Taking Back the Streets: Women, Youth, and Direct Democracy

Taking Back the Streets: Women, Youth, and Direct Democracy

Taking Back the Streets: Women, Youth, and Direct Democracy

Taking Back the Streets: Women, Youth, and Direct Democracy


"This is a strong, lively, deeply felt, and wonderfully informed account of the power of women struggling to reverse tyranny in many of the most distressed countries in the world."--Vivian Gornick, author of "The End of the Novel of Love "

"With her habitual passion and intellectual courage, Temma Kaplan once again has written a mesmerizing study on the nature of resistance, political engagement, and the transformative power that ordinary human beings in extraordinary times create in order to bring about social justice and accountability. This is a powerful and stunning book that will captivate both the general reader and the scholar and undoubtedly will inspire."--Marjorie Agosin, author of "A Map of Hope"

"Scholar and activist Temma Kaplan is singularly positioned to write this history of women and youth, who risked lives and reputations in pursuit of democracy against state terror. Focusing on often-unheralded public demonstrations, Kaplan shows how public spectacles and street protests against tyranny and atrocity have helped bring down regimes. This account of steadfast resistance and its long reverberating aftermath will fascinate and inspire."--Alix Kates Shulman, author of "Memoirs of an Ex-Prom Queen


At the end of the twentieth century in places ranging from Latin America and the Caribbean to Europe, the United States, South Africa, Nigeria, Iran, Japan, China, and South Asia, women and young people of both sexes demonstrated against injustices that they thought they could not confront in any other way. Equating democracy with social justice, they took over the streets and plazas of their countries in an effort to hold public officials accountable for committing atrocities and enforcing unjust laws. They attempted to publicize what authoritarian governments were doing in secret and to force these governments from power. In Chile, the young María Prada (pseud.) mistook her government's; efforts to promote public education for a totalitarian plot to brainwash students and mobilized against it. In Argentina, Nora de Cortiñas found satisfaction as a mother and housewife until her son was abducted and she attempted to find him at army bases and prisons; then she tried to reincorporate him into public life in the central plaza of her country. Teresa Valdés resisted patriarchy in her home and in authoritarian Chile by organizing street demonstrations.

The women and youth discussed in this book stand in for others all around the world who appeal to the public in the name of democracy, sometimes using shaming techniques. Even while being tortured by the Chilean military, the young Nieves Ayress recognized how her oppressors used shame to isolate and discredit her. Refusing to be shamed, acting as a witness to what she and others suffered, and bringing history . . .

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