The abuela perplex: Unscripting Latina elderhood

Mérida M. Rúa*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This essay takes up a facet of “aging in displacement”-the experience of coming of age in a context of recurring spatial and social dislocation-by considering how often the expectation that older adult Latinas serve as idealized abuela figures dislocates these women’s sophisticated conceptions of themselves and their ways of being. It offers the concept of the “abuela perplex,” a constricting age-gender-sexual script that imagines Latinas in later adulthood as pious asexual beings perpetually in the service of others, to deconstruct how this figure of adoration and reverence dominates ideas about Latina elderhood. The sites of analysis-the stage, the screen, and daily life-shed light on the ways in which older adult Latinas engage with these expectations, whether they are abuelas or not.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Art of Latina and Latino Elderhood
PublisherSpringer Nature
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)9783031190087
ISBN (Print)9783031190070
StatePublished - Jan 1 2022


  • Abuela
  • Older Latinas
  • Sexuality
  • Urban life

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences
  • General Arts and Humanities


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