Women in Modern Latin American History
- LAST REVIEWED: 05 May 2017
- LAST MODIFIED: 28 October 2011
- DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199766581-0045
- LAST REVIEWED: 05 May 2017
- LAST MODIFIED: 28 October 2011
- DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199766581-0045
Sources for the study of the history of women in Latin America’s national period grew exponentially in the late 20th and early 21st centuries, both in the English-speaking world and, to a lesser extent, in Latin America itself. Fueled by women’s movements and the growing presence of female scholars in the humanities and social sciences in the 1960s, early research on Latin American women focused on women, religion, and the family in colonial period—partly in a search for the “origins” of gender inequalities evident in the present day. Studies of women in the national period, by contrast, emphasized women’s participation in family, economy, and politics, documenting women’s contributions to social change in Latin America and the Caribbean, particularly in the arenas of female employment, education, and suffrage. At the height of the cold war, scholarly attention focused predictably on women’s (and feminists’) extraordinary presence in antiauthoritarian struggles and the promise of socialist revolutions for greater gender equality, generating considerable interest in questions of gender identity and state–society relations in the process of state formation and national development. Finally, a wave of North American scholarship inspired by the questions and methods linked to gender analysis in the 1990s made the study of women and gender an intrinsic part of broader historiographical concerns with Latin American economic, political, and cultural development in the national period. One result of this development is that works not centrally concerned with “women’s history” regularly incorporate women as historical subjects and consider the importance of gender relations to the broader topic under examination, often in research ranging from US–Latin American relations and the history of medicine to agricultural production and historical memory. Women’s history has, in this respect, become ubiquitous, particularly in the English-language scholarship on modern Latin America. This North–South imbalance, as well as the greater distribution of English-language compared to Latin American publications, is certainly reflected in this bibliography, which privileges research by US scholars. This selection also documents the relatively lesser attention scholars have granted to the relationship between gender and racial/ethnic hierarchies as well as female religious identity and participation in the modern period. This bibliography nevertheless builds on this rapid and diverse historiographical development to offer a selection of significant historical works for the study of Latin American women after independence.
Though much of the earliest scholarship in English began to appear in edited collections published in the 1970s, a handful of historical monographs and journal articles established this new field, analyzing women’s historical experience in relation to legal systems, labor relations, women’s political rights, and the family. Lavrin 1978 introduced some of the earliest research on women available in English and included a sampling of historical as well as social science approaches to women’s experience. Kuznesof 1980, a study of women’s economic activity and female-headed households in Brazil’s early 19th century, established the importance of Latin America’s distinctive relationship to the world economy and helped define the emerging field of Latin American family and women’s history. Several monographs published in the 1980s began to sketch the greater contributions of women’s studies to the study of family, ethnicity, labor, and sexuality in the 19th century: Arrom 1985 presents a comprehensive study of women in education, labor, and family in late colonial and early national Mexico City, while Martínez-Alier 1989 offers a nuanced reading of interracial marriage and concubinage practices in late colonial Cuba. Two single-author collections, Molyneux 2001 and Guy 2000, republish articles that established enduring research orientations for women’s history in the 1980s, including Molyneux’s formulation of women’s practical and strategic gender interest, as well as Guy’s seminal work on women’s labor and vagrancy laws in late-19th-century Argentina. Women’s labor also provides a privileged vantage point for Graham 1992, a study of female servants in Rio de Janeiro in the decades before and after the abolition of slavery. The tendency in 1990s scholarship to merge women’s and gender history was anticipated in Deutsch 1991, a widely read essay that inaugurated the explicit use of gender as a category of analysis, insightfully analyzing political regimes that had dramatically impacted women and gender relations in Mexico, Cuba, Argentina, and Chile. Drawing, in most cases, on extensive archival research, these foundational studies established vital empirical foundations and inaugurated questions about the historical construction of gender inequality, origins that sustain the abundant scholarship that flowed from them.
Arrom, Silvia Marina. The Women of Mexico City, 1790–1857. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1985.
Through her work with Mexican census, notarial, and church archives, Arrom provides a detailed account of women’s authority as structured by social relations, legal status, family relations, and labor markets. Anticipating later arguments for women’s legal and economic agency in colonial Spanish America by fifteen years, Arrom demonstrated women’s active participation in key economic and social relations in the middle period.
Deutsch, Sandra McGee. “Gender and Sociopolitical Change in Twentieth-Century Latin America.” Hispanic American Historical Review 71.2 (1991): 259–306.
Deutsch pioneered the use of the category of gender in this clear-eyed analysis of women and states in modern Latin America. Drawing on a limited field of published secondary works, Deutsch analyzed the gendered nature of four political movements: Revolutionary Mexico, Peronist Argentina, the Cuban Revolution, and Allende’s Chile. The essay marks a paradigm shift from women’s history to gender history among US historians of Latin America. Available online for purchase or by subscription.
Graham, Sandra Lauderdale. House and Street: The Domestic World of Servants and Masters in Nineteenth-Century Rio de Janeiro. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1992.
Revises the analytical paradigm of casa e rua as a lens for race and class relations in the Brazilian Empire and First Republic, arguing that the experiences of domestic servants in Rio de Janeiro inverted the meanings of public and private space. Graham documents how servant women used “the street” to escape employer surveillance, exchange services for freedom, and create networks of sociability.
Guy, Donna J. White Slavery and Mothers Alive and Dead: The Troubled Meeting of Sex, Gender, Public Health, and Progress in Latin America. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2000.
This volume combines articles published by social historian Donna Guy in the 1980s, including the seminal 1981 piece “Women, Peonage and Industrialization: Argentina, 1810–1914” (American Research Review 16.3: 65–89), with chapters on Pan Americanism, white slavery, and the welfare state in Latin America. An important record of the shifting agenda of Latin American women’s history in the late-20th-century United States.
Kuznesof, Elizabeth. “The Role of the Female-Headed Household in Brazilian Modernization: São Paulo, 1765–1836.” Journal of Social History 13.4 (1980): 589–613.
Kuznesof’s groundbreaking research on family organization contributed to the transformation of key methods in Latin American family history. Scrutinizing Brazil’s population census of 1765, 1802, and 1836, this study explains the pervasiveness of female-headed households in late colonial and early empire Brazil as a local response to a transitional stage of economic development that favored women’s domestic manufacturing. Available online for purchase or by subscription.
Lavrin, Asunción, ed. Latin American Women: Historical Perspectives. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 1978.
Collection marks the emergence of the historical study of women in Latin America, edited and with a concluding essay by historian Asunción Lavrin. Though chapters focus predominantly on early Latin America, this collection marked the creation of women’s history as a specialized area of inquiry within the Latin American field, laying critical empirical groundwork for continuing research on women’s role in Latin American families, economy, and politics in the modern period.
Martínez-Alier, Verena. Marriage, Class and Colour in Nineteenth-Century Cuba: A Study of Racial Attitudes and Sexual Values in a Slave Society. 2d ed. Women and Culture Series. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1989.
This early work of historical anthropology examines the effects of the Royal Pragmatic of 1776 on sexuality and race relations in 19th-century Cuba. Based on a close and systematic reading of marriage disputes and seduction cases over several decades, Martínez-Alier charted new terrain for students of Latin American women and gender.
Molyneux, Maxine. Women’s Movements in International Perspective: Latin America and Beyond. New York: Palgrave, 2001.
This collection brings together Molyneux’s key essays, published in a variety of scholarly journals, including the 1986 study “No God, No Boss, No Husband” (American Perspectives 13.1: 119–145), an important article on the woman question in a late-19th-century Argentine anarchist journal. Includes key articles theorizing women’s mobilization and socialist states.
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content on this page. Please subscribe or login.
How to Subscribe
Oxford Bibliographies Online is available by subscription and perpetual access to institutions. For more information or to contact an Oxford Sales Representative click here.
- Abortion and Infanticide
- Agricultural Technologies
- Alcohol Use
- Ancient Andean Textiles
- Andean Contributions to Rethinking the State and the Natio...
- Andean Music
- Anti-Asian Racism
- Antislavery Narratives
- Arab Diaspora in Brazil, The
- Arab Diaspora in Latin America, The
- Argentina in the Era of Mass Immigration
- Argentina, Slavery in
- Argentine Literature
- Army of Chile in the 19th Century
- Asian Art and Its Impact in the Americas, 1565–1840
- Asian-Peruvian Literature
- Atlantic Creoles
- Baroque and Neo-baroque Literary Tradition
- Beauty in Latin America
- Bello, Andrés
- Black Experience in Colonial Latin America, The
- Black Experience in Modern Latin America, The
- Bolaño, Roberto
- Borderlands in Latin America, Conquest of
- Borges, Jorge Luis
- Bourbon Reforms, The
- Brazilian Northeast, History of the
- Buenos Aires
- California Missions, The
- Caribbean Philosophical Association, The
- Caribbean, The Archaeology of the
- Cartagena de Indias
- Caste War of Yucatán, The
- Caudillos, 19th Century
- Cádiz Constitution and Liberalism, The
- Central America, The Archaeology of
- Chaco War
- Children, History of
- Chile's Struggle for Independence
- Chronicle, The
- Church in Colonial Latin America, The
- Chávez, Hugo, and the Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela
- Cinema, Contemporary Brazilian
- Cinema, Latin American
- Colonial Central America
- Colonial Latin America, Crime and Punishment in
- Colonial Latin America, Pilgrimage in
- Colonial Legal History of Peru
- Colonial New Granada
- Colonial Portuguese Amazon Region, from the 17th to 18th C...
- Comics, Cartoons, Graphic Novels
- Contemporary Indigenous Film and Video Production
- Contemporary Indigenous Social and Political Thought
- Contemporary Maya, The
- Cortés, Hernán
- Costa Rica
- Cárdenas and Cardenismo
- Cuban Revolution, The
- de Alva Ixtlilxochitl, Fernando
- Dependency Theory in Latin American History
- Development of Architecture in New Spain, 1500–1810, The
- Development of Painting in Peru, 1520–1820, The
- Drug Trades in Latin America
- Dutch in South America and the Caribbean, The
- Early Colonial Forms of Native Expression in Mexico and Pe...
- Economies from Independence to Industrialization
- Ecuador, La Generación del 30 in
- Education in New Spain
- El Salvador
- Enlightenment and its Visual Manifestations in Spanish Ame...
- Environmental History
- Era of Porfirio Díaz, 1876–1911, The
- Family History
- Film, Science Fiction
- Football (Soccer) in Latin America
- Franciscans in Colonial Latin America
- From "National Culture" to the "National Popular" and the ...
- Gaucho Literature
- Gender and History in the Andes
- Gender during the Period of Latin American Independence
- Gender in Colonial Brazil
- Gender in Postcolonial Latin America
- Gentrification in Latin America
- Guaman Poma de Ayala, Felipe
- Guaraní and Their Legacy, The
- Guatemala and Yucatan, Conquest of
- Guatemala City
- Guatemala (Colonial Period)
- Guatemala (Modern & National Period)
- Haitian Revolution, The
- Health and Disease in Modern Latin America, History of
- History, Cultural
- History, Food
- History of Health and Disease in Latin America and the Car...
- Honor in Latin America to 1900
- Honor in Mexican Public Life
- Horror in Literature and Film in Latin America
- Human Rights in Latin America
- Immigration in Latin America
- Independence in Argentina
- Indigenous Elites in the Colonial Andes
- Indigenous Population and Justice System in Central Mexico...
- Indigenous Voices in Literature
- Japanese Presence in Latin America
- Jesuits in Colonial Latin America
- Jewish Presence in Latin America, The
- José María Arguedas and Early 21st Century Cultural and Po...
- Las Casas, Bartolomé de
- Latin American Independence
- Latin American Theater and Performance
- Latin American Urbanism, 1850-1950
- Law and Society in Latin America since 1800
- Legal History of New Spain, 16th-17th Centuries
- Legal History of the State and Church in 18th Century New ...
- LGBT Literature
- Literature, Argentinian
- Machado de Assis
- Magical Realism
- Maroon Societies in Latin America
- Martí, José, and Cuba
- Menchú, Rigoberta
- Mesoamerica, The Archaeology of
- Mestizaje and the Legacy of José María Arguedas
- Mexican Nationalism
- Mexican Revolution, 1910–1940, The
- Mexican-US Relations
- Mexico, Conquest of
- Mexico, Education in
- Mexico, Health Care in 20th-Century
- Migration to the United States
- Military and Modern Latin America, The
- Military Government in Latin America, 1959–1990
- Military Institution in Colonial Latin America, The
- Mining Extraction in Latin America
- Modern Decorative Arts and Design, 1900–2000
- Modern Populism in Latin America
- Modernity and Decoloniality
- Musical Tradition in Latin America, The
- Mystics and Mysticism
- Native Presence in Postconquest Central Peru
- Natural Disasters in Early Modern Latin America
- New Conquest History and the New Philology in Colonial Mes...
- New Left in Latin America, The
- Novel, Chronology of the Venezuelan
- Novel of the Mexican Revolution, The
- Novel, 19th Century Haitian
- Novel, The Colombian
- Nuns and Convents in Colonial Latin America
- Oaxaca, Conquest and Colonial
- Ortega, José y Gasset
- Painting in New Spain, 1521–1820
- Paraguayan War (War of the Triple Alliance)
- Pastoralism in the Andes
- Paz, Octavio
- Perón and Peronism
- Peru, Colonial
- Peru, Conquest of
- Peru, Slavery in
- Philippines Under Spanish Rule, 1571-1898
- Photography in the History of Race and Nation
- Political Exile in Latin America
- Ponce de León
- Popular Culture and Globalization
- Popular Movements in 19th-Century Latin America
- Portuguese-Spanish Interactions in Colonial South America
- Post Conquest Aztecs
- Post-Conquest Demographic Collapse
- Poverty in Latin America
- Preconquest Incas
- Pre-conquest Mesoamerican States, The
- Pre-Revolutionary Mexico, State and Nation Formation in
- Printing and the Book
- Prints and the Circulation of Colonial Images
- Protestantism in Latin America
- Puerto Rican Literature
- Religions in Latin America
- Revolution and Reaction in Central America
- Rosas, Juan Manuel de
- Sandinista Revolution and the FSLN, The
- Santo Domingo
- Science and Empire in the Iberian Atlantic
- Science and Technology in Modern Latin America
- Sephardic Culture
- Sexualities in Latin America and the Caribbean
- Slavery in Brazil
- São Paulo
- South American Dirty Wars
- South American Missions
- Spanish American Arab Literature
- Spanish and Portuguese Trade, 1500–1750
- Spanish Caribbean In The Colonial Period, The
- Spanish Colonial Decorative Arts, 1500-1825
- Spanish Florida
- Spiritual Conquest of Latin America, The
- Sports in Latin America and the Caribbean
- Telenovelas and Melodrama in Latin America
- Textile Traditions of the Andes
- 19th Century and Modernismo Poetry in Spanish America
- 20th-Century Mexico, Mass Media and Consumer Culture in
- 16th-Century New Spain
- Tourism in Modern Latin America
- Transculturation and Literature
- Trujillo, Rafael
- Tupac Amaru Rebellion, The
- United States and Castro's Cuba in the Cold War, The
- United States and the Guatemalan Revolution, The
- United States Invasion of the Dominican Republic, 1961–196...
- Urban History
- Urbanization in the 20th Century, Latin America’s
- US–Latin American Relations during the Cold War
- Vargas, Getúlio
- Venezuelan Literature
- Women and Labor in 20th-Century Latin America
- Women in Colonial Latin American History
- Women in Modern Latin American History
- Women's Property Rights, Asset Ownership, and Wealth in La...
- World War I in Latin America
- Zapatista Rebellion in Chiapas