Kristen Ruggiero tackles an important and thorny issue in this well-written and intriguing, yet perplexing, book: what was the relationship between the physical modernization of Buenos Aires, the development of liberal democracy, and the mediation of modernity by the symbolic immigrant body? Using criminal court cases, Ruggiero explores how the law articulated these interrelated but distinct issues. Although the book explicitly concerns modernization, the concept of modernity itself is never defined. Physical modernization provides the backdrop, although not the cause, of the problem. Ruggiero is reluctant to link liberal democracy—which “showcased individual rights”—to a modernity that “raised consciousness of the public good and a commitment to science as the warranty of progress” (p. 2). She cleverly uses the concept of carne, flesh, which appears repeatedly in the court records, as the embodiment of the conflict within “liberal democracy between individual rights and...

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