Womens Lives in Colonial Quito: Gender, Law, and Economy in Spanish America

Paperback | August 1, 2009

byKimberly Gauderman

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What did it mean to be a woman in colonial Spanish America? Given the many advances in women's rights since the nineteenth century, we might assume that colonial women had few rights and were fully subordinated to male authority in the family and in society—but we'd be wrong. In this provocative study, Kimberly Gauderman undermines the long-accepted patriarchal model of colonial society by uncovering the active participation of indigenous, mestiza, and Spanish women of all social classes in many aspects of civil life in seventeenth-century Quito.

Gauderman draws on records of criminal and civil proceedings, notarial records, and city council records to reveal women's use of legal and extra-legal means to achieve personal and economic goals; their often successful attempts to confront men's physical violence, adultery, lack of financial support, and broken promises of marriage; women's control over property; and their participation in the local, interregional, and international economies. This research clearly demonstrates that authority in colonial society was less hierarchical and more decentralized than the patriarchal model suggests, which gave women substantial control over economic and social resources.

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What did it mean to be a woman in colonial Spanish America? Given the many advances in women's rights since the nineteenth century, we might assume that colonial women had few rights and were fully subordinated to male authority in the family and in society—but we'd be wrong. In this provocative study, Kimberly Gauderman undermines the...

Kimberly Gauderman is Assistant Professor of History at the University of New Mexico.
Format:PaperbackDimensions:195 pages, 8.97 × 6.03 × 0.51 inPublished:August 1, 2009Publisher:University Of Texas PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0292722230

ISBN - 13:9780292722231

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Table of Contents

Preface. Nothing Stays the Same: One City, Two WomenAcknowledgmentsIntroduction. Putting Women in Their PlaceChapter 1. Ambiguous Authority, Contingent Relations: The Nature of Power in Seventeenth-Century Spanish AmericaChapter 2. Married Women and Property RightsChapter 3. Women and the Criminal Justice SystemChapter 4. Women as EntrepreneursChapter 5. Indigenous Market WomenChapter 6. ConclusionNotesBibliographyIndex

Editorial Reviews

Overall, this book contributes significantly to the field by shedding a great deal of light on the complex terrain in which the women, men, and state officials of colonial Quito negotiated policies and power. Its careful analysis, rich data, and readability will make it enormously useful in both research pursuits and the classroom. - Erin O'Connor