Gender during the Period of Latin American Independence

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Independence is foundational to national histories in Latin America, defined for this article as former colonies of Spain and Portugal in the Western Hemisphere. Throughout the 19th and most of the 20th centuries, however, attention to women’s experiences during that period was limited to patriotic biographies of those considered heroines. With the growth of women’s history beginning in the 1970s, a few dissertations in the United States focused on women’s roles during independence, resulting in one monograph and a few articles. The field was more linked to social than political history, however, and most studies of women in Latin America focused either on the colonial period or on the 20th century. A few historians did analyze women’s status, particularly in family law, over a longer transitional period, from the late 18th century into the 19th century, that encompassed independence. Similarly, literary scholars undertook gender analysis of texts in the same timeframe. By the 1990s, feminist scholars within Latin America were overcoming institutional barriers, leading to a rise in works published in Spanish and Portuguese. Indeed, scholars within the region have undertaken most of the studies that focus on women specifically during the movements for independence in Spanish America between 1810 and 1825, and these publications have grown significantly with the bicentennial commemorations. Scholars in North America and Europe have also increased their attention to gender and politics, especially during the aftermath of independence, and they have added masculinity as a subject of analysis. The increase in scholarship was sufficient for some to undertake article-length overviews in the 2000s, and the time is ripe to reconsider larger debates over the extent and timing of changes in gender roles and dynamics. Most scholars argue that despite women’s contributions to the independence movements, their status remained little changed or even worsened within the new nations. While without doubt a rising ideology of domesticity for women occurred in the 19th century, the particular spaces for women’s agency merit closer investigation. Despite the considerable growth in the field, moreover, much research remains to be done. Brazil and especially Central America are underrepresented. Although studies of Indigenous women who participated in late colonial Andean rebellions have been done, much less work is available focused on Indigenous or on women of African descent during or after the wars of independence.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationOxford Bibliographies in Latin American Studies
PublisherOxford Universitiy Press
Number of pages26
StatePublished - Aug 25 2021

Publication series

NameOxford Bibliographies
PublisherOxford University Press


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