Revolutionary Women in Postrevolutionary Mexico

Revolutionary Women in Postrevolutionary Mexico

Next Wave: New Directions in Women's Studies

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Book Pages: 352 Illustrations: 5 photos, 4 maps, 1 table Published: January 2006

Gender and Sexuality > Feminism and Women’s Studies, History > Latin American History, Latin American Studies > Mexico

Revolutionary Women in Postrevolutionary Mexico is an empirically rich history of women’s political organizing during a critical stage of regime consolidation. Rebutting the image of Mexican women as conservative and antirevolutionary, Jocelyn Olcott shows women activists challenging prevailing beliefs about the masculine foundations of citizenship. Piecing together material from national and regional archives, popular journalism, and oral histories, Olcott examines how women inhabited the conventionally manly role of citizen by weaving together its quotidian and formal traditions, drawing strategies from local political struggles and competing gender ideologies.

Olcott demonstrates an extraordinary grasp of the complexity of postrevolutionary Mexican politics, exploring the goals and outcomes of women’s organizing in Mexico City and the port city of Acapulco as well as in three rural locations: the southeastern state of Yucatán, the central state of Michoacán, and the northern region of the Comarca Lagunera. Combining the strengths of national and regional approaches, this comparative perspective sets in relief the specificities of citizenship as a lived experience.


“[T]he study’s multispatial approach merits praise. Olcott’s study provides a layered analysis of women’s movements that illuminates the dynamic nature of citizenship as a strategic tool for social and political mobilization.” — Sophia Koutsoyannis, Canadian Journal of History

“It is paradoxical that while revolutionary Mexico’s religious history has been less studied than its secular counterpart, we know rather more about Catholic—as opposed to revolutionary—women’s activism. . . . Now, however, Jocelyn Olcott’s well-reasearched study goes no short way towards righting this imbalance, besides being of considerable import and interest in its own right.” — Matthew Butler, Journal of Latin American Studies

“Jocelyn Olcott delivers a rich and complicated picture of Mexican women’s struggles for social, political and economic freedoms within the tumultuous years of Cárdenas’s Presidency through juxtaposing detailed historical data with accounts from the lives of individual feminist activists.” — Jennifer M. Woolston, Journal of the American Studies Association of Texas

“Jocelyn Olcott’s insightful monograph, Revolutionary Women in Postrevolutionary Mexico, expands our understanding of women’s activism and popular mobilization during the Lázaro Cárdenas years. . . . One of the monograph’s greatest contributions to the literature comes from Olcott’s constant respect for how politics at local, regional and national level turn in different directions and at different speeds, yet constantly interacting, like the inner workings of a clock.” — Patience A. Schell, A Contracorriente

“Olcott has decisively advanced the field in terms of substantive argument while setting new standards of theoretical sophistication, methodological accomplishment, and programmatic advancement. Most important, her conceptual approach holds promise for those in other disciplines, including political science.” — John D. French>, Latin American Politics and Society

“Olcott has made an important contribution to the study of Mexican gender history and enriched our understanding of the Mexican Revolution’s institutionalization, and her study has implications for historians’ thinking about gender, citizenship, and revolution anywhere in the world.” — Anne Rubenstein, American Historical Review

“This book is a valuable addition to the growing literature gendering Mexico's revolution. Its depth and theoretical grounding raise important comparisons for scholars of history and politics throughout the Americas.” — Ann S. Blum, Gender & History

“This book will serve in many classroom and research contexts, as it provides an important examination of the multiple roles women played in Mexico’s social revolution, and how their inclusion in history is part and parcel of the ongoing struggle to ensure citizens’ full enjoyment of their rights.” — Kristina A. Boylan, The Americas

“This fascinating study of women in postrevolutionary Mexico brings to life the multiple forms of struggle that women engaged in during the late 1920s and the 1930s. Based on extensive research, it both offers telling examples of women’s local activism and shows the connections between it and the larger political context in which it occurs.” — Margaret Power, EIAL

“With stunning detail and attention to its significance, Jocelyn Olcott unearths the rich worlds of women’s activism in postrevolutinoary Mexico and develops her thesis on the construction of citizenship.” — Susie S. Porter, Hispanic American Historical Review

“Jocelyn Olcott’s book combines impressive original research, lucid exposition, and keen insight. Three valuable case studies offer broad comparative analysis informed by telling details, examples, and anecdotes. Above all, the book successfully blends innovative women’s history with big, old, unresolved questions about popular mobilization, state-building, and the rise and fall of Cardenismo.” — Alan Knight, author of The Mexican Revolution

“This book is extraordinarily important as a work of feminist political history. It’s a breathtakingly ambitious tour of Mexican women’s movements and feminist politics that will stand as a model for future histories of Latin American feminism and state formation.” — Heidi Tinsman, author of Partners in Conflict


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Jocelyn Olcott is the Andrew W. Mellon Assistant Professor of History at Duke University.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Acknowledgments vii

Introduction. The Daughters of La Malinche: Gender and Revolutionary Citizenship 1

1. “A Right to Struggle”: Revolutionary Citizenship and the Birth of Mexican Feminism 27

2. Laboratory of Cardenismo: Constructing Michoacán’s Postrevolutionary Edifice 60

3. Educators and Organizers: Populating the National Women’s Movement 93

4. “All the Benefits of the Revolution”: Labor and Citizenship in the Comarca Lagunera 123

5. “Her Dignity as a Woman and Her Sovereignty as Citizen”: Claiming Revolutionary Citizenship 159

6. “All Are Avowed Socialists”: Political Conflict and Women’s Organizing in Yucatán 201

Conclusions and Epilogue: The Death of Cardenismo 232

Notes 245

Bibliography 287

Index 321

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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-3665-5 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-3653-2
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