“Gender and Welfare in Mexico connects the development of ideas about family and gender globally to the development of Mexico City's professional class and the evolution of the Mexican postrevolutionary political system in original and important ways. Engagingly written, richly researched, and rigorously argued, this book will matter deeply to anyone concerned with the history of twentieth-century Mexico and with the transnational history of gender and the welfare state.”
—Anne Rubenstein, York University
“Placing the rise of professional women in the field of social work within an international movement of eugenics, diplomacy, and institution building, Nichole Sanders shows how it formed an integral part of the expansion of the postrevolutionary middle class and the consolidation of the PRI. Sanders considers both the social workers and the clients of social welfare and adroitly shows that if within consumer culture the chica moderna was defined as modern by her independence, within welfare rhetoric the modern woman was a scientific mother, living in a ‘properly’ formed family with disciplined children. Social workers, politicians, national and international agencies, and clients of social services come alive in this engaging history of the ever-changing relationship between public and private social assistance—a topic of seminal importance in our times.
"Gender and Welfare in Mexico engages because it examines shifts: from private Catholic charity to the rhetoric of public state-sponsored welfare; from a cardenista rhetoric that sought to protect those marginalized within capitalism to one that largely eschewed class politics in its celebration of the mother and child; from the rise of the Pan American Congress to its eclipse by UNICEF during the 1950s (in which women tended to play a lesser role); and the changing priorities of international players such as the U.S. government and UNICEF. The book breaks open the period of the 1940s and 1950s, contributing to the history of state formation, political legitimacy, childhood, family, women, and cross-class relations.
"Gender and Welfare in Mexico is an important contribution to the history of women’s expansion of their own cultural, social, and political influence prior to obtaining the right to vote. It is exciting for the way it opens up the histories of specific individuals such as Mathilde Rodríguez Cabo, Enelda Fox, and Margarita Delgado.”
—Susie Porter, University of Utah
“Gender and Welfare in Mexico shifts the center of historical interpretation by placing the rise of professional women within the field of social work as integral to middle-class formation and the consolidation of the PRI. International diplomacy, eugenics, and ideas of modern motherhood informed both the careers of social workers and the lives of the mothers who were their clients. The book breaks open the period of the 1940s and 1950s to examine women’s expansion of their own sociocultural and political influence prior to obtaining the right to vote.”
—Susie Porter, The University of Utah
“Nichole Sanders has produced a study of welfare in politics in mid-twentieth-century Mexico that places middle-class social workers and their impoverished urban clients at the center of the analysis. This important research sheds light on the ways in which international health trends and domestic political imperatives coincided, clashed, and created new opportunities for improving social conditions in the clinics, soup kitchens, and public dormitories of postrevolutionary Mexico City.”
—Katherine E. Bliss, Center for Strategic and International Studies, Georgetown University
“Through a sophisticated and consistent application of gender analysis, Sanders writes an institutional history of the SAP/SSA that sheds light on the relationships among transnational health and hygiene professionals, middle-class women, government agents, and the urban and rural poor. . . . Sanders has written a fine study that establishes clearly the importance of a single government agency in the construction of a modern welfare state, while attending to the gender politics implied in its success.”
—Elena Jackson Albarran, The Americas
“The historiographical significance of the book cannot be overemphasized. We are finally moving from the traditional rescuing of individual heroic female figures to the understanding of gender formation processes as a key to the interplay of power between individuals and the state.”
—Carmen Ramos Escandón, Hispanic American Historical Review