Women's grassroots activism in Latin America combines a commitment to basic survival for women and their children with a challenge to women's subordination to men. Women activists insist that issues such as rape, battering, and reproductive control cannot be divorced from women's concerns about housing, food, land, and medical care.
This innovative, comparative study explores six cases of women's grassroots activism in Mexico, El Salvador, Brazil, and Chile. Lynn Stephen communicates the ideas, experiences, and perceptions of women who participate in collective action, while she explains the structural conditions and ideological discourses that set the context within which women act and interpret their experiences. She includes revealing interviews with activists, detailed histories of organizations and movements, and a theoretical discussion of gender, collective identity, and feminist anthropology and methods.
Lynn Stephen is Professor of Anthropology at Northeastern University.
This book promises to make a significant contribution to the literature on women and social movements in Latin America. The fact that it draws upon collaborative relationships with the women written about is a further strength, making it of interest to activists and academics alike.... It would make an excellent teaching text, and it would also be of interest to general readers.
~Florence E. Babb, author of Between Field and Cooking Pot: The Political Economy of Marketwomen in Peru
A gendered analysis of the National Security regimes that dominated South and Central America in the 1970s and '80s reveals a pattern of abuse of women that failed to register in the public consciousness.... The evidence compiled by Stephen, a feminist ethnographer, from archives and interviews with women in grassroots movements in El Salvador, Mexico, Brazil, and Chile reveals the breakdown of the patriarchal bargain: men in power withdrew protection from women, and women rebelled against the male domination that crippled them and left them unfit to lead their own lives.
Chapter 1. Introduction:Gender and Politics, Experience and Structure
Part I. El Salvador
Chapter 2. Women's Rights Are Human Rights: The Merging of Feminine and Feminist Interests among El Salvador's Mothers of the Disappeared (CO-MADRES)
Chapter 3. Women for Dignity and Life: The Emergence of Feminisms from El Salvador's Revolutionary Left
Interview. Morena Herrera, Women for Dignity and Life
Part II. Mexico
Chapter 4. The Politics of Urban Survival: The Women's Regional Council of the CONAMUP, Mexico
Interview. Irene Soto, Women's Regional Council of the CONAMUP
Chapter 5. The Unintended Consequences of "Traditional" Women's Organizing: The Women's Council of the Lázaro Cárdenas Ejido Union, Nayarit
Interview. Doña Kata Moreno and Aurora Cruz, Lázaro Cárdenas Ejido Union
Part III. Brazil
Chapter 6. Class, Gender and Autonomy: The Rural Women Workers' Movement of Southern Brazil
Interview. Gessi Bonês and Marlene Pasquali, Rural Women Workers' Movement
Part IV. Chile
Chapter 7. Sweet and Sour Grapes: The Struggles of Seasonal Women Workers in Chile
Interview. Antonia Gómez, Interindustry Union of Seasonal and Permanent Workers of Santa María
Chapter 8. Conclusions: Women in Action
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