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The Secret History of Gender: Women, Men, and Power in Late Colonial Mexico / Edition 3

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In this study of gender relations in late colonial Mexico (ca. 1760-1821), Steve Stern analyzes the historical connections between gender, power, and politics in the lives of peasants, Indians, and other marginalized peoples. Through vignettes of everyday life, he challenges assumptions about gender relations and political culture in a patriarchal society. He also reflects on continuity and change between late colonial times and the present and suggests a paradigm for understanding similar struggles over gender rights in Old Regime societies in Europe and the Americas.

Stern pursues three major arguments. First, he demonstrates that non-elite women and men developed contending models of legitimate gender authority and that these differences sparked bitter struggles over gender right and obligation. Second, he reveals connections, in language and social dynamics, between disputes over legitimate authority in domestic and familial matters and disputes in the arenas of community and state power. The result is a fresh interpretation of the gendered dynamics of peasant politics, community, and riot. Third, Stern examines regional and ethnocultural variation and finds that his analysis transcends particular locales and ethnic subgroupings within Mexico. The historical arguments and conceptual sweep of Stern's book will inform not only students of Mexico and Latin America but also students of gender in the West and other world regions.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
A remarkable work, theorizing patriarchy as ever-changing rather than static.

Canadians Journal of Latin American/Caribbean Studies

One of the most significant contributions to Latin American and women's history published in the past two decades.

Western Historical Quarterly

This is a complex book well worth reading, and Stern provides important insights that scholars may debate for some time.

Journal of Social History

An elegant and convincing analysis of gender relations.

Colonial Latin American Historical Review

This is a theoretically sophisticated and empirically rich study of gender and popular political culture in colonial Mexico.

American Historical Review

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780807846438
  • Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press
  • Publication date: 2/26/1997
  • Edition description: 3
  • Edition number: 3
  • Pages: 496
  • Product dimensions: 1.00 (w) x 6.14 (h) x 9.21 (d)

Meet the Author

Steve J. Stern, professor of history at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, is author of numerous books and articles on Latin American history.

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Table of Contents

Preface and Acknowledgments
Part 1. The Journey
Chapter 1. An Invitation to Readers
Chapter 2. Power, Patriarchy, and the Mexican Poor: An Inquiry
Part 2. Before Zapata: Culture as Argument
Chapter 3. Counting Surprises: The Art of Cultural Exaggeration
Chapter 4. Woman, Man, and Authority: The Contested Boundaries of Gender Right and Obligation
Chapter 5. Cultural Legitimacy, Cultural Stigma: An Interpretation of Widows
Chapter 6. The Crossfires of Gender and Family, Color and Class: Solidarity, Conflict, and Ambivalence
Chapter 7. Battles of Patriarchs: The World of Male Peasant Violence
Chapter 8. Gender Culture and Political Culture: Languages of Community, Politics, and Riot
Part 3. Many Mexicos?: Culture as Variation
Chapter 9. Regionalism and Mexicanidad: Toward a Framework
Chapter 10. The Indian South: Gender, Power, and Ethnicity in Oaxaca
Chapter 11. The Plebeian Center: Struggling Women and Wayward Patriarchs in Mexico City
Chapter 12. The Many Mexicos of Every Mexican Region: Morelos Reconsidered
Part 4. Reflections
Chapter 13. Conclusion: Power and Patriarchy in Subaltern Life, Late Colonial Times
Chapter 14. Postscript: The Problem of Ghosts
Appendix: A Note on Quantitative Methods

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