Fall 2008

Gender and Ethnicity in Latin America


Manuela Picq (Section 01)


This course explores gender and ethnicity in Latin America, focusing on the tension between universal rights and cultural rights. The first part maps the daily lives of indigenous women across the region, looking at indigenous women in Central America (Mexico and Guatemala), the Andes (Ecuador, Chile, and Bolivia) and the Amazon (Shuar, Huaorani). We look at socio-economic indicators, gender-based violence, and political participation, while taking into consideration history and culture. In the second part of the course, we examine the ways social and political movements (e.g., agrarian reform, democratic, and environmental movements, the New Left), and, most recently, discourses of indigenous rights (e.g., Ecuador’s Pachakutik) have affected them and their communities over time. Through various case studies, such as that of Rigoberta Menchú in Guatemala, we analyze women’s capacity to maneuver politics of identity to advance their rights as women and as Indians. The third part pays special attention to the issue of minorities within minorities and the debate between universalism and cultural relativism. This section explores issues such as indigenous justice and the discrepancies between international norms of gender and the inequalities prevailing in indigenous practice. Through the lenses of gender, this course offers a window on the complexity of Latin America. Fall semester. Visiting Professor Picq.