Female Prostitution in Costa Rica: Historical Perspectives, 1880-1930

Front Cover
Taylor & Francis, 2006 - History - 227 pages
0 Reviews

This book analyzes the development of female prostitution in the Pacific port of Puntarenas, Costa Rica during the advanced stage of the coffee exporting economy (1880-1930), at the height of the consolidation of the liberal state. Hayes argues that prostitution in the port differed from that of the coffee producing highlands due to differential economic, social, and political development. In the periphery of Puntarenas, the development of prostitution reflected a less stigmatized view of sexual commerce than that of the highlands, where prostitution, although legal, threatened the tenets of liberal nationalism based on racial homogeneity and family values. Women of the highlands were encouraged to reproduce the nation's "more European" stock of workers and to ensure the legal transference of property through legal church marriages - both part of a design to stabilize the coffee exporting project. By contrast, prostitutes and other working women of Puntarenas, many immigrants from the "less European" populations of neighboring regions and most in concubinage, were freer to do what the law prescribed - register as prostitutes in legitimate trade. Such regional disparities reveal weaknesses in traditional explanations of Costa Rican exceptionalism, which have rested on the premise of cultural homogeneity and have reflected the realities of only one region of the country. The book advances an alternative explanation for the development of the nation's more democratic institutions, situating Costa Rican exceptionalism in the nation's free labor system, of which the labor prostitute in Puntarenas provides an example.


What people are saying - Write a review

We haven't found any reviews in the usual places.


Chapter One Introduction and Theory
Chapter Two Regional Differentiation of Colony and Nation to 1890
Chapter Three The Mores of Coffee in the Highlands
Chapter Four The Economic Demography of Prostitution in Puntarenas before 1910
The Law and La Vida
The Pacific Railroad
Chapter Seven Society in Puntarenas after Completion of the Pacific Railroad
Prostitution in Puntarenas and the State
Back cover

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2006)

Anne Hayes is a Post-Doctoral Teaching Fellow in the History Department of Fordham University.

Bibliographic information