Latin American Studies Women in Colonial Latin American History
by
Susan M. Socolow
  • LAST REVIEWED: 05 May 2017
  • LAST MODIFIED: 28 October 2011
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199766581-0037

Introduction

The history of women in colonial Latin America has been a productive and exciting field since the mid-1970s. The study of women in the colonial empires of Spain and Portugal began in the final quarter of the 20th century, clearly influenced by the feminist movement and work by scholars in U.S. history. Although at least one male scholar had already produced a thin volume on the subject, his work, lacking a feminist perspective, tended to be ignored. Initial work on women was heavily politicized, presenting women as the victims of sexism and patriarchy and assuming that gender created a common “sisterhood” that trumped race and class. But during the 1980s, a more balanced historiography began to appear as scholars began to point out that the experience of a white elite woman was far different from, for example, a rural Indian woman. Moreover, historians became more sensitive to the range of variation within any social or racial group. More recent work, drawing in part from the work of subaltern studies, has tended to “empower” colonial women, seeing them as more able to overcome the structural limitations of their lives than previously thought. At the same time, as there were changes in interpretation of women’s actions, historians grew aware of new and far more varied sources then originally imagined. These sources include dowries, wills, probate records, parish records, Inquisition proceedings, both civil and criminal judicial cases, spiritual dowries, personal letters as well as censuses, donor lists, and notary and Cabildo records. While women of different economic and social strata have been studied, in general elite women, indigenous women, and female slaves have received the most attention. Still needed is more work on women from “middling groups,” such as artisans and small shop owners, as well as on poor women, many of whom were of mixed race. Whether women’s conditions improved over time is another issue that calls for more research. There is some suggestion that women’s roles were more fluid in the early colonial period, but few works have attempted to systematically compare women’s ability to mold their own lives across the colonial centuries. In addition it is not clear whether Enlightenment reforms improved or worsened the female situation.

General Overviews

The works listed in this section provide a general overview of the role of women in colonial Latin American society while stressing different aspects of the female experience in colonial Latin America. Pescatello 1976, the first book to provide an overview of women in colonial Ibero-America, argued that patriarchy was the overriding model for these societies. While Burkett 1977 did not challenge this model, it underlined the importance of race and class in understanding how gender worked in the colonial society. Shortly thereafter, the path-breaking anthologies edited by Asunción Lavrin (see Lavrin 1978 and Lavrin 1989) and her contribution to the Cambridge History of Latin America (see Lavrin 1984) presented a more complex vision of the lives of colonial women. Arrom 1985 focuses on Mexico City. The early 21st century produced Socolow 2000, an overview of the experience of women in colonial society, as well as Powers 2005 and Kellogg 2005, two books that concentrate on indigenous women.

  • Arrom, Silvia Marina. The Women of Mexico City, 1790–1857. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1985.

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    Provides a good overview of the women of Mexico City in the late colonial period and the wars of independence.

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    • Burkett, Elinor. “In Dubious Sisterhood: Class and Sex in Spanish Colonial America.” Latin American Perspectives 4.1–2 (1977): 18–26.

      DOI: 10.1177/0094582X7700400104Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

      A controversial article in its time that argues forcefully for the importance of race and social class in understanding women’s experiences.

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      • Kellogg, Susan. Weaving the Past: A History of Latin America’s Indigenous Women from the Prehispanic Period to the Present. New York: Oxford University Press, 2005.

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        A history of indigenous women with special attention to pre-Colombian and colonial societies.

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        • Lavrin, Asunción, ed. Latin American Women: Historical Perspectives. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1978.

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          A path-breaking anthology with solid articles on women in colonial Mexico, Peru, and Brazil as well as others on modern Latin America.

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          • Lavrin, Asunción. “Women in Spanish American Colonial Society.” In The Cambridge History of Latin America. Edited by Leslie Bethell, 2:321–355. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1984.

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            A thoughtful article that covers several important topics (race, marriage, kinship, status, occupations, social mores and deviance, and education).

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            • Lavrin, Asunción, ed. Sexuality and Marriage in Colonial Latin America. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1989.

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              A strong introduction by Lavrin is followed by five articles on sexuality, sexual witchcraft, and the Church’s attempt to curb both; and four pieces on marriage and legal separation. Many of the articles in this collection have become classics.

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              • Pescatello, Ann M. Power and Pawn: The Female in Iberian Families, Societies and Cultures. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1976.

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                Reacting against the first generation feminist idea that Hispanic women were spiritually superior to men and controlled their own destiny, Pescatello stresses the importance of patriarchy throughout all regions influenced by Spain and Portugal as well as in pre-Colombian societies.

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                • Powers, Karen Vieira. Women in the Crucible of Conquest: The Gendered Genesis of Spanish American Society, 1500–1600. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2005.

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                  Stresses the victimization of indigenous women who found their rights to property and access to resources curtailed by Spanish policies. Mestizas fared slightly better, but even nuns were intellectually exploited by their male confessors.

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                  • Socolow, Susan Migden. The Women of Colonial Latin America. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2000.

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                    A history of colonial women that emphasizes the importance of social position, race, and civil status on female roles and power.

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                    Pre-Conquest Women

                    Historians’ and anthropologists’ growing interest in pre-conquest societies has extended to women’s experiences. Although initial work focused on Inca women, much of the subsequent studies have centered on the Aztecs. Scholars of pre-conquest Aztec society see women as having important roles within their households (see Burkhart 1997), in establishing kinship ties (see Kellogg 1998 and Schroeder 1998), as wives and mothers (see Clendinnen 1991), and in their religious roles (see Kellogg 1995). Silverblatt 1987, written by the preeminent scholar working on pre-conquest Peru, has a less sanguine view of the role of women in the Andes. Silverblatt believes that women were important social actors in pre-Inca societies but saw that power disappear from then on.

                    • Burkhart, Louise M. “Mexica Women on the Home Front: Housework and Religion in Aztec Mexico.” In Indian Women of Early Mexico. Edited by Susan Schroeder, Stephanie Wood, and Robert Haskett, 25–54. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1997.

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                      Underlines the close relationship of women to the home, the importance of cleanliness and order within their abodes, their role as guardians of the home front, and the role of women’s work in defining female identity.

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                      • Clendinnen, Inga. Aztecs: An Interpretation. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1991.

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                        One of the first works to consider female roles in Aztec society by closely examining wives and mothers within this pre-Columbian culture.

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                        • Kellogg, Susan. “The Woman’s Room: Some Aspects of Gender Relations in Tenochtitlan in the Late Pre-Hispanic Period.” Ethnohistory 42.2 (Autumn 1995): 563–576.

                          DOI: 10.2307/483143Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                          In a class-based society that conceived of parallel female and male spheres, Kellogg finds that women had significant public roles in religion, administration, and the economy.

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                          • Kellogg, Susan. “Cognatic Kinship and Religion: Women in Aztec Society.” In Smoke and Mist: Mesoamerican Studies in Memory of Thelma D. Sullivan. Edited by J. Kathryn Josserand and Karen Dakin, 666–681. Oxford: BAR International Series, 1998.

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                            Sees women having parallel roles in to men in Aztec religion, while their social roles were more ambivalent and complex.

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                            • Schroeder, Susan. “The First American Valentine: Nahua Courtship and Other Aspects of Family Structuring in Mesoamerica.” Journal of Family History 23.4 (October 1998): 341–354.

                              DOI: 10.1177/036319909802300401Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                              Beginning with the courtship of an additional wife for a late 14th-century Aztec ruler, the author provides information on large elite households complete with multiple wives, children, attendants, servants, and slaves as well as on the politics of royal marriage.

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                              • Silverblatt, Irene. Moon, Sun and Witches: Gender Ideologies and Class in Inca and Colonial Peru. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1987.

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                                Argues that the position and power of Andean pre-Colombian women declined under the Incas and even more so with the arrival of the Spaniards.

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                                Women in the Iberian Peninsula

                                Another field that has seen a dramatic growth in popularity since the 1990s has been the history of women in Spain. Interestingly, Perry 1990, the first important study of Spanish women, centered on Seville, the port of embarkation for people and goods going to the New World. Other topics that have received attention from both Spanish and foreign scholars are women and law (see Kelleher 2010), non-Christian women (see Melammed 1999 and Perry 2005), women and court politics (see Sánchez 1998), everyday women’s lives (see Dillard 1984 and Poska 2005), religious women (see Lehfeldt 2005), and women and the Enlightenment (see Smith 2006). Far less has been published about women in Portugal.

                                • Dillard, Heath. Daughters of the Reconquest: Women in Castilian Town Society, 1100–1300. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1984.

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                                  Dillard focuses on the women who migrated to new settlements and their experiences as brides, wives, widows, mistresses, and workers and as women with or without honor. She finds women to have played an important role in the creation of Christian society in formerly Muslim lands.

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                                  • Kelleher, Marie A. The Measure of Woman: Law and Female Identity in the Crown of Aragon. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2010.

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                                    Examines the position of women in the late 13th and early 14th centuries with special emphasis on women and property and on crime and violence against women.

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                                    • Lehfeldt, Elizabeth A. Religious Women in Golden Age Spain: The Permeable Cloister. Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2005.

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                                      Covers the issues that brought cloistered nuns into contact with the larger society including their relationship with patrons, their role as estate managers, lawsuits, and monastic reform.

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                                      • Melammed, Renée Levine. Heretics or Daughters of Israel?: The Crypto-Jewish Women of Castile. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999.

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                                        Uses a variety of documents to tell the story of secret-Jewish women from the pogroms of 1391 through the end of the 16th century. Melammed uses Inquisition documents to uncover the everyday life of these women and their accusers. She argues that the role of women in preserving Judiasm increased after 1492 when the religion was forced underground.

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                                        • Perry, Mary Elizabeth. Gender and Disorder in Early Modern Seville. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1990.

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                                          Against the backdrop of Counter-Reformation piety, Perry finds a “landscape of piety and profanity” in the bustling port city, including female hustlers (prostitutes, procuresses, fortune-tellers), married women whose husbands had gone to America leaving them to fend for themselves and their children, and religious women (nuns, beatas, mystics).

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                                          • Perry, Mary Elizabeth. The Handless Maiden: Moriscos and the Politics of Religion in Early Modern Spain. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2005.

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                                            A history of the Spanish Muslims after their defeat in 1492 that highlights the role of women in preserving the group’s cultural and religion.

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                                            • Poska, Allyson M. Women and Authority in Early Modern Spain: The Peasants of Galicia. New York: Oxford University Press, 2005.

                                              DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199265312.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                              A detailed study of a region in Spain known for the out-migration of men. Women—single, married, and widowed—were able successfully to take control of their lives and property.

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                                              • Sánchez, Magdalena S. The Empress, the Queen, and the Nun: Women and Power at the Court of Philip III of Spain. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1998.

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                                                Argues that Empress María, Margaret of Austria, and Margaret of the Cross used their piety to influence political decision making during the reign of Philip III.

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                                                • Smith, Theresa Ann. The Emerging Female Citizen: Gender and Enlightenment in Spain. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2006.

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                                                  Documents the emergence of women writers and thinkers in 18th century Spain at the same time as she shows how difficult it was for these elite women to deal with both reform-minded men and the Inquisition.

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                                                  Iberian Women in America

                                                  The experience of Spanish and Portuguese-born women in America is a relatively little studied topic. In addition, much of the work that addresses this topic was published in the 1980s. Most scholars mention Iberian women within the larger rubric of male experience; see, for example, Altman 1989 and Cook and Cook 1991. The major exceptions are a chapter about women in Lockhart 1994, Martín 1983, and the Guevara letter reproduced in Hahner 1976.

                                                  • Altman, Ida. Emigrants and Society: Extramadura and Spanish America in the Sixteenth Century. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1989.

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                                                    An interesting study of the migration of people from two cities in Extramadura (Cáceres and Trujillo) to Spanish America contains some information about women and marriage.

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                                                    • Cook, Alexander Parma, and Noble David Cook. Good Faith and Truthful Ignorance: A Case of Transatlantic Bigamy. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1991.

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                                                      The story of an early Spanish immigrant to Peru, who, believing his wife had died back in Spain, married the widow of a high court judge in America. Eleven years later, the couple returned to Spain only to find out that the first wife was still alive. A dramatic example of the hazards of life in America for the men and women who came in the early years of conquest.

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                                                      • Hahner, June. Women in Latin American History: Their Lives and Views. Los Angeles: UCLA Latin American Center Publications, University of California, 1976.

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                                                        This collection reproduces three interesting colonial documents written by women: a letter written by Isabel de Guevara describing the hardships of abandoning Buenos Aires, Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz’ response to the Bishop of Mexico, and a letter authored by Michaela Bastidas Puyucahua to her husband, the late 18th century Peruvian rebel leader José Gabriel Tupac Amaru.

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                                                        • Lockhart, James. “Spanish Women and the Second Generation.” In Spanish Peru, 1532–1560: A Social History. 2d ed. By James Lockhart.,169–192. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1994.

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                                                          A strong chapter on the relatively small group of Spanish women present in the early years of the conquest and settlement of Peru. Ethnicity, social class, marital status, and the fate of mestiza daughters are all discussed.

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                                                          • Martín, Luis. Daughters of the Conquistadores: Women of the Viceroyalty of Peru. Dallas: Southern Methodist Press, 1983.

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                                                            The only book that concentrates on Spanish and Spanish-descendant women. Martin presents rich anecdotes on nuns, beatas, tapadas (covered women), and others.

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                                                            Indigenous Women

                                                            Beginning with the pioneering work of Charles Gibson in the 1950s and 1960s, ethnohistory emerged as an important sub-field of colonial Latin American history. In the 1980s, scholars began to investigate the role of indigenous women during and after the conquest. Studies range from examinations of the roles of Indian women in urban centers (see Salomon 1988) to women in rural settings, missions and the borderlands (see Bouvier 2001). In Mexico, Malintzin, an Indian woman who herself had been captured by the Mayans, was crucial to Cortés’s capture of the Aztec Empire (see Townsend 2006). Work such as Cline 1993 and Schroeder, et al. 1997, centered on Aztec, Mixteca, Zapatec, and Maya women, both commoners and members of the local elite, has examined women’s social roles, religious identity, and marriage patterns. In Peru, women belonging to the Inca nobility were given as gifts to leading Spanish conquistadores. Their mestiza daughters were highly desired marriage candidates, prized for both their illustrious lineage and the wealth they had been granted (see Rostworowski de Diez Canseco 2003). This was not the treatment accorded the mass of Indian women (see Graubart 2007). Questions related to the exploitation of indigenous women under colonial rule continue to be discussed in works like Zulawski 1990, but it is also clear that in regions where a native nobility survived, indigenous women exercised some economic and social power. Some scholars suggest that in urban settings, indigenous women were instrumental in creating a culture that mixed Spanish and Indian elements (see Burkett 1978 and Salomon 1988).

                                                            • Bouvier, Virginia Marie. Women and the Conquest of California, 1542–1840: Codes of Silence. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2001.

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                                                              A fine study of the experiences of Indian women in the Spanish missions along the California coast includes material on colonization, life in the missions, sexuality and marriage, and accommodation and resistance.

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                                                              • Burkett, Elinor. “Indian Women and White Society: The Case of Sixteenth-Century Peru.” In Latin American Women: Historical Perspectives. Edited by Asunción Lavrin, 101–128. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1978.

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                                                                Argues that urban indigenous women, often servants in Spanish households, were able to acculturate more quickly than men and to effectively use that knowledge of the mainstream society to their advantage.

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                                                                • Cline, Sarah. “The Spiritual Conquest Re-examined: Baptism and Christian Marriage in Early Sixteenth-Century Mexico.” Hispanic American Historical Review 73.3 (August 1993): 453–480.

                                                                  DOI: 10.2307/2517698Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                  Believes friars were initially unsuccessful in convincing indigenous people to undertake Christian marriage, possibly because pre-Hispanic marriage allowed for divorce, polygamy and gave concubines a recognized status.

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                                                                  • Graubart, Karen B. With Our Labor and Sweat: Indigenous Women and the Formation of Colonial Society in Peru, 1550–1700. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2007.

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                                                                    Finds that although the conquest produced several imported changes within indigenous communities, women responded to new challenges with vigor and invention. Among their strategies were out-migration, conversion to Christianity, and employment in a wide range of occupations.

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                                                                    • Rostworowski de Diez Canseco, María. Doña Francisca Pizarro: Una ilustre mestiza, 1564–1598. Lima, Peru: Instituto de Estudios Peruanos, 2003.

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                                                                      The biography of a mestizo daughter of the Spanish conquistador, Hernando Pizarro, and his mistress, the Inca princess, Quispe Sisa (later called Doña Inés Muñoz). Doña Francisca inherited land, grants of Indian labor, local political power (curacazgo), and wealth.

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                                                                      • Salomon, Frank. “Indian Women of Early Colonial Quito as Seen through Their Testaments.” The Americas 44.3 (January 1988): 325–341.

                                                                        DOI: 10.2307/1006910Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                        Studies the goods mentioned in the wills and inventories of indigenous women to analyze the degree of Hispanization that they adopted. Finds a wide range in the individual degree of acculturation that includes women who combined European elements with those taken from several indigenous cultures.

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                                                                        • Schroeder, Susan, Stephanie Gail Wood, and Robert Stephen Haskett, eds. Indian Women of Early Mexico. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1997.

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                                                                          A rich group of articles on indigenous women before and after the Spanish conquest. Among the topics included are women in missions and along the frontier, marriage patterns, work, political power, crime, rebellion, and social identity.

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                                                                          • Townsend, Camilla. Malintzin’s Choices: An Indian Woman in the Conquest of Mexico. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2006.

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                                                                            A sensitive telling of the life of the Indian women who accompanied Cortés in the conquest of Mexico, serving as his interpreter, confidant, and mistress. Malintzin (later known as Doña Marina) is portrayed as resourceful and intelligent woman who successfully moved between cultures.

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                                                                            • Zulawski, Ann. “Social Differentiation, Gender, and Ethnicity: Urban Indian Women in Colonial Bolivia, 1640–1725.” Latin American Research Review 25.2 (1990): 93–113.

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                                                                              Challenging those who believe that indigenous women were able to manipulate the colonial system more effectively than men, Zulawski finds that women, forced to work under dire necessity, experienced the greatest oppression.

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                                                                              Slaves and Free Women of Color

                                                                              Although slave women could be found on the plantations in sugar-producing regions in Spanish and Portuguese America, women of color, black and mulatto, slave and free, were far more numerous in the cities of town of the Iberian empires where they worked in a range of domestic jobs. In addition, the position of women of color and their ability to achieve freedom and some degree of financial stability varied greatly from place to place depending on the general availability of women. Mining regions, where white women were in short supply, seem to have provided women of color with the greatest opportunities, often beginning as concubines and at times ending as wealthy, successful, and independent women. Several scholars have also examined the marriage and family patterns of people of color as well as the effect of gender on manumission. In general, women tended to gain their freedom more often than men, both through their owner’s grants of freedom or by self-purchase. There are also interesting examples of women born into slavery who won their freedom using social and matrimonial strategies.

                                                                              • Dantas, Mariana L. R. Black Townsmen: Urban Slavery and Freedom in the Eighteenth-Century Americas. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008.

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                                                                                A detailed comparison of the experience of female and male urban slaves in Baltimore, Maryland, and Sabará, Minas Gerais, Brazil.

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                                                                                • Furtado, Júnia Ferreira. Chica da Silva: A Brazilian Slave of the Eighteenth Century. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2009.

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                                                                                  A detailed study of a mulatto slave born in the diamond mining region of Minas Gerais in the early 18th century who became the mistress of a diamond contractor and chief judge. Manumitted by her lover/owner, the couple lived together for fifteen years and produced thirteen children.

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                                                                                  • Higgins, Kathleen J. “Licentious Liberty” in a Brazilian Gold-Mining Region: Slavery, Gender and Social Control in Eighteenth-Century Sabará, Minas Gerais. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1999.

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                                                                                    The economic, social and religious experience of slave and free women of color in a gold rush city. It was not unusual for these women, ranging from the poor to people of means, to display a surprising degree of autonomy.

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                                                                                    • Love, Edgar F. “Marriage Patterns of Persons of African Descent in a Colonial Mexico City Parish.” Hispanic American Historical Review 51.1 (February 1971): 79–91.

                                                                                      DOI: 10.2307/2512614Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                      An analysis of parish registers in Mexico City from the mid-16th to the mid-17th century finds free people of color married more frequently than slaves. In addition, female slaves, both black and mulatto, were more likely to marry enslaved partners than were male slaves.

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                                                                                      • Metcalf, Alida C. “Searching for the Slave Family in Colonial Brazil: A Reconstruction from São Paulo.” Journal of Family History 16.3 (1991): 283–297.

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                                                                                        Metcalf finds that a large number of slaves married and that they lived in nuclear families and had several children, although these numbers were all lower than those of free people. She suggests that slave families were broken up at the time of their master’s death because of inheritance laws. Thus, the mortality of their masters greatly affected the ability of the slave family to remain intact.

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                                                                                        • Proctor, Frank “Trey”, III. “Gender and the Manumission of Slaves in New Spain.” Hispanic American Historical Review 86.2 (May 2006): 309–336.

                                                                                          DOI: 10.1215/00182168-2005-005Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                          A study of slave manumissions across Iberian America that sees manumission as a gendered social process. Finds that women freed many slaves throughout the region, and tended to free female slaves and children.

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                                                                                          • Robertson, Claire. “Africa into the Americas?: Slavery and Women, the Family, and the Gender Division of Labor.” In More than Chattel: Black Women and Slavery in the Americas. Edited by Darlene Clark Hines and David Barry Gaspar, 3–40. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1996.

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                                                                                            A comparison of female slavery in Africa and the Americas highlighting forms of slavery, gender ideology, the slave family, the gendered division of labor, and fertility.

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                                                                                            • Robertson, Claire C., and Martin A. Klein, eds. Women and Slavery in Africa. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1983.

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                                                                                              An important collection of articles that show that most slaves in sub-Saharan Africa were women, as were many slave owners. Among other topics discussed are the demand for female slaves, their function in production and reproduction, their relative assimilation in matrilineal or patrilineal societies, and the various types of slavery.

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                                                                                              Elite Women

                                                                                              Making up a small proportion of the population, elite women, almost uniformly American-born women of Iberian extraction, enjoyed the privileges of wealth and social position. Paradoxically they were far more restricted in their behavior than others, for any unacceptable behavior was seen as a stain on their family’s honor. Elite women tended to marry and, because of their social position, usually brought a dowry into marriage. These dowries could include household goods, slaves, jewelry and other luxury items, furniture, clothing, and cash. By the end of the 18th century, some young women used the courts to defy their parents’ wishes and chose their own marriage partners. Because Iberian inheritance laws gave widows half of the marital assets and allowed female and male children equal shares of their parents’ estates, some of these women controlled large amounts of wealth.

                                                                                              • Couturier, Edith. “Women in a Noble Family: The Mexican Counts of Regla, 1750–1830.” In Latin American Women: Historical Perspectives. Edited by Asunción Lavrin, 129–149. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1978.

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                                                                                                The story of eight women in the powerful Regla family, four of whom filled traditional female roles (wives, mothers) and four of whom achieved economic and social independence.

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                                                                                                • Couturier, Edith. “‘For the Greater Service of God’: Opulent Foundations and Women’s Philanthropy in Colonial Mexico.” In Lady Bountiful Revisited: Women, Philanthropy, and Power. Edited by Kathleen D. McCarthy, 119–141. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1990.

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                                                                                                  Compares how women and men used charitable giving to fulfill their spiritual and social obligations. Finds that wealthy women tended to give money to female convents, dowry funds, endowments for widows, and shelters for women and to name other women (including family members) as recipients of their charity.

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                                                                                                  • Lavrin, Asunción, and Edith Couturier. “Dowries and Wills: A View of Women’s Socioeconomic Role in Colonial Guadalajara and Puebla, 1640–1790.” Hispanic American Historical Review 59.2 (May 1979): 280–304.

                                                                                                    DOI: 10.2307/2514415Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                    Dowries of brides living in cities usually contained moveable household goods, cash, and slaves but rarely real estate. Those in rural areas were frequently given animals and metal ingots. In all cases, dowries significantly improved the couple’s financial position. The authors also point out that poor women did not need a dowry in order to marry.

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                                                                                                    • Metcalf, Alida C. “Women and Means: Women and Family Property in Colonial Brazil.” Journal of Social History 24.2 (Winter 1991): 277–298.

                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1353/jsh/24.2.277Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                      Underlines tension between female property rights and patriarchal culture in the Iberian world. Finds that type of locale (e.g., frontier town, capital city) and life stage of woman (i.e., single, marriage, widowed) greatly influenced her property rights, responsibilities and power.

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                                                                                                      • Nazarri, Muriel. Disappearance of the Dowry: Women, Families, and Social Change in São Paulo, Brazil, 1600–1900. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1991.

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                                                                                                        Underlining changes in love, marriage, and the importance of a dowry over 400 years, Nazarri suggests that as the dowry became less important marriages based on love became more prevalent. Nonetheless, in periods when women received large dowries, these grants conferred a degree of power to them.

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                                                                                                        • Socolow, Susan Migden. “Marriage, Birth, and Inheritance: The Merchants of Eighteenth Century Buenos Aires.” Hispanic American Historical Review 60.3 (August 1980): 387–406.

                                                                                                          DOI: 10.2307/2513266Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                          An article that analyzes the fertility of elite women and its effects on the ability to pass wealth between generations.

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                                                                                                          • Socolow, Susan Migden. “Acceptable Partners: Marriage Choice in Colonial Argentina, 1778–1810.” In Sexuality and Marriage in Colonial Latin America. Edited by Asunción Lavrin, 209–246. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1989.

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                                                                                                            Examines disenso cases in which elite young men and women sued their parents for permission to marry the person of their choice.

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                                                                                                            • Twinam, Ann. “Honor, Sexuality and Illegitimacy in Colonial Spanish America.” In Sexuality and Marriage in Colonial America. Edited by Asunción Lavrin, 118–155. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1989.

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                                                                                                              A discussion of honor, sexuality, and illegitimacy is followed by options available to elite women to maintain their honor in spite of premarital pregnancy. Foremost was immediate marriage or a private pregnancy, although extended engagement could also work. Twinam stresses the dichotomy between private reality and public reputation among the colonial Latin American elite.

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                                                                                                              • Twinam, Ann. Public Lives, Private Secrets: Gender, Honor, Sexuality and Illegitimacy in Colonial Spanish America. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1999.

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                                                                                                                A research tour-de-force that reconstructs the effect of illegitimacy on children born out of wedlock to elite women as well as what illegitimacy meant to their mothers and fathers.

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                                                                                                                Marriage

                                                                                                                The Catholic Church both performed and closely controlled sacramental marriage. The Church established the minimum age, civil conditions, and degree of consanguinity that determined who could marry (see Ripodas 1977 and Silva 1984). Nonetheless, in the 16th and 17th centuries, the Church encouraged marriage of those who met its requirements and who were exercising their own free will (see Seed 1988a and Seed 1988b). Over time, marriage increasingly became more and more closely related to race and social class (see Ramos 1975 and Ramos 1991). The elite composed the group most likely to marry and form stable families; they also were the most concerned with transmission of property between and across generations. Before and after marriage, the sexuality of elite women was strictly controlled, but their husbands were rarely sanctioned for having sexual relations with other women and fathering illegitimate children. Mission Indians living under the watchful eyes of priests and friars were eventually the second group most likely to be married (see Cline 1993). In spite of Church doctrine, other forms of “couplehood” were the norm for the majority of men and women in the colonial world (see MaCaa 1994).

                                                                                                                • Cline, Sarah. “The Spiritual Conquest Re-examined: Baptism and Christian Marriage in Early Sixteenth-Century Mexico.” Hispanic American Historical Review 73.3 (August 1993): 453–480.

                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.2307/2517698Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                  Believes friars were initially unsuccessful in convincing indigenous people to undertake Christian marriage, possibly because pre-Hispanic marriage allowed for divorce and polygamy and also gave concubines a recognized status.

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                                                                                                                  • McCaa, Robert. “Marriageways in Mexico and Spain, 1500–1900.” Continuity and Change 9.1 (May 1994): 11–43.

                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1017/S026841600000415XSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                    Examines “couplehood” (church-sanctioned married, cohabitation, and concubinage), comparing Spain and Mexico. Finds that in the 16th century Mexican couplehood was universal and began at the age of puberty. In spite of the position of the Catholic Church, by the end of the colonial period premarital sexual relations were standard before marriage.

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                                                                                                                    • Ramos, Donald. “Marriage and the Family in Colonial Vila Rica.” Hispanic American Historical Review 55.2 (May 1975): 200–225.

                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.2307/2512094Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                      A study of family structure as reflected in the 1804 census. Ramos finds that there were few patriarchal extended families and that, instead, many nuclear families were headed by women. He also argues that marriage was a status symbol, restricted by Church policy to the local elite.

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                                                                                                                      • Ramos, Donald. “Single and Married Women in Vila Rica, Brazil, 1754–1838.” Journal of Family History 16.3 (Fall 1991): 261–282.

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                                                                                                                        A study of one urban area and four rural areas concentrating on the sex ratio, racial distribution, household composition, percentage married, age difference between husband and wife, and age of women at time of their first birth. Finds that single-woman head of household was more common in urban setting and among blacks.

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                                                                                                                        • Ripodas Ardanaz, Daisy. El matrimonio en Indias: Realidad social y regulación juridical. Buenos Aires: Fundación para la Educación, la Ciencia y la Cultura, 1977.

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                                                                                                                          A solid study of the legal dimensions of marriage including engagement, bans, impediments to marriage, parental consent, and royal prohibitions.

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                                                                                                                          • Seed, Patricia. To Love, Honor, and Obey in Colonial Mexico. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1988a.

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                                                                                                                            A study of the attitude of the Catholic Church toward marriage argues that the Church gradually abandoned its policy of free will in the choice of marriage partners and increasingly gave parents the power to prevent the union of social unequals.

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                                                                                                                            • Seed, Patricia. “Marriage Promises and the Value of a Women’s Testimony in Colonial Mexico.” Signs 13.2 (1988b): 252–276.

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                                                                                                                              Seed traces changes in engagement customs, the value of the spoken promise to marry, and the growth of dishonorable conduct on the part of men. The result was that deflowered women settled for, at best, a monetary payment and the loss of their honor instead of marriage.

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                                                                                                                              • Silva, Maria Beatriz Nizza da. Sistema de casamento no Brasil colonial. São Paulo: Editora da Universidade de São Paulo, 1984.

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                                                                                                                                A solid study of marriage that presents a wealth of information ranging from indigenous marriage practices and concubinage to courtship, the marriage process, the married life, and divorce.

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                                                                                                                                Women and Work

                                                                                                                                It was not uncommon for nonelite women, especially single women and widows, to work in order to survive. Women were engaged in a wide array of occupations that were often extensions of “women’s work.” These included weavers (see Villanueva 1985), seamstresses, washerwomen, domestic servants, wet nurses, bakers, cooks, producers and sellers of drink (see Couturier 1981) and foodstuffs, and candle makers. Indian, black, and mixed-blood women could be found selling in the markets of most cities and towns or going door to door selling their wares (see Gauderman 2003 and Mangan 2005). In the late 18th century, government-owned tobacco factories employed large groups of women in the principle cities of the colonies (see Deans-Smith 1992). Although exploited in certain crafts such as weaving, market women and producers and venders of foodstuffs were able to enjoy a degree of freedom and advance economically. Moreover, prosperous market women also provided small loans to other women.

                                                                                                                                • Couturier, Edith. “Micaela Angela Carrillo: Widow and Pulque Dealer.” In Struggle and Survival in Colonial America. Edited by David G. Sweet and Gary B. Nash, 362–375. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1981.

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                                                                                                                                  Using litigation over Carrillo’s will after her death, Couturier tells the story of a self-made woman who, through the production and sale of pulque, went from poor widow to important local landowner.

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                                                                                                                                  • Deans-Smith, Susan. Bureaucrats, Planters, and Workers: The Making of the Tobacco Monopoly in Bourbon Mexico. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1992.

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                                                                                                                                    Includes useful information on female tobacco workers, including some who rose to supervisory positions.

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                                                                                                                                    • Gauderman, Kimberly. Women’s Lives in Colonial Quito: Gender, Law, and Economy in Spanish America. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2003.

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                                                                                                                                      After attacking scholars for using “a patriarchal model in reconstructing women’s lives,” the author finds that, based on the success of indigenous non-Spanish speaking market women, the women of Quito, Ecuador, enjoyed a high degree of freedom until the 18th century.

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                                                                                                                                      • Mangan, Jane E. Trading Roles: Gender, Ethnicity, and the Urban Economy in Colonial Potosí. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2005.

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                                                                                                                                        Underlines the economic and social power of Indian market women who successfully defended their trade when challenged by Spanish storekeepers.

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                                                                                                                                        • Villanueva, Margaret A. “From Calpixqui to Corregidor: Appropriation of Women’s Cotton Textile Production in Early Colonial Mexico.” Latin American Perspectives 12.1 (Winter 1985): 17–40.

                                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1177/0094582X8501200102Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                          Argues that women’s working conditions deteriorated as the Spaniards substituted coarse cloth for the finely worked pre-Columbian goods.

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                                                                                                                                          Religious Women

                                                                                                                                          There were several types of religious life available to women with a spiritual vocation including as nuns and as beatas.

                                                                                                                                          Nuns

                                                                                                                                          Studies of nuns comprised some of the earliest work on women in colonial Latin America, in part because of the path-breaking articles by Lavrin and in part because of the existence of rich convent archives. The archives cited here, Arenal and Schlau 1989 and Myers and Powell 1999, yield information on women who held leadership roles within the female monasteries and on the spiritual writings of literate nuns. Although convents date from the 16th century in Spanish America, because of the scarcity of women in Brazil, the Portuguese did not allow convents to be set up until the late 17th century (see Soeiro 1978). In addition to the elite nuns of the black veil and middle group nuns of the white veil, a multitude of other women, ranging from widows to orphans to slaves to female students learning to read, could be found within the convent walls. Entering a convent as a nun was a conscious choice made for religious, social, or economic reasons by young women who found fulfilling lives within its walls (see Soeiro 1974 and Lavrin 2008). It allowed women to assume positions and leadership and to use their personal, managerial, and financial skills to benefit the convent (see Soeiro 1981). Convents were also a vital part of the cultural life of the colonial city (see Burns 1999), although occasionally life within the convent walls could present the nuns with institutional and personal problems (see Chowning 2005).

                                                                                                                                          • Arenal, Electa, and Stacey Schlau. Untold Sisters: Hispanic Nuns in Their Own Works. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1989.

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                                                                                                                                            The first study to present the writings of Spanish American nuns in English presents of wide variety of examples including letters, poems, dialogues, plays, accounts of spiritual experiences, and biographies drawn mainly from Peru and Mexico.

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                                                                                                                                            • Burns, Kathryn. Colonial Habits: Convents and the Spiritual Economy of Cuzco, Peru. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1999.

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                                                                                                                                              A study of the close connections—social, spiritual, and economic—between three convents and the elites of Cuzco over 400 years. Burns sees the convents as a vital part of the city and the nuns, although cloistered, as major players in the center of the city’s survival and prosperity.

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                                                                                                                                              • Chowning, Margaret. Rebellious Nuns: The Troubled History of a Mexican Convent, 1752–1863. New York: Oxford University Press, 2005.

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                                                                                                                                                The history of a convent in San Miguel de Allende plagued with personal rivalries, personality conflicts, financial problems, competition from beaterios, and a reform movement to end the communal life style.

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                                                                                                                                                • Lavrin, Asunción. “Female Religious.” In Cities and Society in Colonial Latin America. Edited by Louisa Schell Hoberman and Susan Migden Socolow, 165–195. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1986.

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                                                                                                                                                  Stressing the importance of convents in colonial urban society, this article discusses the location of convents, the inhabitants found within its walls, the economic role of the convent, the religious obligations of nuns, and their cultural role.

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                                                                                                                                                  • Lavrin, Asunción. Brides of Christ: Conventual Life in Colonial Mexico. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2008.

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                                                                                                                                                    A study of nuns that examines their experiences, ideas, and politics from the point of view of those living the cloistered life.

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                                                                                                                                                    • Myers, Kathleen A., and Amanda Powell. A Wild Country out in the Garden: The Spiritual Journals of a Colonial Mexican Nun. Bloomington: University of Indiana Press, 1999.

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                                                                                                                                                      Selections from the journals of the Oaxacan nun María de San José (1656–1719) accompanied by her biography and a discussion of autobiographical spiritual writings in colonial Spanish America.

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                                                                                                                                                      • Soeiro, Susan A. “The Social and Economic Role of the Convent: Women and Nuns in Colonial Bahía, 1677–1800.” Hispanic American Historical Review 54.2 (May 1974): 209–232.

                                                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.2307/2512567Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                        Analyzes the stereotypes of ideal female behavior, the social and economic background of the women who entered the elite Convent of Santa Clara do Destêrro, possible economic and social motives for becoming a nun, as well as life within the convent.

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                                                                                                                                                        • Soeiro, Susan A. “The Feminine Order in Colonial Bahia, Brazil: Economic, Social, and Demographic Implications, 1677–1800.” In Latin American Women: Historical Perspectives. Edited by Asunción Lavrin, 173–197. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1978.

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                                                                                                                                                          Discusses Portuguese resistance to founding female convents because of scarcity of women in Brazil, variety of women housed in convents, and economic restrictions (in the form of a large dowry) to taking religious orders.

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                                                                                                                                                          • Soeiro, Susan A. “Catarina de Monte Sinay: Nun and Entrepreneur.” In Struggle and Survival in Colonial America. Edited by David G. Sweet and Gary B. Nash, 257–273. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1981.

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                                                                                                                                                            The story of a nun from a wealthy Bahian family whose skills in business and financial dealings (including lending, renting houses, and preparing and selling sweets) allowed her to amass a considerable fortune, which she donated to her convent in her will.

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                                                                                                                                                            Beatas and Other Holy Women

                                                                                                                                                            Recent work has enlarged our understanding of religious women by uncovering the widespread existence of beatas (lay pious women) and female mystics who pursued a religious vocation outside the convent walls. Spanish beatas arrived, entrusted with the education of young girls in early colonial Spanish America (see Holler 2002), years before the founding of convents. In fact many convents emerged from beaterios. Sometimes groups of beatas and married women seeking protection from abusive husbands lived together to protect their honor (see van Deusen 1997). Indeed convents and beaterios were two institutions that sheltered girls and women (see van Deusen 2001). Many beatas, mystics, and other holy women were black, mestiza, or mulatto; also they were often illiterate (see Gunnarsdóttir 2004 and van Deusen 2004). Because these individuals were not from the upper ranks of local society and were neither cloistered nor under the direct spiritual control of any institution, they ran the risk of being called up before the Inquisition (see Jaffary 2004).However, at least one beata was canonized as a saint (see Myers 2003).

                                                                                                                                                            • Gunnarsdóttir, Ellen. Mexican Karismata: The Baroque Vocation of Francisca de los Ángeles, 1674–1744. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2004.

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                                                                                                                                                              A biography of a poor, mixed-blood beata from Querétaro whose religious ideas and social actions made her a renowned local holy woman. While she was protected by both the local church and the local elite, she was also examined by the Inquisition for pseudo-sanctity.

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                                                                                                                                                              • Holler, Jacqueline Zuzann. Escogidas plantas: Nuns and Beatas in Mexico City, 1531–1601. New York: Columbia University, 2002.

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                                                                                                                                                                Traces religious women from the early years of the conquest when beatas were entrusted with teaching indigenous girls to the more formal creation of convents, colegios, and recogimientos in the last three decades of the 16th century. Underlines the role of religious women in the creation of Mexico City, the largest city in the Spanish colonial empire. E-book.

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                                                                                                                                                                • Jaffary, Nora E. False Mystics: Deviant Orthodoxy in Colonial Mexico. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2004.

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                                                                                                                                                                  A study of poor laywomen and beatas, usually of Spanish descent, who although they saw themselves as the recipients of God’s mystical gifts were called up before the Inquisition for their heterodox beliefs.

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                                                                                                                                                                  • Myers, Kathleen Ann. Neither Saints nor Sinners: Writing the Lives of Women in Spanish America. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003.

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                                                                                                                                                                    A compelling analysis of the religious writings and lives of six women and the politics of their postmortem fame. Of the six, three were cloistered nuns, one a mystic, one a beata, and one a women who had disguised herself as a soldier for twenty years and then spent some years in a convent.

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                                                                                                                                                                    • van Deusen, Nancy E. “Determining the Boundaries of Virtue: The Discourse of Recogimiento among Women in Seventeenth-Century Lima.” Journal of Family History 22.4 (October 1997): 373–389.

                                                                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1177/036319909702200401Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                      A study of meaning of the term recogimiento in the minds of married women of all racial and social backgrounds petitioning for marriage annulment or divorce in late 17th-century Lima. Finds that all women shared similar ideas of what the marriage contract consisted of as well as the importance of protecting their honor after marital separation.

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                                                                                                                                                                      • van Deusen, Nancy E. Between the Sacred and the Worldly: The Institutional and Cultural Practice of “Recogimiento” in Colonial Lima. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2001.

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                                                                                                                                                                        A study of the institutions that sheltered girls and women, the experiences of the inmates, and the theological and cultural bases of these convents, casas, recogimientos, and beaterios.

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                                                                                                                                                                        • van Deusen, Nancy E. The Souls of Purgatory: The Spiritual Diary of a Seventeenth-Century Afro-Peruvian Mystic, Ursula de Jesús. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2004.

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                                                                                                                                                                          The spiritual writings of a 17th-century slave woman, a mystic who experienced visions in which she spoke directly to God. Ursula first lived with a beata and then entered a convent as the servant of a nun. There she had a miraculous experience, was freed by the nun, and became a servant (donada ) within the convent with the power to extricate souls from purgatory.

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                                                                                                                                                                          Rural Women

                                                                                                                                                                          The history of women in colonial Latin America has, with a few exceptions, tended to be overwhelmingly centered on urban women. Nonetheless there are studies that focus on the lives of women in rural areas (see Kanter 2008) and along the frontier (see Metcalf 1992 and Socolow 1998). Rural men and women, especially those living in indigenous communities, were often able to maintain much of their pre-Colombian ideas and culture (see Stavig 1995) but found it somewhat more difficult to maintain their claim on land (see Kanter 1995). Moreover, rural women were frequently the victims of male violence (see Stein 1995). As a result many women chose (or were forced by poverty) to migrate to urban centers (see Pescador 1995).

                                                                                                                                                                          • Kanter, Deborah Ellen. “Native Female Land Tenure and Its Decline in Mexico, 1750–1900.” Ethnohistory 42.4 (Fall 1995): 607–616.

                                                                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.2307/483146Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                            Judicial cases from the Valley of Toluca show that it was quite common for single, married, and widowed Indian women to own land. Partially because of demographic pressure on the land, men increasingly went to court to try to wrest land from the hands of widows considered to be “outsiders,” but colonial judges usually protected these women. Only after independence did women become more disadvantaged before the law.

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                                                                                                                                                                            • Kanter, Deborah E. Hijos del Pueblo: Gender, Family, and Community in Rural Mexico, 1730–1850. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2008.

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                                                                                                                                                                              One of the few books that examines rural life through the lens of gender. Arguing that women had a different, but not separate, experience, the author focuses on marriage, kinship, and the punishment meted out to women who transgressed social and moral norms.

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                                                                                                                                                                              • Metcalf, Alida C. Family and Frontier in Colonial Brazil: Santana de Parnaíba, 1580–1822. Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1992.

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                                                                                                                                                                                Discusses women from different social and racial groups in a frontier region. Finds that as the frontier expanded, men moved, leaving the womenfolk behind.

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                                                                                                                                                                                • Pescador, Juan Javier. “Vanishing Woman: Female Migration and Ethnic Identity in Late-Colonial Mexico City.” Ethnohistory 42.4 (Fall 1995): 617–626.

                                                                                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.2307/483147Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                  Following the migration of indigenous women to Mexico City as well as their housing, employment patterns, and acclimation to urban life, this article finds that these women, living among a ethnically diverse population, eventually lost their distinct Indian identity.

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                                                                                                                                                                                  • Socolow, Susan M. “Women of the Buenos Aires Frontier, 1740–1810 (or the Gaucho Turned Upside Down).” In Contested Ground: Comparative Frontiers on the Northern and Southern Edges of the Spanish Empire. Edited by Donna J. Guy and Thomas E. Sheridan, 67–82. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1998.

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                                                                                                                                                                                    Shows large presence of women along the frontier but argues that, without a male head of household to protect them, women were in a vulnerable situation.

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                                                                                                                                                                                    • Stavig, Ward. “‘Living in Offense of Our Lord’: Indigenous Sexual Values and Marital Life in the Colonial Crucible.” Hispanic American Historical Review 75.4 (November 1995): 597–622.

                                                                                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.2307/2518037Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                      Against the background of the attempts of the Catholic Church to instill its sexual morality, Stavig finds the survival of indigenous values in courtship, premarital sexual relations, trial marriage, marital roles, and violence within marriage in the Cuzco region.

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                                                                                                                                                                                      • Stern, Steve J. The Secret History of Gender: Women, Men, and Power in Late Colonial Mexico. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1995.

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                                                                                                                                                                                        A study of the “contested” relationships between men and women in rural Morelos and Oaxaca (and Mexico City). These relationships were marked by bitter disputes and violence as well as jealousy and ambivalence.

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                                                                                                                                                                                        Sex and Sin

                                                                                                                                                                                        Some colonial women exhibited behaviors that were seen by the Church and government authorities as being dangerous to society. Poor women, knowledgeable in herbal medicine, magic spells, and affairs of the heart, practiced sexual witchcraft throughout the colonial world. Their clientele encompassed all social, racial, and ethnic categories. Other women were accused of posing falsely as mystics or of blaspheming. Moreover, in a society that saw sexual purity as closely tied to family honor, elite women who bore children outside of marriage were seen as dangerous to social order, as were those who defied their parents’ choice of their marriage partner. Far rarer than their male counterparts, female bigamists and adulteresses were seen as an anathema to society and were punished harshly. While historians see these women as rebels, it is clear that they did not perceive of themselves as such but rather as individuals attempting to survive under difficult circumstances.

                                                                                                                                                                                        • Behar, Ruth. “Sex and Sin, Witchcraft and the Devil in Late-Colonial Mexico.” American Ethnologist 14.1 (February 1987): 34–54.

                                                                                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1525/ae.1987.14.1.02a00030Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                          Presents several 18th-century cases of witchcraft and sexual magic involving women practitioners who used bathwater, menstrual blood, and pubic hair to attract men, keep them from straying, or render them impotent. Women also entered into pacts with the Devil to be able to ensorcell men.

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                                                                                                                                                                                          • Behar, Ruth. “Sexual Witchcraft, Colonialism, and Women’s Power: Views from the Mexican Inquisition.” In Sexuality and Marriage in Colonial Latin America. Edited by Asunción Lavrin, 178–206. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1989.

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                                                                                                                                                                                            Discusses the power ascribed to Indian and mixed-caste female healers and midwives who helped women of all social groups gain control of their husbands and lovers. Using food, bodily fluids, powders and roots, small magic objects, and hummingbirds, these ritual practitioners made men as weak as women. Generally, the Inquisition treated them leniently and viewed them as ignorant rather than evil.

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                                                                                                                                                                                            • Bristol, Joan, and Matthew Restall. “Potions and Perils: Love-Magic in Seventeenth-Century Afro-Mexico and Afro-Yucatan.” In Black Mexico: Race and Society from Colonial to Modern Times. Edited by Ben Vinson III and Matthew Restall, 155–179. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2009.

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                                                                                                                                                                                              A strong article that underlines the mixture of Spanish, African, and Mesoamerican traditions of love-magic, reviews the physical materials used, and addresses the benefits and dangers a the system widely used in colonial Latin America.

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                                                                                                                                                                                              • Few, Martha. Women Who Live Evil Lives: Gender, Religion, and the Politics of Power in Colonial Guatemala. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2002.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                Looks at female “subalterns” (sorcerers, healers, midwives, and mystics) and finds that they demonstrated “agency” in resisting the colonial system in mid-17th to mid-18th century Santiago de Guatemala.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                • Mannarelli, María Emma. Private Passions and Public Sins: Men and Women in Seventeenth-Century Lima. Translated by Sydney Evans and Meredith D. Dodge. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2007.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                  A lively recounting of several sins of passion including concubinage, adultery, clandestine affairs, premarital sex, out-of-wedlock birth, and abandoned children.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                  Rebellion

                                                                                                                                                                                                  There are also scattered examples of groups of women who rebelled against the Spanish conquest (see Behar 1987) or led short-lived civic uprisings usually as a reaction to local policies (see Dunn 1995). In the late 18th century, a few women, usually related to male leaders, took an active role in Andean uprisings (see Campbell 1985), although to date little has been written about them. Some women who participated in the early movements for independence in Spanish America are being rediscovered by feminist scholars (see Brewster 2005 and Murray 2008).

                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Behar, Ruth. “The Visions of a Guachichil Witch in 1599: A Window on the Subjugation of Mexico’s Hunter-Gatherers.” Ethnohistory 34.2 (1987): 115–138.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.2307/482250Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Trial of a Chichimec woman who prophesized the disappearance of the Spanish and attempted to foment an uprising against both the Church and Spanish settlers and a resurrection of her people.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Brewster, Claire. “Women and the Spanish-American Wars of Independence: An Overview.” Feminist Review 79 (2005): 20–35.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1057/palgrave.fr.9400200Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Rejects view of women as subservient and highlights female contribution to late 18th-century uprisings as well as independence movements.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Campbell, Leon. “Women and the Great Rebellion in Peru, 1780–1783.” The Americas 42.2 (October 1985): 163–196.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.2307/1007207Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                        In addition to underlining Andean women’s participation in peasant rebellions against Bourbon reforms, this article documents their central importance in the Great Rebellion of highland Peru. All three rebellion leaders received military support, information, and advice from their wives and other female family members and supporters. The victorious Spaniards treated these women as harshly as they did the men.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Dunn, Alvis E. “A Cry at Daybreak: Death, Disease and Defense of Community in a Highland Ixil-Mayan Village.” Ethnohistory 42.4 (Fall 1995): 595–606.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.2307/483145Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Documents a local female uprising aimed at forcing priests to continue burying the dead within the church walls despite a typhus plague. Presents women moved to action to safeguard traditions and customs, especially those concerning death.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Murray, Pamela S. For Glory and Bolívar: The Remarkable Life of Manuela Sáenz, 1797–1856. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2008.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                            A biography of a remarkable woman. The illegitimate daughter of a Spanish merchant, Manuela became involved in the independence movement while married to a British merchant. At age 25, she became the lover and political collaborator of Bolívar as well as his archivist, defender, and intercessor with his troops. She continued to be an important figure in local politics after his death.

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