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Feminism for the Americas

The Making of an International Human Rights Movement

By Katherine M. Marino

368 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 28 halftones, notes, bibl., index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4696-6152-0
    Published: August 2020
  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-4696-4969-6
    Published: March 2019
  • eBook ISBN: 978-1-4696-4970-2
    Published: February 2019

Gender and American Culture

Paperback Available August 2020, but pre-order your copy today!

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Awards & distinctions

2020 Luciano Tomassini Book Award, Latin American Studies Association

2020 Barbara "Penny" Kanner Award, Western Association of Women Historians

Honorable Mention, 2020 Frances Richardson Keller-Sierra Prize, Western Association of Women Historians

Honorable Mention, 2020 Mary Nickliss Prize, Organization of American Historians

Shortlisted, 2019 Juan E. Méndez Book Award for Human Rights in Latin America

This book chronicles the dawn of the global movement for women's rights in the first decades of the twentieth century. The founding mothers of this movement were not based primarily in the United States, however, or in Europe. Instead, Katherine M. Marino introduces readers to a cast of remarkable Latin American and Caribbean women whose deep friendships and intense rivalries forged global feminism out of an era of imperialism, racism, and fascism. Six dynamic activists form the heart of this story: from Brazil, Bertha Lutz; from Cuba, Ofelia Domíngez Navarro; from Uruguay, Paulina Luisi; from Panama, Clara González; from Chile, Marta Vergara; and from the United States, Doris Stevens. This Pan-American network drove a transnational movement that advocated women’s suffrage, equal pay for equal work, maternity rights, and broader self-determination. Their painstaking efforts led to the enshrinement of women's rights in the United Nations Charter and the development of a framework for international human rights. But their work also revealed deep divides, with Latin American activists overcoming U.S. presumptions to feminist superiority. As Marino shows, these early fractures continue to influence divisions among today’s activists along class, racial, and national lines.

Marino's multinational and multilingual research yields a new narrative for the creation of global feminism. The leading women introduced here were forerunners in understanding the power relations at the heart of international affairs. Their drive to enshrine fundamental rights for women, children, and all people of the world stands as a testament to what can be accomplished when global thinking meets local action.

About the Author

Katherine M. Marino is assistant professor of history at the University of California, Los Angeles.
For more information about Katherine M. Marino, visit the Author Page.

Reviews

"Would make a welcome addition to courses on feminist theory and women's roles in the Americas, and it should encourage scholars to dig deeper into the lives and works of feminists who were on the frontlines without necessarily publishing books or articles about feminism."--Library Journal, starred review

“In this valuable contribution to the historiography of social movements in the Americas, Marino chronicles the impact of the women’s movement of leaders from six countries--Uruguay, Brazil, Panama, Cuba, the US, and Chile--in the interwar years . . . Marino successfully demonstrates that this was a vital period in Pan-American relations.”--Choice Reviews

“A brilliant and ambitious new account of the origins of global feminism . . . . Feminism for the Americas reconstructs a radical, transnational, and influential movement for women’s equality and social justice.”--International Feminist Journal of Politics

“Marino’s historical analysis is timely and necessary, for it renders accessible this neglected arena of the complex struggle for women’s rights in the Western Hemisphere.”--Latino Book Review

“As Marino exposes her subjects’ passionate advocacy and agonizing decisions over political strategy from their personal correspondence and conference minutes, the threads from this extraordinary breadth of primary sources are woven into a seamless story. . . .Feminism for the Americas creates a road map for decades of future research.”--H-Net Reviews

"This book supersedes all previous treatments of Pan-American feminism between the 1920s and the 1950s as well as those of the international work of the National Woman's Party of the United States. It will also force critical revisions in understanding how human rights and women’s rights were articulated in the United Nations Charter. Marino's stupendous research on two continents in three languages has uncovered and enabled her to write an entirely new portrayal of work for and against equal rights treaties by feminists of the Americas. She goes behind the scenes of international meetings and conferences to provide gripping and shrewd portraits of six leading women's lives and political evolution. We hear their voices; we feel we understand their emotions as well as their political stances; the narrative advances dramatically as personalities and politics alternately converge and conflict. This is the most convincing case I have ever seen for decentering the United States in histories of transnational or international work, in order to tell the full story."--Nancy F. Cott, author of Public Vows: A History of Marriage and the Nation

Multimedia & Links

Listen

Marino talks to Lilian Calles Barger for the New Books Network podcast. (6/24/2019, running time 54:22)