Before the Revolution: Women's Rights and Right-Wing Politics in Nicaragua, 1821-1979 (Paperback)Victoria Gonzalez-Rivera (author)
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Those who survived the brutal dictatorship of the Somoza family have tended to portray the rise of the women's movement and feminist activism as part of the overall story of the anti-Somoza resistance. But this depiction of heroic struggle obscures a much more complicated history. As Victoria Gonz lez-Rivera reveals in this book, some Nicaraguan women expressed early interest in eliminating the tyranny of male domination, and this interest grew into full-fledged campaigns for female suffrage and access to education by the 1880s. By the 1920s a feminist movement had emerged among urban, middle-class women, and it lasted for two more decades until it was eclipsed in the 1950s by a nonfeminist movement of mainly Catholic, urban, middle-class and working-class women who supported the liberal, populist, patron-clientelistic regime of the Somozas in return for the right to vote and various economic, educational, and political opportunities. Counterintuitively, it was actually the Somozas who encouraged women's participation in the public sphere (as long as they remained loyal Somocistas). Their opponents, the Sandinistas and Conservatives, often appealed to women through their maternal identity. What emerges from this fine-grained analysis is a picture of a much more complex political landscape than that portrayed by the simplifying myths of current Nicaraguan historiography, and we can now see why and how the Somoza dictatorship did not endure by dint of fear and compulsion alone.
Publisher: Pennsylvania State University Press
Number of pages: 256
Weight: 386 g
Dimensions: 229 x 152 x 18 mm
"[Before the Revolution: Women's Rights and Right-Wing Politics in Nicaragua] is accessible, interesting and full of compelling questions."
--J. M. Rosenthal, Choice
"Before the Revolution makes a valuable contribution to the study of Nicaraguan political culture that is useful for Central Americanists across disciplines. With its well-crafted narrative style and accessible language, the text is equally engaging for students, researchers, and experts in the field."
--Courtney Desiree Morris, Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology
"While the dominant narrative about the role of women in Nicaraguan politics has traditionally centered on their participation in the 1979 Sandinista revolution, Before the Revolution succeeds in providing a much richer understanding of the history of feminism and women's political participation in Nicaragua, as well as the role of women in right-wing politics more broadly."
--Christine Wade, Journal of Latin American Studies
"This book is a pioneering study of the development of a vibrant feminist movement in Nicaragua during the early twentieth century, as well as of the role of a later generation of women who gave conditional support to the Somoza regime in exchange for suffrage and increased political, educational, and economic opportunities. It also offers an original analysis of sexual politics under the dictatorship and the forging of resilient right-wing clientelistic identities and traditions."
--Frances Kinloch Tijerino, Instituto de Historia de Nicaragua y Centroam rica (IHNCA-UCA)
"Before the Revolution is remarkably successful in replacing the previous narrative of Nicaraguan feminism's beginnings with, as [Gonz lez-Rivera] describes it, 'a radically different revisionist version of Nicaraguan women's history.' The book's tone is intimate and inclusive: Gonz lez-Rivera clarifies terms and explains her research methods, making her work accessible to students as well as scholars."
--Florence E. Babb, Women's Review of Books
"Victoria Gonz lez-Rivera has written a very important book. By uncovering the hidden history of first-wave feminism and the Somocista women's movement in Nicaragua, she has forced us to rethink how we understand both Nicaraguan politics and women's history in general. Her book is engagingly written and jargon free, so it should be very appealing to both students and scholars."
--Karen Kampwirth, Knox College
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