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Gender and the Mexican Revolution

Yucatán Women and the Realities of Patriarchy

By Stephanie J. Smith

272 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 1 map, notes, bibl., index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-0-8078-5953-7
    Published: June 2009
  • eBook ISBN: 978-0-8078-8865-0
    Published: June 2009

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The state of Yucatán is commonly considered to have been a hotbed of radical feminism during the Mexican Revolution. Challenging this romanticized view, Stephanie Smith examines the revolutionary reforms designed to break women's ties to tradition and religion, as well as the ways in which women shaped these developments.

Smith analyzes the various regulations introduced by Yucatán's two revolution-era governors, Salvador Alvarado and Felipe Carrillo Puerto. Like many revolutionary leaders throughout Mexico, the Yucatán policy makers professed allegiance to women's rights and socialist principles. Yet they, too, passed laws and condoned legal practices that excluded women from equal participation and reinforced their inferior status.

Using court cases brought by ordinary women, including those of Mayan descent, Smith demonstrates the importance of women's agency during the Mexican Revolution. But, she says, despite the intervention of women at many levels of Yucatecan society, the rigid definition of women's social roles as strictly that of wives and mothers within the Mexican nation guaranteed that long-term, substantial gains remained out of reach for most women for years to come.

About the Author

Stephanie J. Smith is assistant professor of history at the Ohio State University.
For more information about Stephanie J. Smith, visit the Author Page.

Reviews

"Thoughtful. . . . Smith has revealed and sensitively analyzed a world awash in complexity and complication, a revolutionary world in which Yucatan women fought to be treated properly. These women, as Smith reminds us, crafted legacies to which future women could turn."--American Historical Review

"An example of groundbreaking research in gender studies. . . . Smith's research shows that women were far more active and influential than is usually admitted. . . . A welcomed contribution to the field of gender studies and will definitely force us to see the Mexican Revolution in a new light."--The Latin Americanist

"An important contribution to the emergent field of Mexican feminist theory. . . . Scholars of Mexican history, women and gender, and legal studies will learn much from this very readable book."--The Americas

"A highly readable and at times poignant social history rich with political implications."--Hispanic American Historical Review

"Studies in English on the Mexican Revolution must strike a difficult balance that is common in area studies. . . . Smith . . . does an admirable job of satisfying on all counts. . . . A lucid, accessible text. . . . Highly recommended."--Choice

"An engaging story of women who struggled to shape the revolutionary project. . . . Will find an audience among specialists, but Smith's engaging writing style and clear analysis makes this an excellent choice for classroom use as well."--H-Net Reviews