The first book on women’s political history in Belize, From Colony to Nation demonstrates that women were creators of and activists within the two principal political currents of twentieth-century Belize: colonial-middle class reform and popular labor-nationalism. As such, their alliances and struggles with colonial administrators, male reformers, and nationalists and with one another were central to the emergence of this improbable nation-state.
From Colony to Nation draws on extensive research and previously unmined sources such as almost one hundred interviews, colonial government records, the files of Belize’s first feminist organization, and court records. Anne S. Macpherson examines the tensions of the 1910s that led to the 1919 anticolonial riot; the reform project of the 1920s, in which Garveyite women were key state allies; the militant anticolonial labor movement of the 1930s; the more ambitious reform project of the 1940s; the successful but nonrevolutionary nationalist movement of the 1950s; and the gender dynamics of party politics and both Black Power and feminist challenges to the party system in the 1960s and 1970s.
From Colony to Nation connects to historiographies of racialized and gendered reform in colonial and other multiracial societies and of tensions between female activism and masculine authority within nationalist movements and postcolonial societies.
“Macpherson succeeds brilliantly. . . . [Her] book is the first significantly new contribution to Belizean historiography in decades. Much as Bolland, Ashdown, and Shoman overturned an earlier model of official history, Macpherson has both built upon and revised interpretations received from them. Belizean women emerge in her account as central political actors in their own right, often taking up mobilizations abandoned by male workers or sustaining popular movements when male leadership was timid, compliant, or divided. . . . One informant, in recounting her youthful confrontation with a British governor declared, “I was never a coward woman.” Macpherson’s history accords such steadfast determination a central role in Belize’s emergence as an independent nation, and does so with meticulous research and profound empathy for her subjects.”—American Historical Review
Hispanic American Historical Review
- Michael Stone
"Macpherson brings an innovative, unapologetically revisionist perspective to her project, offering the first work to theorize the political subjectivities of women in Belize and thereby significantly raising the theoretical stakes of the historiography of Central America's understudied Caribbean coast."—Michael Stone, Hispanic American Historical Review
- Michael J. Pisani
"Macpherson provides a voice to the women of Belize engaged in the twentieth-century struggle for independence, an underappreciated political struggle still underway a quarter century after the establishment of the nation-state of Belize."—Michael J. Pisani, Latin Americanist
- Doroth�e Marie-Louise D�pfer
"With her grounded research and deep interest in the subject, Anne Macpherson provides detailed insight into the political life of actors and actresses of the Belizean national movement."—Dorothée Marie-Louise Döpfer, Iberoamericana