Women's Roles in Latin America and the Caribbean

Women's Roles in Latin America and the Caribbean

Women's Roles in Latin America and the Caribbean

Women's Roles in Latin America and the Caribbean


This book surveys Latin American and Caribbean women's contributions throughout history from conquest through the 20th century.

• Includes a timeline of women's history in Latin America and the Spanish Caribbean

• Provides a bibliography of suggested readings to promote further research

• Presents a lengthy general introduction on women's roles in Latin America and the Caribbean


Latin America and the Spanish Caribbean island nations present the scholar with a formidable task in surveying the history of their women. Diverse in geography, culture, and politics Latin American and Caribbean women pose as many differences as similarities. However, there are general patterns and trends that unite women across seas, mountain ranges, and historical trajectories. Divided by class, race, and ethnicity, Latin American and Caribbean women share a common history of subordination, initiative, and agency. Though their gender relegated them to the endnotes of official history, women in this region, time and time again, pushed back the limitations on their rights, autonomy, and ability to voice their opinion. Sometimes they conformed to what society expected of them; sometimes they rebelled. More commonly they acted out somewhere between conformity and rebellion. In the end, Latin American women played instrumental roles in the development of their societies.

Women defined themselves first by gender and secondarily by race and/ or class. Other factors such as marital status, occupation, age, and religion distinguished one woman from another. Most Latin American women were Catholic, some nominally so, but many practiced a syncretic form of popular Catholicism that blended rituals and beliefs from indigenous or African spiritualism with Christian practices. In other words, Maya women of highland Guatemala might attend mass and eagerly participate in holy Catholic celebrations, but they also left offerings of corn and tobacco on the altar. Catholic women in Brazil might dutifully attend Catholic mass on Saturday but also participate in Umbanda or Candomblé observances on Friday. Other women concealed their religious identity in the colonial . . .

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