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Women's Lives in Colonial Quito Gender, Law, and Economy in Spanish America by Kimberly Gauderman

Women's Lives in Colonial Quito Gender, Law, and Economy in Spanish America


Women's Lives in Colonial Quito Gender, Law, and Economy in Spanish America by Kimberly Gauderman

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.


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. * The Journal of Latin American Anthropology * Gauderman's book is a must-read for anyone interested in gender and the law.

* Law and History Review * Kimberly Gauderman has produced an informative, well-organized study on the lives of Spanish, mestiza, and indigenous women in seventeenth-century Quito. * Colonial Latin American Historical Review *

About the Author

Kimberly Gauderman is Assistant Professor of History at the University of New Mexico.

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Book Info

Publication date

1st December 2003


Kimberly Gauderman

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University of Texas Press


195 pages


History of the Americas
Early modern history: c 1450/1500 to c 1700



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