Social Movements and Gender: A View from Latin America

LAS 4935
Section MW00, Class #28902
LAS 6938
Section MW08, Class #28903

Days: Mondays
Times: 12:50pm- 3:50pm
Location: TBA

Course description

This seminar examines social and cultural movements led by women and LGBTQ activists in twentieth-century Latin America. We will analyze the major moments of social and political change in the region through the prisms of gender, race, and sexuality, asking how these transitions were experienced by women and people of non-normative genders and sexualities, problematizing and disaggregating these categories through rigorous analysis. What does it mean to be a “woman” doing politics? How did women and queer people envision social change in both the domestic sphere and the formal political arena? How did archetypes of gender and sexuality shift during moments of political change and how were they entrenched? How can we think of cultural production as a way in which subaltern subjects think and act politically and how do cultural movements intersect with formal politics? And finally, how do these social and cultural movements map onto historiographical concepts of feminism and LGBTQ activism originating in the Global North? In approaching these questions, we will interrogate notions of “revolutionary masculinity,” looking to how both grassroots politics and political change forged from the top down were expressed in deeply gendered and racialized ways. We will pay close attention to how these processes played out differently for women of different social classes, geographic origins, races, and ethnic identities, while situating our analysis in conversation both within and outside of the global sexual revolution and the first, second, and third waves of feminism. 
While we will focus primarily on women and queer people as vanguards of progressive change, the course will also consider women as agents of reactionary and conservative politics, examining Catholic activism and pro-regime mobilizations during the Cold War dictatorships of the Southern Cone. We will center our discussions around the question of how gender is treated in the historiography of this period, drawing our attention to archival silences with regard to the perspectives of women and LGBTQ people. In order to remediate these silences, we will look to a wide array of sources (beyond the types of written documents that privilege certain voices over others) to illuminate plural historical perspectives, such as memoirs, visual art, oral histories, music, and other manifestations of folk art and popular culture. Written assignments will ask students to make use of such sources in their historical argumentation.


Meg Weeks
Assistant Professor
Center for Latin American Studies
378 Grinter Hall