In Andean Bolivia, racial and cultural differences are most visibly marked on women, who often still wear native dress and speak an indigenous language rather than Spanish. In this study of modernity in Bolivia, Marcia Stephenson explores how the state's desire for a racially and culturally homogenous society has been deployed through images of womanhood that promote the notion of an idealized, acculturated female body.
Stephenson engages a variety of texts—critical essays, novels, indigenous testimonials, education manuals, self-help pamphlets, and position papers of diverse women's organizations—to analyze how the interlocking tropes of fashion, motherhood, domestication, hygiene, and hunger are used as tools for the production of dominant, racialized ideologies of womanhood. At the same time, she also uncovers long-standing patterns of resistance to the modernizing impulse, especially in the large-scale mobilization of indigenous peoples who have made it clear that they will negotiate the terms of modernity, but always "as Indians."
Marcia Stephenson is Associate Professor of Spanish at Purdue University.
This is an important feminist/cultural studies reading on the subject of racial formation in Andean Bolivia that has women at its center.... It would be useful for courses such as Latin American women's history, feminist theory, cultural studies, the anthropology of women, gender studies, history of consciousness, and Andean studies.
Gender and Modernity is a valuable contribution to our understanding of ethnic and gender relations in Bolivia. Stephenson achieves an original reading of the complex role of the state efforts to maintain their cultural identity and integrity in the face of a design to mask ethnicity. This is a rich book, full of intriguing and original ideas, and a must for students of modernization and social change.
~Susan C. Bourque, Hispanic American Historical Review
Introduction. Race, Gender, and Modernity in the Bolivian Andes
Chapter One. Skirts and Polleras: Ideologies of Womanhood and the Politics of Resistance in La Paz, 1900-1952
Chapter Two. Mothering The Nation: Antonio Díaz Villamil's La niña de sus Ojos
Chapter Three. Dismembered Houses
Chapter Four. Fashioning The National Subject: Pedagogy, Hygiene, and Apparel
Chapter Five. The Politics of Hunger
Afterword. "'AlterNative' Institutions"
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