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Latin American Women.odt

Latin American Studies
Course Code

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Latin American Women
Thursday, January 21, 2010
"Latin American Women" - the vastness of the topic
Which Women? Issues of...
Race or ethnic group
Class or economic status
Political or religious affiliation
Sexual orientation
Civil status: single, married, widow...
Prejudice? cultural silences? invisibility?
Central America
Andes Region
Southern Cone
How to think through issues/concerns/themes that relate to LA Women but not fall into
the trap to generalization?
Possible solutions:
-focus on only one geographical area
-focus on just one aspect or problem
-touch on many different issues using a variety of texts
Topics concerning women & the colonial past
Iberian women in Old World & New World
indigenous women & imported African women
women, marriage & family
elite women
brides of Christ & other religious women
women & work
women & slavery
women & social deviance: crime, witchcraft & rebellion
women & enlightenment reform
How was power distributed b/w men & women?
How did social institutions maintain the lower states of women?

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Latin American Women
Where do we see the shadows/echoes of these power structures today in Latin America
or in LA immigrant communities?
Gender defines a position in society & identity
Gender is a social construct
Each society defines masculinity & femininity
patriarchal = men are always in control
women are defined by their gender & secondary in class; gender is paramount
life course depends on race
Monday, January 25, 2010
I. Review of our method
Colonial Roots
A. Indigenous populations
family union was destroyed when slaves were brought over from Africa
gender division of labor
women worked harder than men (physically)
roles undervalued
male lineage to precedence
the conquest had more effect on indigenous women than men
women migrate b/c of availability of work
it wasn't usual for Iberian men to have stable union with women of lower class
La Malinche was a princess that was captivated & married a soldier; she knew
what card to play in order to survive, epitome of need for survival
race is used as a social marker
mestizos were identified w/ negative values
the conquest produced far ranging changes in indigenous women & African
B. Convent Life
religion entered all aspects of life

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Latin American Women
Why imported?
Existed for all elite women; as social escape
repositories for elite women
they are urban institutions
way for wealthy women to enhance status
women had to have yearly income
women accompanied by servants & may hold property
commitment for life
What is advantage?
A lot of room for self fulfillment
life less confining within than outside
- determine how to spend time
- free of fear of childbirth death
literacy was higher
1. devote life to religion
2. escape sinfulness of the world
3. escape control of father
4. escape boredom of domestic life
all women in convents – belief that while women needed to be protected
will be more cloistered than indigenous life
Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz
“Soul has no gender”
born to parents who weren't married
1 of 6 children, genius, taught herself to read
@ 18 yrs. Joined convent
wrote plays, theological critiques
1690 silenced by Bishop
forced to sell books & repent
died of sickness
S. Stern, Secret History of Gender
cross tires of gender, family, color, class
solidarity against the “other”
the concept of the “dance”
Contradictions within a given category
self-legitimization of women – patriarchy
the cross over
women as social & political force
import of gender in construction of group identity
gender rights = bitterly contested = ambiguous
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