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How did the Spanish colonial authorities undermine and eventually strip native women of their traditional rights?

The reading in The Legacy of Mesoamerica will give you insight into pre-Columbian gender relations. Although the text focuses on Mesoamerica, the customs here are broadly applicable to other native cultures. If you were to look at gender relations amongst North American groups you would also find that they were far in advance of anything the Europeans had to offer at the time – as were relations with children. In this chapter you will learn about gender parallelism, and ritual sweeping and childbirth as equivalents to warfare, and the legal and social role of women in Aztec and Mayan society. You will also see how Spanish society transformed the position and role of women in colonial times and the way in which women rebelled and fought back against their loss of status. This is a rich and complex history deserving of a much longer and deeper study than we can give here. But it is a beginning.

Pay particular attention to the functions of witchcraft and possession, the use of convents, and the mystical forms that feminist protest took in earlier times. Look also at the role that women have played in guerrilla and revolutionary movements over the past 500 years. A whole new women’s history begins to emerge.

1. Reading:

The Legacy of Mesoamerica

Pages 439-475

Global Studies :

Article 11 Pages 266-269

2. Reaction Paper: How did the Spanish colonial authorities undermine and eventually strip native women of their traditional rights? How did the women fight back?

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