In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Gender and History in the Andes

  • Introduction
  • General Overview of Gender and History in the Andes
  • Archaeological Overviews on Women and Gender in the Andes
  • Gender Topics in Andean Archaeology
  • Institutionalized Female Identity: Acllas and Specialized Labor in Andean Empires
  • Gender, History, and Myths of Female Power during the Colonial and Pre-Hispanic Periods
  • Gender in Colonial Andean History
  • Elite Indigenous Women under Iberian Conquest
  • Gender, Sexuality, and History in the Andes
  • Gendered Material Culture in Andean History
  • Gendered Visual Culture in Andean History
  • Violence and Female Resistance in the Andes
  • Female Religious Ideologies, Practices, and Identities in Colonial and Contemporary Andes
  • Queering Andean History
  • Kinship and Gender in Andean History
  • Subaltern Women and Agency in Andean History

Latin American Studies Gender and History in the Andes
Sofia Chacaltana Cortez
  • LAST REVIEWED: 26 May 2021
  • LAST MODIFIED: 26 May 2021
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199766581-0253


In Andean academia, a highly conservative environment, gender as a category of analysis has been an elusive and poorly understood concept. Despite the fact that in many countries of the Northern Hemisphere (where Euro-American knowledge is constructed), as well as South American countries, historians and anthropologists working from feminist perspectives have used gender theory since the 1980s, it is only in the 2010s that Andeanist scholars have begun to fully acknowledge that almost all historical narratives (from the Pre-Hispanic, Colonial, Republican and Contemporary Periods) excluded women as actors in all-important historical processes. As many Andean countries reevaluate their national republican discourses while celebrating the bicentennial of their independence, this flaw has become more evident. Hegemonic and historical accounts of South American independence movements, which highlight critical events and important historical figures, have focused on male figures and republican ideals mostly based on masculine values. Disseminating history from a masculine viewpoint, these narratives ignore women and other marginalized social groups, including indigenous and Afro-descendant communities, and fail to recognize their role as agents of political change. Consequently, using these narratives in the construction of national identities and citizenship has created social inequalities. The exclusion of women and nonbinary gender identities from the narrative has been noticed and acknowledged not only by academics, but also by society in general. Therefore, academic institutions and nonprofit organizations have promoted the publication and investigation of gender topics in history. However, archaeology, an isolated discipline immersed in its own discussions and dynamics, has developed in its own way. In general, opportunistic discoveries of “great and powerful women” have positioned archaeologists (mostly men) and their interpretations of the Andean past and power in an uncomfortable position. How to interpret these contexts using societal models that envision female bodies and feminine collectivities in a perpetually subordinated role? How to understand them without the tools of feminism and decolonial and anthropological theory? How to construct complex roles for Andean women in the past from a place in the present where that seems impossible and unimaginable (or even subversive)? From an Andean political awakening that takes a deep historical perspective, gender theory is under (de)construction. The topic of gender and history in the Andes is not about placing some female figures and mixing them up in an already hegemonic history; it is about creating innovative visions of the past, where multiple historical voices from the past and present appear.

General Overview of Gender and History in the Andes

This section includes compilations of gender topics and women in different historical processes and situations in Andean history. Among these are some that focus on gender and women’s stories in the Andes from ancient times to contemporary historical periods. Interestingly, most likely due to the rich archaeological past and the early presence of feminist research identifying Andean women as social and historical agents in Peru, some studies have incorporated pre-Hispanic women into their stories. This section contains general overviews that had a longue durée perspective. Among them are García y García 1924–1925, which represents the first and therefore a very valuable text that placed women in the national historical narrative; Meza and Hampe 2007; García and Guardia 2002; Guardia 2013; and, more recently, Rosas Lauro 2019 (it is important to mention that this last work includes an article on the topic of masculinity, a theme almost absent in gender and history in the Andes). Other compilations have focused on the history of women from the Colonial to more recent periods. These types of compilations are common in various Andean countries, such as Lavrin 1995 for Argentina, Chile, and Uruguay; Zegarra 1999 for Peru; Romo-Lereoux 1983 and Moscoso Carvallo 2009 for Ecuador; and Stuven and Fermandois 2011 for Chile.

  • García, Juan Andreo, and Sara Beatriz Guardia, eds. Historia de las mujeres en América Latina. Murcia, Spain: Universidad de Murcia, CEMHAL, Fundación SENECA, 2002.

    This is an edited volume with nine chapters from the Inca to the Colonial and Republican Periods. It also includes other topics such as the beginnings of feminism in Peru, politics and women citizenship, writing practices of women during the 19th and 20th centuries, and historiographic revisions of the history of women in Latin America.

  • García y García, Elvira. La mujer peruana a través de los siglos: Serie historiada de estudios y observaciones. Vols. 1 and 2. Lima, Peru: Imprenta Americana, 1924–1925.

    This work includes two volumes on biographies of Peruvian woman (from the pre-Hispanic to the first two decades of the 20th century) to understand their importance in the construction of Peruvian history. It includes engravings and paintings, and a chapter that focuses on women in art.

  • Guardia, Beatriz. Mujeres peruanas: El otro lado de la historia. 5th ed. Lima, Peru: CEMHAL, 2013.

    This book takes a longue durée perspective regarding the history of women, from ancient Andean societies (1200 BCE) to the mid-20th century (1960). It has twenty-two chapters and provides a perspective on gender throughout Peruvian history.

  • Lavrin, Asuncion. Women, Feminism and Social Change, Argentina, Chile and Uruguay 1890–1940. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1995.

    This book looks at the beginnings of feminism and women’s struggle for equal rights in Argentina, Chile, and Uruguay during two different generations (1890 to 1940). Some of the topics covered include women’s labor rights, fair wages, equal participation in politics, and women’s suffrage. The book also contains other topics related to women such as childcare, public health, maternity, sexuality, reproduction, abortion laws, and divorce.

  • Meza, Carmen, and Teodoro Hampe, eds. La mujer en la historia del Perú (siglos XV y XX). Lima: Fondo Editorial del Congreso del Perú, 2007.

    This book contains fifteen articles, including two about the pre-Hispanic Andes, seven about the Colonial Period, and six from the Republican Period. One of the two articles about the Pre-Hispanic Period is by distinguished Peruvian historian María Rostworowski. Other articles that are important to mention because of their perspective on gender are Vergara, Mannarelli, and Zegarra, on the Colonial and Republican Periods.

  • Moscoso Carvallo, Martha, ed. Historia de mujeres e historia de género en el Ecuador. 2d ed. Quito, Ecuador: Edición IPANC-CAB, 2009.

    This book is about the history of women and gender in Ecuador. It has three chapters: 1. “Women and Ethnic Identities”; 2. “Women in History”; and 3. “Women and Writing.”

  • Romo-Lereoux, Ketty. La mujer, dura lucha por la igualdad. Guayaquil, Ecuador: Universidad de Guayaquil, 1983.

    This text was published to commemorate the celebration of the bicentennial of Ecuadorian independence. It focuses on women in Inca history and the Colonial and Republican Periods in Ecuador.

  • Rosas Lauro, Claudia, ed. Género y mujeres en la historia del Perú: Del hogar al espacio público. Lima: Fondo Editorial de la Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú, 2019.

    This work contains two articles about the pre-Hispanic past, five articles about gender during the Colonial Period, seven articles about femininity, masculinity, and homosexuality during the 18th and 19th centuries, eight articles about Peruvian feminism in the 19th and 20th centuries, and five articles on gender, ethnicity, work, and honor during the 19th to 21st centuries. Articles in this volume are articulated through a multidisciplinary gender perspective.

  • Stuven, Ana María, and Joaquin Fermandois, eds. Historia de las mujeres en Chile. Vol. 1. Santiago, Chile: Editorial Taurus, 2011.

    This edited volume consists of ten articles focusing on women during the Colonial Period, indigenous women’s experiences (Mapuche, Rapanui, and Aymara), women’s daily life during the 18th and 19th centuries, the role of women during the “War of the Pacific” among Chile, Bolivia, and Peru, and the role of Chilean women in an urban environment during the 19th century.

  • Zegarra, F. Margarita, ed. Mujeres y género en la historia del Perú. Lima, Peru: Cendoc Mujer, 1999.

    This edited volume contains twenty-seven articles, and it is based on contributions at a conference about “Gender and Peruvian History” held in 1966 in Lima. This book includes articles from the Colonial to Modern Historical Periods and takes a multidisciplinary perspective, including history, anthropology, sociology, and literature and incorporating topics from different parts of Peru as well as one from Chile.

back to top

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.