Wost 392D Fall 2000 Syllabus Latin American Feminisms: Theory and Practice

Professor Ann Ferguson
Women's Studies Bartlett 208 Phone:545-5330
Office Hours: W 11-1 pm.
Philosophy Bartlett 370 Phone: 545-5802
Office Hours: Tuesday 3-5 pm.
Or by appointment

Required Books (All Books Available at Food for Thought Bookstore in Amherst):

Gaby Kuppers, ed. Companeras: Voices from the Latin American Women's Movement (1994, Latin American Bureau, Monthly Review Press) $18.

Maria Teresa Tula Hear My Testimony: Maria Teresa Tula, Human Rights Activist of El Salvador (1994, Boston: South End Press) $14

Ferguson Reader Part I (xerox): Available at Paradise Copies, Northampton $20
(Reader Part II, either together or as separate handouts, will be available through Women's Studies, Bartlett 208, in October.)

Optional Books: (10 copies)

Elvia Alvarado Don't Be Afraid Gringo: A Honduran Woman speaks from the Heart
(1987, New York: Harper) $12

Maria Lopez Vigil Cuba: Neither Heaven Nor Hell (DC: Epica) $15.95

S. Westwood and S. Radcliffe, eds. VIVA: Women and Popular Protest in Latin America (New York: Routledge) $25

Note: All readings not included in the required books or the Course Reader will be available on 3 day Reserve, 3rd floor, Dubois Library. The Reader Part I will be available on 2 hour and overnight loan.


There are 4 main course requirements for this course: Class Participation, 2 Class Reports, a Take-Home Mid-Term Exam and a Term Paper, due at the end of the semester. Several parts of the course (e.g. the Write-Ups of the Class Reports, and parts of the Take-Home Mid-Term Exam) may be re-written to receive higher credit. In this way it is hoped that individual effort, not just students' initial background or skills, will be an important factor in the final grade.

1. Class Participation (20%): This component involves regular attendance in class and submission of a "motivated question" and answer once a week. A motivated question is a question on an assigned reading that is of importance to you (not just some factual question), and is able to be discussed by the class. The motivated question should be turned in at the beginning of the class it is assigned for, to serve as class discussion, and then your write-up of the discussion of the question and its answer (no more than 2 pages) will be due at the following class.

2. Class Reports (30%): Each student will be expected to choose 2 readings from the syllabus upon which to do a 10 minute presentation to the class. You will be expected to then state an opinion and raise a question for the class to discuss in connection with your presentation. Please do not feel that you have to give a summary of the whole article!! Be selective, and pick some part of the article that you feel would be relevant to the class and of interest to discuss, perhaps in connection with the other assigned readings for the class. Part of your report will be a 2-5 page write-up of your presentation and your take on the class discussion it generated. You should defend an opinion in this short paper.

3. Mid-Term Take Home Exam (25%): This will be an open book mid-term exam, consisting of both essay and short answer questions. It will be given out Nov. 2 and due back Nov. 9. There will be an opportunity to re-write essay questions for higher credit.

4. Final Term Paper (25%): This will be a research paper, from 8-15 pages, of your original research on some topic relevant to the class. An outline and preliminary draft of the term paper will be due Dec. 5 in class.


I. Sept. 7-11 Overview (Intro)
Historical overview: Latin American Women's Movements in the light of imperialism, colonialism in Latin America (1 week)


  1. S. Westwood and S. Radcliffe "Gender, Racism and the Politics of Identities in Latin America", Reader.
  2. G. Sen and C. Grown "Gender and Class", Reader.
  3. J. Franco "The Long March of Feminism", NACLA 31 (1998), Reader.
  4. V. Vargas "Between Hope and Disenchantment: The Women's Movement in Latin America", Reader.
Optional: L. Green Fear as a Way of Life: Mayan Widows in Guatemala, ch. 2, Reader

II. Theory Questions in the light of Political Practice: Feminism, Development and Popular Women's Movements (1 weeks)

Sept. 14: Topic: Comparison of feminist theory to US and European concepts:

  • --Gender vs Sex and its Issues
  • --Gender Analysis: important issues, agreements and disagreements
    (role of the Sexual Division of Labor, women's caring work, public/private split, self esteem, oppression/power)


    1. O. Schutte, "Cultural Identity, Liberation and Feminist Theory", Reader
    2. J. Foweraker "Ten Theses on Women in the Political Life of Latin America" in Rodriguez, ed., Reader.
    3. H. Safa "Women's Social Movements in Latin America", Reader.
    4. Optional: Marcela La Garde Claves Feministas para el Poderio y la autonomia de las Mujeres, in Spanish, Segunda Parte. (Class Report)
    5. Optional: B. Mendoza Sintiendose Mujer: Pensandose Feminista, selection (Class Report)

    B. Sept. 19-21: Topics: The economics of capitalist global development:

  • modernist, Marxist vs. postmodernist/postcolonial interpretations of development
  • Feminist Disagreements (Universalism, Generalization, Analytic Concepts and Pomo Critiques)


    1. View Video: Global Assembly Line
    2. L. Beneria "The Foreign Debt Crisis and the Social Costs of Adjustment in LA". Reader
    3. J. Rowlands "A Word of the Times, but What does it Mean? Empowerment in the Discourse and Practice of Development", Reader.
    4. Hirshman "Women and Development: A Critique" in Marchand and Parpart, eds. Feminism/Postmodernism/Development, Reader.
    5. R. Ray and A. C. Korteweg "Women's Movements in the Third World", Reader
    6. Pamela Sparr "Banking on Women: Structural Adjustment 101, from off our backs, July 2000, handout.
    7. Optional: C. Deere and M Leon, eds. Rural Women and State Policy: Feminist Perspectives on Latin American Agricultural Development, Introduction (Class Report)
    Optional: G. Sen and C. Grown ch 2. "Systematic Crises", from Sen and Grown, op. cit. (Class Report)

    C. Sept. 26: Topics: Questions of definition, theory and practice
  • Female vs Feminist Movements,
  • Molyneux's distinctions between practical and strategic interests).
  • Reading:

    1. M. Molyneux "Mobilization without Emancipation? Women's Interests, the State and Revolution in Nicaragua", Reader.
    2. Marchand "Latin American Women Speak on Development: Are We Listening Yet?" Reader.
    3. Stephen "Women's Rights are Human Rights: The Merging of Feminine and Feminist Interests among El Salvador's Mothers of the Disappeared (Co-Madres)", Reader.
    4. M Villavicencio (Peru) "The Feminist Movement and the Social Movement: Willing Partners?" in G. Kuppers, ed. Companeras.
    5. Optional: Corcoran-Nantes "Female Consciousness or Feminist Consciousness? Women's C-R in Brazil", in Viva (Class Report)

    III. Country-Specific Women's Movement Histories and Testimonies

    A. Sept. 28, Oct. 3 Nicaragua

    Video Showing: Frontlines of Feminism: Women's Assembly on the Constitution in Nicaragua

    1. A. Criquillon "The Nicaraguan Women's Movement: Feminist Reflections From Within", Reader.
    2. M. De Montis "Power and Patriarchy: The Long Struggle to Forge a Coordinated Women's Movement in Nicaragua", Reader
    3. M. Randall "Rethinking Power from a Feminist Vision", Reader
    4. Vance "Self-help Housing", Reader
    5. Optional: "Rostros de Mujer", in Spanish (selection) (Class Report)
    6. Optional: A. Ferguson "The New Feminist Subject: Feminism, Citizenship and Democracy in Nicaragua" (Class Report)
    7. Optional: N. Chinchilla "Feminism, Revolution and Democratic Transition in Nicaragua" in Jaquette, ed. The Women's Movement in Latin America, 2nd ed. (Class Report)
    8. Optional: J. Puar "Nicaraguan Women, Resistance and the Politics of Aid", in H. Afshar, ed. Women and Politics in the Third World

    B. Oct. 5, 10 El Salvador


    1. "Maria's Companeras", from Maria Teresa Tula Hear My Testimony
    2. M.T Tula Hear My Testimony, ch. 1-6
    3. M.T Tula Hear My Testimony, ch 7-14 (Class report)

    C. Oct. 12, 17 Guatemala

    1. J. Schirmer "Seeking of Truth and Gendering of Consciousness: Comadres of El Salvador and CONAVIGUA widows of Guatemala", in Viva, Reader
    2. L. Green Fear as a Way of Life: Mayan Widows of Guatemala, ch. 4, Reader
    3. E. Regis-Debray, ed. I Rigoberta Menchu, ch 22-24, and G. Otis "Rigoberta Menchu "On the Trail of Dictators", handout.
    4. Optional: "Anteproyecto de Ley a Favor de las Trabajadoras de Casa Particular" and L. Jimenez Chacon "Surgimiento y Evolucion Historica del Centro de Apoyo para la Trabajadora de Casa Particular CENTRACAP" (in Spanish) (Class Report).
    5. Optional: M. Kokotovic "Theory at the Margins: Latin American "Testimonio" and Intellectual Authority in the North American Academy" (Class Report).

    IV. Autonomy vs. Integration

    A. Oct.19, 24 Relation to Left Revolutionary Movements
    Video viewing: Americas 9: Fire in the Mind
    Visitor: Dalila Balfour from Honduras


    1. L. Stephen "Women for Dignity and Life: The Emergence of Feminisms from El Salvador's Revolutionary Left", Stephen ch. 3, Reader.
    2. V. Nunez " The FSLN Leadership's Disintegration Goes Way Back", Reader.
    3. M.D. T. Marques "Feminism in the Workers' Party (Brazil)" in Kuppers, ed.
    4. Optional: J. D. Shayne "Gendered Revolutionary Bridges: Women in the Salvadoran Resistance Movement (1979-92)".

    B. Oct. 26-31 Relation to the State (National images, institutionalization)


    1. V. Schild "New Subjects of Rights? Women's Movements and the Construction of Citizenship in the 'New Democracies'", Reader II.
    2. M. Feijoo and M. Nari "Women and Democracy in Argentina", in Jaquette, ed., Reader II.
    3. S. Radcliffe " People have to Rise Up-Like the Great Women Fighters: The State and Peasant Women in Peru", in VIVA, Reader II.
    4. N. Wiegersma "State Policy and the Restructuring of Women's Industries in Nicaragua", Reader II.
    5. C. Ewig "Strengths and Limits of the NGO Women's Movement Model: Shaping Nicaragua's Democratic Institutions", Reader II.
    6. Optional: N. Craske Women and Politics in Latin America, ch. 8 (Class Report)
    7. Optional: A. Lind "Gender and Neoliberal States: Feminists Remake the Nation in Ecuador" (Class Report)
    8. Optional: V. Schild "Neo-Liberalism's New Gendered Market Citizens: The 'Civilizing' Dimensions of Social Programs in Chile"

    B. Nov. 2 Relation to International/Global Feminism: Encuentros, International and UN Conferences


    1. S.Alvarez " Latin American Feminisms Go Global" in Alvarez, Dagnino and Escobar, eds., Reader II.
    2. N. Sternbach et al "Feminisms in LA: From Bogota to San Bernardo" in Alvarez and Escobar, eds. 1992, Reader I (note: out of order).
    3. V. Vargas "Disputando el Espacio Global", Reader II
    4. E.J. Friedman "Latin American Feminists Meet in the Dominican Republic", Reader II
    5. J. Franco "Defrocking the Vatican" in Alvarez, Dagnino and Escobar, eds., Reader II

    Mid-Term Take-Home Exam Handed Out Nov. 2

    V. Nov. 7-9 Differences and Inequalities Between Women (Race, Ethnicity, Class, Sexuality)
    Topics: Poverty/popular class issues, how central? Race and ethnicity, how handled?
    --Sexuality: how central to analysis, how handled?


    1. C. Camusso "Black Women in a White World (Uruguay)", Kuppers, ed.
    2. E. Maier "Sex and Class as a Single Entity (Mexico)" in Kuppers, ed.
    3. M. Thayer "Identity, Revolution and Democracy: Lesbian Movements in Central America", Reader II
    4. P. Cruz "The Lesbian Feminist Group Las Entendidas", Reader II
    5. Optional: E. M Chaney and A. Moreno Valenzuela "Organizing Household Workers" from Friedmann et al, eds., Emergences (Class Report)

    Mid-Term Exam Due Back Nov. 9

    VI. Nov. 14-16 Women's Human Rights (1 week)
    Problem of relation to state, int'l law; Theory interpretation (individual vs collective vs special) and role of the UN
    Issues: violence, reproductive rights, sexuality, health, education, economic/subsistence


    1. Friedman "Women's Human Rights: The Emergence of a Movement"
    2. A. de Mejia "Demanding Women's Rights in the Shadow of the Military" (Honduras), in Kuppers, ed.
    3. E. Jelin "Women, Gender and Human Rights", Reader II
    4. M.A. Teles "A Feminist Perspective on Power and Population Control (Brazil)" in Kuppers, ed.
    5. L. E. Repetto "Women Against Violence Against Women (Uruguay)" in Kuppers, ed.
    6. Optional: E. Hardt "Global Feminism and Local Violence: The Struggle against Violence against Women in Lima, Peru"

    VII. Feminism and Democracy (1 week)
    Some Issues: Citizenship, National vs local feminist "incidencia politica", cross-party women's coalitions? Community organizing/networking, Representative vs. Participatory democracy

    (1) Nov. 21 Representative Democracy

    1. Jane Jaquette "Intro: From Transition to Participation--Women's Movements and Democratic Politics", Reader II
    2. Lamas, Martinez, Tarres and Tunon "Building Bridges: Feminism in Mexico" from Basu, ed., Reader II.
    3. Montenegro, Sofia "The Women's Movement in Nicaragua", Reader II.
    4. Optional: Marta Lamas "De la A a la Z: A Feminist Alliance Experience in Mexico" in Rodriguez 1998 (Class Report).
    (2) Nov. 28 Radical Democracy:
    Video viewing: Zapatista Encuentro

    1. Lynn Stephen "Gender and Grassroots Organizing: Lessons from Chiapas" in Rodriguez ed. 1998, Reader II
    2. "Women in Chiapas" off our backs, Reader II
    3. E. Poniatowska, "Women, Mexico and Chiapas", in Katzenberger ed., Reader II.
    4. "The Revolutionary Women's Law" in Ibid, Reader II
    5. Optional: L. Stephen "Democracy for Whom? Women's Grassroots Political Activism in the 1990s, Mexico City and Chiapas" (Class Report)
    6. Optional : N. Harvey "Zapatistas and Women's Struggles"
    7. Optional: C. Eber "Seeking Our Own Food: Indigenous Women's Power and Autonomy in San Pedro Chanalho, Chiapas (1980-1998).
    VIII. Cuba and Alternative Visions and Strategies

    A. Nov. 30, Dec.5-7 Cuba
    Video: Cuba Calls, We Must Answer


    1. M. Lopez Vigil Cuba: Neither Heaven nor Hell, ch. 1, 5, Reader II.
    2. L. Smith and A. Padula, Sex and Revolution: Women in Socialist Cuba, ch. 13, Reader II
    3. C. Aguilar and A. Chenard "Is There a Place for Feminism in the Revolution? (Cuba)", in Kuppers, ed.
    4. C. Fusco "Hustling for Dollars: Jineterismo in Cuba", in K. Kempadoo and J. Doezema, eds. Global Sex Workers, Reader II.
    5. Optional: A. Cabezas "Discourses of Prostitution: The Case of Cuba" from K. Kempadoo and J. Doezema, eds. Global Sex Workers (Class Report)
    6. Optional: M. Nazzari On Cuba, in S. Kruks, et al, eds. Promissory Notes (Class Report)
    7. Optional: L. Smith and A. Padula Sex and Revolution: Women in Socialist Cuba, skim.
    8. Optional: M. Lopez Vigil Cuba: Neither Heaven Nor Hell, skim

    A. Dec.12-14 Alternative Development, Visions and Strategies (1 week)

    1. G. Sen and C. Grown ch. 3, Reader II.
    2. S. Alvarez "Concluding Reflections" from Friedmann et al, eds., Reader II.
    3. A. Miles Integrative Feminisms, ch. 9, Reader II.
    4. G. Acosta "Feminism and the New World Order (Peru)" in Kuppers ed.
    5. S. Montenegro "The Future from a Female Point of View" in Kuppers ed.
    6. Optional: Alternatives for the Americas: Building a People's Hemispheric Agreement
    Additional Resources for Papers:

    Sonia Alvarez, Sonia and Arturo Escobar, eds. The Making of Social Movements in Latin America (1991, Westview)
    Sonia Alvarez, Evelina Dagnino and Arturo Escobar, eds Cultures of Politics, Pollitics of Cultures: Re-visioning Latin American Social Movements (1998, Westview)
    John Friedmann, Rebecca Abers and Lilian Autler, eds. Emergences: Women's Struggles for Livelihood in Latin America (1996 UCLA)
    Elizabeth Jelin,ed. Women and Social Change in Latin America (1994, Zed)
    Jane Jaquette ed. The Women's Movement in Latin America, 2nd ed. (1994, Westview)
    Elaine Katzenberger, ed. First World Ha Ha Ha! The Zapatista Challenge (1995, City Lights)
    Ilse Abshagen Leitinger, ed. & tr. The Costa Rican Women's Movement, A Reader (1997, University of Pittsburgh Press).
    Breny Mendoza Sintiendose Mujer, Pensandose Feminista: La construccion del movimiento feminista en Honduras (1996, Editorial Guaymuras).
    Victoria E. Rodriguez, ed. Women's Participation in Mexican Political Life (1998, Westview)
    Minor Sinclair and June Nash, eds. The New Politics of Survival: Grassroots Movements in Central America (1995, Monthly Review)
    Lynn Stephen Women and Social Movements in Latin America: Power from Below (1997, University of Texas)
    Gertrude Yeager, ed. Confronting Change, Challenging Tradition: Women in Latin American History (1994, Scholarly Resources)