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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 II

Performing Mexicanidad II

Criminality and La Santa Muerte

(p.145) 4 Performing Mexicanidad II
The Little Old Lady Killer

Susana Vargas Cervantes

NYU Press

This chapter analyzes the notion of mexicanidad in terms of its underlying religious associations and their relation to official discourses on criminality. The construction of what constitutes a “morally good” Mexican versus an “evil” one, based on religious beliefs—such as an adoration of La Santa Muerte (The Holy Death) and —was used in official discourses to pathologize Barraza’s beliefs as those of a lower-class Mexican who was “evil” by nature. Her beliefs, along with her socioeconomic class, were exploited in media coverage to link her to criminality and serve as evidence that she was indeed a serial killer. Popular adoration of La Santa Muerte (and the associated figure of Jesús Malaverde) is contrasted with that of figures with whom she shares many characteristics, but which are deemed much more acceptable within the discourses of mexicanidad: La Virgen de Guadalupe and La Catrina. The chapter also explores the figure of the macho and the notion of machismo in the everyday lives of Mexican men and women.

Keywords:   mexicanidad, feminicide, La Santa Muerte, La Virgen de Guadalupe, La Catrina, Jesús Malaverde, machismo

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