The Book is rich with topics describing opportunities and challenges that shaped the lives of women in Latin America influenced by Spain and Portugal. Engagingly written by Socolow the book can be a very useful reference for teachers of Latin American Studies. The piece abounds with historical information covering effects of conquests, colonization, and settlement of colonial women. It looks into the various roles played by women stressing on their responsibilities and duties as well as their limitations.
It gives light as to how factors like race, social status, occupation and environment among others affect women in every circumstance. I would say the piece is one whole powerful presentation. Socolow being a member of the gender in discussion gives weight to the whole intellectual experience. The book might have a different feel if it was written by a man. Socolow made sure that she started her book with an attention grabbing Introduction. I think everyone who has read would agree that it is very effective.
It is very perceptive but not overly dramatic, it hands the reader all the needed information to the last detail but not to the point that it becomes dreary. The author can be likened to a professional cab driver – expertly maneuvering a vehicle full of passengers to an intended destination. Chapter One, Iberian Women in the Old World and the New is an interesting historical account of how key players in history changed women’s role across time.
Chapter Two, Before Columbus: Women in Indigenous America and Africa is an enlightening and at the same time intriguing description of history. Chapter Three, Conquest and Colonization documents the hardships and brutality experienced by women during war. All the other Chapters namely Women, Marriage, and Family, Elite Women, The Brides of Christ and Other Religious Women, Women and Work, Women and Slavery, Women and Social Deviance: Crime, Witchcraft, and Rebellion, Women and Enlightenment Reform bear the same keen observation and consistency of purpose.
The book seems just historical at first but it has more than just historical information. I would say it is a must read – for those who wants to understand how the role of women evolve from early Spanish conquest to what it is presently. The author use easy and simple language that her ideas just flow from page to page. All in all – Socolow’s ‘The Women of Colonial Latin America: New Approaches to the Americas’ is a rich book that surely gets its reader’s hooked.
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