Changing Woman: A History of Racial Ethnic Women in Modern America

Hardcover | April 30, 1999

byKaren Anderson

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While great strides have been made in documenting discrimination against women in America, our awareness of discrimination is due in large part to the efforts of a feminist movement dominated by middle-class white women, and is skewed to their experiences. Yet discrimination against racialethnic women is in fact dramatically different--more complex and more widespread--and without a window into the lives of racial ethnic women our understanding of the full extent of discrimination against all women in America will be woefully inadequate. Now, in this illuminating volume, KarenAnderson offers the first book to examine the lives of women in the three main ethnic groups in the United States--Native American, Mexican American, and African American women--revealing the many ways in which these groups have suffered oppression, and the profound effects it has had on theirlives. Here is a thought-provoking examination of the history of racial ethnic women, one which provides not only insight into their lives, but also a broader perception of the history, politics, and culture of the United States. For instance, Anderson examines the clash between Native Americantribes and the U.S. government (particularly in the plains and in the West) and shows how the forced acculturation of Indian women caused the abandonment of traditional cultural values and roles (in many tribes, women held positions of power which they had to relinquish), subordination to andeconomic dependence on their husbands, and the loss of meaningful authority over their children. Ultimately, Indian women were forced into the labor market, the extended family was destroyed, and tribes were dispersed from the reservation and into the mainstream--all of which dramatically alteredthe woman's place in white society and within their own tribes. The book examines Mexican-American women, revealing that since U.S. job recruiters in Mexico have historically focused mostly on low-wage male workers, Mexicans have constituted a disproportionate number of the illegals entering thestates, placing them in a highly vulnerable position. And even though Mexican-American women have in many instances achieved a measure of economic success, in their families they are still subject to constraints on their social and political autonomy at the hands of their husbands. And finally,Anderson cites a wealth of evidence to demonstrate that, in the years since World War II, African-American women have experienced dramatic changes in their social positions and political roles, and that the migration to large urban areas in the North simply heightened the conflict between homemakerand breadwinner already thrust upon them. Changing Woman provides the first history of women within each racial ethnic group, tracing the meager progress they have made right up to the present. Indeed, Anderson concludes that while white middle-class women have made strides toward liberation from male domination, women of color havenot yet found, in feminism, any political remedy to their problems.

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From Our Editors

While great strides have been made in documenting the historical experiences and actions of middle-class white women in United States, scholarship on racial ethnic women has begun to appear only in recent years as women of color and other scholars have broadened the base of inquiry in women's history. Without a window into the lives of...

From the Publisher

While great strides have been made in documenting discrimination against women in America, our awareness of discrimination is due in large part to the efforts of a feminist movement dominated by middle-class white women, and is skewed to their experiences. Yet discrimination against racialethnic women is in fact dramatically different-...

Karen Anderson is Associate Professor of History at the University of Arizona.

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:304 pages, 9.49 × 6.38 × 1.02 inPublished:April 30, 1999Publisher:Oxford University Press

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0195054628

ISBN - 13:9780195054620

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From Our Editors

While great strides have been made in documenting the historical experiences and actions of middle-class white women in United States, scholarship on racial ethnic women has begun to appear only in recent years as women of color and other scholars have broadened the base of inquiry in women's history. Without a window into the lives of racial ethnic women our understanding of the meanings and dynamics of various forms of social inequality will be woefully inadequate. Now, in this illuminating volume, Karen Anderson offers the first book to examine the lives of women from three important ethnic groups in the United States - Native American, Mexican American, and African American women - revealing the specificities and commonalities of their experiences. Changing Woman provides the first comparative history of women from these racial ethnic groups, explaining changes in the sources and nature of the oppressions in their lives and tracing their progress over time.

Editorial Reviews

"In demonstrating that 'there is no one pattern in the ways women of color have struggled for equality,' Karen Anderson places Native American, Mexican American, and African American women at the center of her analysis. She offers, thereby, a sobering portrait of both the accomplishments andfailures of the feminist movement. Anderson's insightful concentration on the 'women who live at the margins of political and cultural power' forces us to rethink everything we thought we knew about the history of women in twentieth-century America."--Annette Kolodny, author of The Lay of the Landand The Land Before Her