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Changing Woman: A History of Racial Ethnic Women in Modern America / Edition 1

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Overview


While great strides have been made in documenting discrimination against women in America, our awareness of discrimination is due in large part to the efforts of a feminist movement dominated by middle-class white women, and is skewed to their experiences. Yet discrimination against racial ethnic women is in fact dramatically different--more complex and more widespread--and without a window into the lives of racial ethnic women our understanding of the full extent of discrimination against all women in America will be woefully inadequate. Now, in this illuminating volume, Karen Anderson offers the first book to examine the lives of women in the three main ethnic groups in the United States--Native American, Mexican American, and African American women--revealing the many ways in which these groups have suffered oppression, and the profound effects it has had on their lives.
Here is a thought-provoking examination of the history of racial ethnic women, one which provides not only insight into their lives, but also a broader perception of the history, politics, and culture of the United States. For instance, Anderson examines the clash between Native American tribes and the U.S. government (particularly in the plains and in the West) and shows how the forced acculturation of Indian women caused the abandonment of traditional cultural values and roles (in many tribes, women held positions of power which they had to relinquish), subordination to and economic dependence on their husbands, and the loss of meaningful authority over their children. Ultimately, Indian women were forced into the labor market, the extended family was destroyed, and tribes were dispersed from the reservation and into the mainstream--all of which dramatically altered the woman's place in white society and within their own tribes. The book examines Mexican-American women, revealing that since U.S. job recruiters in Mexico have historically focused mostly on low-wage male workers, Mexicans have constituted a disproportionate number of the illegals entering the states, placing them in a highly vulnerable position. And even though Mexican-American women have in many instances achieved a measure of economic success, in their families they are still subject to constraints on their social and political autonomy at the hands of their husbands. And finally, Anderson cites a wealth of evidence to demonstrate that, in the years since World War II, African-American women have experienced dramatic changes in their social positions and political roles, and that the migration to large urban areas in the North simply heightened the conflict between homemaker and breadwinner already thrust upon them.
Changing Woman provides the first history of women within each racial ethnic group, tracing the meager progress they have made right up to the present. Indeed, Anderson concludes that while white middle-class women have made strides toward liberation from male domination, women of color have not yet found, in feminism, any political remedy to their problems.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Anderson shows how dramatically different the discrimination experience and the struggle for equality are for women in three ethnic groups, Native American, Mexican American, and African American.... Anderson's rich, exciting book highlights their specific problems, shows how racism undermines their efforts at achieving equality, and provides a historical perspective for a better understanding of the current situations of these women."--Booklist

"Anderson understands fully the complexity and intricacy of the double and triple binds that have shaped the lives of minority women in America. Her book provides a wonderful opportunity to assess the rich variety of women's experience, and to understand with more precision how the structural constraints of race, class, and gender have functioned to shape women's lives."--William H. Chafe, Dean of the Faculty of Arts & Sciences, Duke University

"Karen Anderson's Changing Woman replicates the phrase's meaning in Navajo--a symbol of cyclical change and improvement, a beneficent deity. Her weighty treatment of the cultural situations through history of Native American, Mexican American, and African American women is a treasure of information and insight. This is another wonderful resource for readers of women's history."--Linda Wagner-Martin, Hanes Professor of English and Comparative Literature, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

"In demonstrating that 'there is no one pattern in the ways women of color have struggled for equality,' Karen Anderson places Native American, Mexican American, and African American women at the center of her analysis. She offers, thereby, a sobering portrait of both the accomplishments and failures of the feminist movement. Anderson's insightful concentration on the 'women who live at the margins of political and cultural power' forces us to rethink everything we thought we knew about the history of women in twentieth-century America."--Annette Kolodny, author of The Lay of the Land and The Land Before Her

The Midwest Book Review
This history of ethnic women in modern America explores the lives and extent of discrimination against women in this country. From clashes between Native American tribes and the government to discussions of the politics affecting Mexican-American women, this provides an excellent, wide-reaching examination of underlying influences on ethnic women's lives.
Library Journal
Anderson (history, Univ. of Arizona) traces the complex patterns of discrimination against three major groups of racial ethnic women in the United States in the 20th century: Native American, Mexican American, and African American. Focusing on specific issues of employment, family relationships, and the role of gender in relation to race and class, Anderson sketches the resulting internal conflicts within an ethnic group as well as conflict with the dominant culture. Federal government intervention in acculturating Native Americans, for example, not only created conflict between whites and Native Americans but also disrupted social, economic, and family relationships within Native American groups. Anderson's scholarly study adds valuable perspectives from racial ethnic women to a richer understanding of American history. Appropriate for college and women's studies collections.Patricia A. Beaber, Trenton State Coll. Lib., N.J.
Booknews
An interpretive history of working class Mexican American, African American, and American Indian women in the last century underlining the specific and common experiences of the three groups. Anderson (history, U. of Arizona) blends historical analysis, politics, and cultural considerations to show how forced acculturation of American Indian women subordinated their traditional powers, the contradictory pressures Mexican American women experience in their place between cultures, and African American women's migration from plantation to urban centers with the subsequent shifts in their social and political situations. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195117882
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 7/28/1997
  • Edition description: REPRINT
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 6.13 (w) x 9.19 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Karen Anderson is Associate Professor of History at the University of Arizona.

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Table of Contents

1 "Changing Woman" and the Politics of Difference 3
2 American Indian Women and Cultural Conflict 17
3 An Expensive Luxury: Women, Civilization, and Resistance, 1887-1934 37
4 From the Indian New Deal to Red Power: Women, "Self-Determination," and Power 67
5 Mexicanas: The Immigrant Experience, 1900-1950 92
6 Border Women: Gender, Culture, and Power in Mexican American Communities from 1950 to the Present 123
7 In the Shadow of the Plantation: African American Women, 1865-1940 153
8 Progress and Protest: African American Women Since 1940 185
Notes 221
Index 285
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