Women, Gender, Transnationalism, and Power in Latin America

Sophomore and above—Year

This course deals with women, gender, citizenship, and power relations in Latin America in the late-19th and 20th centuries. Using a global frame, we will consider Latin America as part of the Americas and the Global South. Taking a historical and thematic approach, the class will address questions of gendered power and the state, power relations between sexes and genders, and sexual and cultural imperialism and the gendering and racialization of foreign relations. Case studies will offer insight into how class, race, ethnicity, and color intersect gender, sex, and sexuality in modern Latin America. We will grapple with questions of gender and the family and hybridity, belonging, exclusion, and transnational migration. In the fall, a focus will be on gendered citizenship. Up until at least the early-20th century, Latin American women lost their citizenship rights upon marrying foreign men (defined by birth and/or race). In some cases, women moved to the men’s home countries and found that they had no legitimate citizenship status there, either. At the interstices of the nation-state, Latin American women pushed against gendered citizenship policy and practice. We will reflect on this phenomenon in a global context, as gendered citizenship existed around the world in this period. In particular, we will look at Latin America-Asia connections. Exploring historiographical questions and debates that take us across the borders of region and field, we will think about why the bulk of the literature has come from U.S. women historians, while there has been a relative paucity of work on gendered citizenship by Latin American historians (though we will ask whether such comparisons constitute or lead to scholarly imperialism). In the spring, we will concentrate on sex slavery and sex and cultural tourism in Latin America in conjunction with the Women’s History Conference on human trafficking. We will address how diverse groups of women—indigenous, mestiza, black, Jewish, and Asian—have been trafficked in Latin America at different times. We will consider how travel brochures and online forums have sexualized and racialized Latin American and Caribbean bodies as exotic and ultradesirable to attract heterosexual and queer tourists from North America, Europe, and elsewhere. Throughout the year, we will also study notions of the body, masculinity and femininity, and queer subjectivities in modern Latin America. Other themes involve the blurring of the private and the public and women’s activism, as well as other ways women have intervened in Latin American culture and politics. Assigned readings include historical monographs and articles, as well as treatises, memoirs, and historical novels.