Berks Panels of Interest, Part I

Over the next several weeks, we will be highlighting additional panels of interest at the upcoming Seventeenth Berkshire Conference on the History of Women, Genders, and Sexualities to be held June 1-4, 2017, at Hostra University in Hempstead, New York, USA.  While these panels do not necessarily bill themselves as being about rural women, all of those we’ve chosen to highlight will examine issues of rurality in significant ways.

Berks Panels of Interest, Part I

s1455 – Gendering Urban and Rural Spaces in Twentieth-Century Africa and Latin America

Friday, June 2, 2017: 8:30 AM-10:00 AM

Plaza room 3 (Hofstra University)

Chair:

Rachel Jean-Baptiste, University of California, Davis

Going to the Movies, Constructing Race and Gender in 1920s Brazil
Lena Oak Suk, University of Louisiana, Lafayette

The Ideal Citizen? The State, Rural Women and Nation-Building in 1960s and 1970s Tanzania
Husseina Dinani, University of Toronto, Scarborough

Talking about Sex: Urbanity, Morality, and Sex Education Debates in 1920s and 1930s Mexico
Melanie Huska, Tulane University

Comment:

Rachel Jean-Baptiste, University of California, Davis

Session Abstract

This panel explores competing visions of gendered spaces in Africa and Latin America. In periods of political and social change, from post-revolutionary Mexico to post-colonial Tanzania, state authorities and popular media imagined how women might contribute to shifting urban and rural landscapes. How did official and popular discourses express notions of citizenship, progress, and morality through visions of the urban and the rural, and what role would women play in constructing these spaces? In Brazil, Mexico, and Tanzania, political and moral authorities both idealized and demonized images of urban and rural women, and attempted to circumscribe their behavior through censorship, education, and residential resettlement. Yet, women affected their own natural and built environments through social practices and self-representations. While drawing from feminist geographies that analyze space and gender as mutually constitutive, this panel provides a novel approach by examining both rural and urban spaces in comparative context. Lena Suk highlights how images of urban space affected the racial representation of movie-going women in early twentieth-century Brazil. Melanie Huska addresses intersections of gender, morality and urbanity in the post-revolutionary Mexican government’s attempts to introduce sex education. Husseina Dinani examines the role of gender and rural space in post-colonial Tanzania in the 1960s and 1970s, illuminating both the state’s constructions of citizenship and women’s engagement in various nation-building projects. Together, a central question we pose is how notions of “urban” and “rural” were gendered and how the women who occupied these spaces also shaped them.