White Slavery and Mothers Alive and Dead: The Troubled Meeting of Sex, Gender, Public Health, and Progress in Latin America

White Slavery and Mothers Alive and Dead: The Troubled Meeting of Sex, Gender, Public Health, and Progress in Latin America

White Slavery and Mothers Alive and Dead: The Troubled Meeting of Sex, Gender, Public Health, and Progress in Latin America

White Slavery and Mothers Alive and Dead: The Troubled Meeting of Sex, Gender, Public Health, and Progress in Latin America

Synopsis

White Slavery and Mothers Alive and Dead brings together a diverse set of essays exploring topics ranging from public health and child welfare to criminality and industrialization. What the essays have in common is their gendered connection to work, family, and the rise of increasingly interventionist nation-states in Latin America, and particularly in Argentina.

Donna J. Guy first looks at Latin American women from a general and international perspective. She explores which paradigms are most useful in studying gender history in Latin America. She also addresses the evolution of the Pan-American Child Congresses as well as the politics of Pan-American cooperation in relation to child welfare issues. Later essays focus on Argentina in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Guy looks at how women were affected by systems of forced labor, and she illuminates changes in the concept of patria potestad, or the right of male heads of households to control family members' labor. Other essays address such issues as public health, white slavery, and public notions of motherhood in Argentina.

Excerpt

Research topics are selected in many ways, and my interest in gender studies did not emerge directly from undergraduate and graduate training. There were no programs in gender studies of Latin America when I went to undergraduate and graduate school. My dissertation research on the sugar industry in late-nineteenth-century Tucumán, Argentina, was prompted by a suggestion from my advisor. Unexpectedly, as I investigated the political economy of sugar, I kept coming across data about women, work, crime, and family. At that point I had neither reason nor encouragement to pursue the topic further.

My interest in women's history began with a challenge. In the 1970s I was reading a manuscript on peonage in Latin America, and I realized that there was no discussion of women. When I made such a comment to the author, his response was that there had been nothing written on the subject and thus the issue must be too unimportant or irrelevant to consider. Yet I knew there were materials on the subject, even if they had been ignored by others. To this day I secretly thank that person for pushing me onto the path of gender studies. Inspiration can come from many unexpected sources and can lead to years of satisfying research and analysis.

The following essays represent the intellectual path I have taken since that time. They explore a diverse set of topics, ranging from public health to criminality, industrialization to child welfare and from rural cotton workers to urban prostitutes. What they have in common is their gendered connection to work, family, and the rise of increasingly interventionist nation-states in Latin America, particularly in Argentina. The first half of the book examines Latin American women from a general and international perspective, while the second half of the book focuses on Argentina in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

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