international narratives) and those of lucha libre (Mexican wrestling) spectacle. The analysis focuses on the merging of personas—the serial killer disguised as a nurse and that of La Dama del Silencio, the wrestler persona adopted by Juana Barraza, that various accounts used as evidence that she, Barraza, was indeed the serial killer. These discourses have served to criminalize La Dama del Silencio, the wrestler, more so than Juana Barraza, the woman. This chapter shows how discourses of criminality and the spectacle of lucha libre intersect to regulate and perform the parameters of mexicanidad, reinforcing the limits of Mexican masculinity and femininity, but also revealing these limits as subject to redefinition. The gendered, sexed and classed police and criminological accounts, that interpret Barraza’s wrestling practice, with “masculine” features, and “muscular” body, as proof that Barraza was “evil”, and therefore capable of killing “without remorse” are interrogated. The chapter concludes with an analysis of how this merging of personas, the serial killer and the wrestler, circulates in different popular cultural forms, including a cumbia music video, a novel, and a police video.

Keywords:   Mexican wrestling, lucha libre, La Dama del Silencio, female criminals, mexicanidad, popular culture, cumbia

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