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Feminist thought in Latin America

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-ZA007-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved July 23, 2024, from

Article Summary

Any analysis of feminist thought in Latin America is burdened by the task of combatting the frequent assumption that feminism is an ideology imported from the USA or Europe. One could begin by arguing that in certain senses autocthonous feminist thought has existed in Latin America for centuries. The thought of Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, a seventeenth-century Mexican writer and nun, had certain qualities, themes and perspectives that can be called feminist. Her autobiographical essay, ‘Reply to Sor Filotea de la Cruz’, is a brilliant defence of a woman’s right to engage in intellectual pursuits and includes many feminist strategies and dimensions.

Among the Latin American feminists through the centuries, exemplary passages are easily found, such as the following from the Peruvian Flora Tristán, who said ‘Without liberation of woman, there will be no liberation of man’ (1843). Revisionist reappraisals of underappreciated women thinkers have grown more common. Venezuelan Teresa de la Parra’s important writings which have been re-examined as texts by women continue to be rescued from relative obscurity. Rosario Castellanos, Rigoberta Menchú and Domitila Barrios de Chungara count among those whose work has enjoyed increased critical attention. Concurrently, the voices of traditionally voiceless women are being heard through expanding oral history projects, such as those of domestic workers in Bogotá: ‘It is not enough to have rights. We must raise consciousness and organize ourselves to defend those rights’.

In recent years, particularly after the international year of the woman in 1975 and the decade of the woman sponsored by the United Nations from 1976 to 1985, women and men have continued to develop feminist philosophies appropriate for Latin American contexts.

Professional feminist philosophy has been practised in Latin America since the early part of the twentieth century. Perhaps surprisingly, a theoretically sophisticated feminist philosophy was practised in Uruguay at this time by male social philosopher, Carlos Vaz Ferreira (1871–1958). His work had significant impact on women’s rights in Latin America. Vaz Ferreira was a pioneer in feminist theory.

Citing this article:
Oliver, Amy A.. Feminist thought in Latin America, 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-ZA007-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2024 Routledge.

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