convert natural raw materials into domestic

This detail, together with four culturally biased assumptions, aids the tiffany sale in building suspense as Boussingault slowly reveals the identity of this ambiguously gendered persona. The first of these assumptions is a notion of gender as inherently linked to biological sex. The second is that science is a masculine sphere of activity, since it depends on the ability to reason, a capacity deemed beyond women during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries (Mendelson 1978: 212; Pratt 1995: 263; Socolow 2000: 168-70). Therefore, those participating in this tiffany expedition are assumed to be male. The third assumption is one that Matthew Brown (2006: 43) has pointed out in his study of changing notions of masculinity in independence-era Gran Colombia: that manliness was associated with valour and physical prowess.


The fourth assumption - which is tangential to the previous two - is that nature and the land were associated with the feminine, while taming and cultivating the land were considered masculine endeavours. As Davies, Brewster and Owen (2006: 69) explain in their analysis of Andres Bello's 'La agricultura de la zona tórrida' (1826), 'The tiffany jewelry, abstract "zona" is not only gendered feminine but also sexed female', the implication of which is that cultivation - in other words 'domination' and 'taming' - of the land is a masculine activity; in the post-independence era, 'Men should display their heroism by domesticating and taming the (feminine) land, by sowing, planting and harvesting; while women should convert natural raw materials into domestic products to be consumed' (2006: 71). In these terms, the deathdefying stunt Boussingault describes, in which the subject asserts her bravery over the forces of nature, can be interpreted as a performance of masculinity.


As the story unfolds, the suspense builds up to a moment of astounding revelation:Estábamos en pleno tiffany jewelry on sale (tiempo seco) y la cita fue por la mañana [...]. A la hora indicada me puse en camino y alcancé a ver de lejos un grupo de jinetes que iban adelante y entre ellos, para mi sorpresa, un oficial superior. Sin embargo, de acuerdo con lo convenido, todos debíamos estar en traje civil. Cuando me acerqué para saludar al coronel, él maniobró de manera de esconder su rostro, de lo cual resultó una escena de equitación bastante curiosa por algunos momentos; luego tiffany sale soltó la risa y ví que el oficial era una mujer muy bonita, a pesar de su enorme mostacho: Manuelita, la amante titular de Bolívar. (Boussingault 1985: 111)

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