The World of Lucha Libre: Secrets, Revelations, and Mexican National Identity

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9780822342144: The World of Lucha Libre: Secrets, Revelations, and Mexican National Identity
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The World of Lucha Libre is an insider’s account of lucha libre, the popular Mexican form of professional wrestling. Heather Levi spent more than a year immersed in the world of wrestling in Mexico City. Not only did she observe live events and interview wrestlers, referees, officials, promoters, and reporters; she also apprenticed with a retired luchador (wrestler). Drawing on her insider’s perspective, she explores lucha libre as a cultural performance, an occupational subculture, and a set of symbols that circulate through Mexican culture and politics. Levi argues that the broad appeal of lucha libre lies in its capacity to stage contradictions at the heart of Mexican national identity: between the rural and the urban, tradition and modernity, ritual and parody, machismo and feminism, politics and spectacle.

Levi considers lucha libre in light of scholarship about sport, modernization, and the formation of the Mexican nation-state, and in connection to professional wrestling in the United States. She examines the role of secrecy in wrestling, the relationship between wrestlers and the characters they embody, and the meanings of the masks worn by luchadors. She discusses male wrestlers who perform masculine roles, those who cross-dress and perform feminine roles, and female wrestlers who wrestle each other. Investigating the relationship between lucha libre and the mass media, she highlights the history of the sport’s engagement with television: it was televised briefly in the early 1950s, but not again until 1991. Finally, Levi traces the circulation of lucha libre symbols in avant-garde artistic movements and its appropriation in left-wing political discourse. The World of Lucha Libre shows how a sport imported from the United States in the 1930s came to be an iconic symbol of Mexican cultural authenticity.

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From the Publisher:

"The World of Lucha Libre will doubtless become the reference in English for a cultural phenomenon with a mass following in Mexico and the United States. Heather Levi provides an insider's knowledge of the popular practice of luche libre. For those who know wrestling in passing, The World of Lucha Libre will be revelatory. For those specialists in the multiple fields it engages, the book is welcome indeed."--Randy Martin, author of Critical Moves: Dance Studies in Theory and Politics

From the Back Cover:

"In "The World of Lucha Libre," Heather Levi offers up a backstage pass to the scene of muscles, sweat, passion, and politics that is "lucha libre." It's a world in which performing a public secret reveals that what is deadly serious is also a sham and that what is frivolous speaks of the grit and business of living. Levi illuminates lucha libre's fractal relationship to Mexican politics and its playful and serious regulation of gender and mestizaje as a dramatic staging of embodied contradiction that brings the messy world of lived experience into brute contact with its cultural ideals." The World of Lucha Libre" is important not just for wrestling fans but for any student of popular performance and social practice."--Nicholas Sammond, editor of "Steel Chair to the Head: The Pleasure and Pain of Professional Wrestling"

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9780822342328: The World of Lucha Libre: Secrets, Revelations, and Mexican National Identity

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