Partners in Conflict examines the importance of sexuality and gender to rural labor and agrarian politics during the last days of Chile’s latifundia system of traditional landed estates and throughout the governments of Eduardo Frei and Salvador Allende. Heidi Tinsman analyzes differences between men’s and women’s participation in Chile’s Agrarian Reform movement and considers how conflicts over gender and sexuality shape the contours of working-class struggles and national politics.
Tinsman restores women to a scholarly narrative that has been almost exclusively about men, recounting the centrality of women’s labor to the pre-Agrarian Reform world of the hacienda during the 1950s and recovering women’s critical roles in union struggles and land occupations during the Agrarian Reform itself. Providing a theoretical framework for understanding why the Agrarian Reform ultimately empowered men more than women, Tinsman argues that women were marginalized not because the Agrarian Reform ignored women but because, under both the Frei and Allende governments, it promoted the male-headed household as the cornerstone of a new society. Although this emphasis on gender cooperation stressed that men should have more respect for their wives and funneled unprecedented amounts of resources into women’s hands, the reform defined men as its protagonists and affirmed their authority over women.
This is the first monographic social history of Chile’s Agrarian Reform in either English or Spanish, and the first historical work to make sexuality and gender central to the analysis of the reforms.
Maps and Tables ix
1. Patron and Peon: Labor and Authority on the Great Estates 19
2. Binding Ties: Campesino Sexuality and Family Negotiations 55
3. Making Men: Labor Mobilization and Agrarian Reform 82
4. Promoting Gender Mutualism: Rural Education, Mothers’ Centers, and Family Planning 128
5. Struggling for Land: Worker Bosses and Campesina Militants 171
6. Revolutionizing Women: Popular Unity and Female Mobilization 209
7. Coming Apart: Struggle, Sex, and Social Crisis 247
Epilogue: 1973-1988 288
Selected Bibliography 347
“Partners in Conflict is a rich and complex narrative of social and political change, backed by deep research and theoretical insights into questions raised by feminist scholarship having to do with sexuality, gender, and patriarchy. It will become a landmark in women’s history, the history of peasants and rural society, and the history of labor in Latin America.”—Thomas Miller Klubock, author of Contested Communities: Class, Gender, and Politics in Chile’s El Teniente Copper Mine, 1904–1951
“Combining the highest achievements of social history with oral testimony, Partners in Conflict enjoys the objectivity of one and the subjectivity of the other. Tinsman’s book sets a new standard for clarity, argumentative force, and simple stories that will live with readers for a long time to come. This is not just a local study, it is a major contribution to understanding how sexual and gender relations contribute to social change and the creation of a new humanity.”—Temma Kaplan, author of Crazy for Democracy: Women in Grassroots Movements
“Pathbreaking in its use of gender analysis to illuminate agrarian reform and the Allende era, including women’s work, sexuality as a terrain of contest and the role of masculinity in rural social movements and politics. Tinsman opens up a new dimension.”—Peter Winn, Tufts University