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History 109, Week 8 Monday Notes

by: McKenzie Notetaker

History 109, Week 8 Monday Notes History 109

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Notes on gender in the New World.
Introduction to Latin American Civilization
Neal David Polhemus
Class Notes
Colonialism, Latin America
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This 3 page Class Notes was uploaded by McKenzie Notetaker on Tuesday October 4, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to History 109 at University of South Carolina taught by Neal David Polhemus in Fall 2016. Since its upload, it has received 9 views. For similar materials see Introduction to Latin American Civilization in History at University of South Carolina.


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Date Created: 10/04/16
History 109 Lecture 10/3/2016 Family and Gender Relations in the Colonial Order LA=Latin America Main Points 1. Family was the building block to colonial society. 2. Patriarchy and family structure is what tied the New World to Iberia. 3. The female experience in colonies was shaped by their race. Iberian Patterns of Gender • Fathers ruled everything, the house, religion, the whole world • Patriarchy in Latin America comes from colonialism • Women were isolated, chaperoned, protected from impurity Godparenthood • This was a strategy that women of African descent used to increase their status through creating relationships through godparenthood • Godparents had a special relationship with the child/their parents, this expanded the social networks of the parents and increased their social status Women and Catholic Religion • The new world was deeply religious, Catholicism guided life choices, social interactions • Convents: gave women a choice - Women had two choices, be a nun or get married - A convent could serve religious needs - They were tied to white society, being developed for and serving them first - Mostly developed in urban societies, Mexico City’s convent was created in 1540 - They would draw from the wealthy, show status this way - Windows would often use their money to start a convent and then take vows and join it - It required a cash dowry and a yearly income to be in a convent - The decision to join a convent was highly celebrated, had a big, expensive celebration similar to a wedding - Convents could earn money through the nuns managing land (rent, mortgages) and through loans - For families, having a relative in a convent served as a form of credit Marriage and Ties to Iberia • Inheritance depended on legitimacy and closeness of blood relations to the person, not gender • Marriage was seen as a partnership, its’ worth depending on 3 things 1. Property of the wife/dowry 2. Property of the husband 3. Property earned during the marriage - The woman was seen as a useful partner • This structure was similar to the marriages in Iberia Women’s Economic Power • In urban places, women had more opportunities to make money • widows, when their husbands died, had full control over their dowry, they could own mines and businesses - widows controlled the family finances, was responsible for the dowry of her daughters • women could have normal jobs such as farming, merchants • some women could have more odd jobs, such as potion makers • most women worked in urban societies since only one income could not sustain the family, women’s income in urban spaces were twice as important as women’s income in the periphery Protecting the honor of Women • for wives, avoiding extramarital relationships was crucial but for men, it was more relaxed • people were suspicious of women who weren’t controlled by men, even widows • these rules were so strict that women absorbed and adhered to them • only women of wealth had honor to protect, honor was defined by wealth, so poorer women had no honor, rules didn’t matter as much - the families honor depended on the sexual purity of the women of the family • control over women differed based on social groups • fathers were very concerned with their daughter’s purity and could send them to convents to prevent temptation • Houses of Seclusion: places where battered and abused women could go to avoid their husbands, but this was only a temporary solution - Through priests or nobles, women could gain enough leverage to get a divorce, but this rarely happened - These houses protected the women’s honor • The patriarchy was intertwined into daily life, all the time Native American and Mestizo Gender Relations • Pre-conquest, gender roles between husband and wife were less strict, they were more equal in terms of power and work • Spanish conquest strengthened the power of fathers in the household • Colonial patriarchy developed and changed indigenous familial ideals • Spanish and Portuguese men married Native American and Mestizo women, creating households with mixed children - The children shared the father’s desires for purity and honor and served as intermediaries for language and culture between indigenous and European people Labor and Economy • Poor, free, and enslaved women lived difficult lives, but engaged in society and dominated markets and were farmers • The male ideal of accounts from this time obscure the contribution of women • Obrajes: primitive factories that women worked in and often managed, created textiles - women also managed ceramics factories • Poor masters who didn’t have that many slaves relied on women to maintain tools, prepare goods to be processed • Women could wash clothes for money • Midwives: common occupation for women, mostly indigenous women, have religious rituals, were seen as blessed because of their links with fertility, was a knowledge base that was exclusively held by women -viewed by doctors as poor, bizarre, and having little authority - they actually delivered most of the children in LA African Gender Roles on Plantations • Women were forced to work with no regards for their age or gender, work was based on strength • Women were sometimes given different positions such as drivers of weaker groups of slaves • The work of women was essential during harvesting season, they were expected to have the same amount of stamina as men, while white women were expected to do no work • A lot of male slaves were skilled workers, had mobility • Women’s jobs were not skilled, had no mobility, had no rewards for work, they were mostly field workers • Women also had domestic work, cleaning, taking care of children -they worked all day every day • The slave population depended on influx of shipments of slaves since there were a lot more men than women slaves, they could not repopulate on their own Sugar Refinement • African slaves would refine the sugar and cook it down, the white women would enjoy the sugar Urban Labor and Freedom in LA • Manumission: a way for slaves to be freed, was an intricate system, there were a few forms of manumission 1. Slave was freed immediately with no compensation from them to their owner 2. Slave was freed immediately after paying their master 3. Was conditional, based on completing a set term of service or freed after the owner’s death • Slaves could self-purchase their freedom, after setting a price, they would pay installment as they earned money to their owner • Coarticion, gradual self-purchase in Cuba, this was mostly practiced in urban cities where there were opportunities for side-jobs, not likely in the periphery • This practice had no roots in Iberia • Women could free themselves legally Summary 1. Patriarchy was the model for the society. 2. Iberian women perpetuated Spanish culture. 3. Mestiza women bridged Iberian and Native American cultures, 4. African women headed families and did hard labor. 5. Patriarchy is a legacy of colonialism.


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