Nicaragua's Sandinista revolution (1979-1990) initiated a broad program of social transformation to improve the situation of the working class and poor, women, and other non-elite groups through agrarian reform, restructured urban employment, and wide access to health care, education, and social services. This book explores how Nicaragua's least powerful citizens have fared in the years since the Sandinista revolution, as neoliberal governments have rolled back these state-supported reforms and introduced measures to promote the development of a market-driven economy.
Drawing on ethnographic research conducted throughout the 1990s, Florence Babb describes the negative consequences that have followed the return to a capitalist path, especially for women and low-income citizens. In addition, she charts the growth of women's and other social movements (neighborhood, lesbian and gay, indigenous, youth, peace, and environmental) that have taken advantage of new openings for political mobilization. Her ethnographic portraits of a low-income barrio and of women's craft cooperatives powerfully link local, cultural responses to national and global processes.
Throughout the 1980s, Barricada, the official daily newspaper of the ruling Sandinista Front, played the standard role of a party organ, seeking the mobilize the Nicaraguan public to support the revolutionary agenda. Beyond the Barricades, however, reveals a story that is both more intriguing and much more complex. Even during this period of sweeping transformation and outside military siege, another, more professional agenda also motivated Barricada’s journalists and editors.
When the Sandinistas unexpectedly fell from power in the 1990 elections, Barricada gained a substantial degree of autonomy that allowed it to explore a more balanced and nuanced journalism “in the national interest.” This new orientation, however, ran afoul of more orthodox party leaders, who gradually gained the upper hand in the bitter internal struggle that wracked the Sandinista Front in the early 1990s. The paper closed its doors in January 1998.
Adam Jones’s outstanding study offers an unprecedented behin-the-scenes looks at Barricada’s two decades of evolution and dissolution. It also presents an intimate portrait of a key revolutionary institution and the memorable individuals who were a part of it.
In 1976, at age twenty-five, Stephen Kinzer arrived in Nicaragua as a freelance journalist—and became a witness to history. He returned many times during the years that followed, becoming Latin America correspondent for the Boston Globe in 1981 and joining the foreign staff of the New York Times in 1983. That year he opened the New York Times Managua bureau, making that newspaper the first daily in America to maintain a full-time office in Nicaragua.Widely considered the best-connected journalist in Central America, Kinzer personally met and interviewed people at every level of the Somoza, Sandinistas and contra hierarchies, as well as dissidents, heads of state, and countless ordinary citizens throughout the region.Blood of Brothers is Kinzer’s dramatic story of the centuries-old power struggle that burst into the headlines in 1979 with the overthrow of the Somoza dictatorship. It is a vibrant portrait of the Nicaraguan people and their volcanic land, a cultural history rich in poetry and bloodshed, baseball and insurrection.
Following the Sandinista Revolution in 1979, young bohemian artists rushed to the newly formed Nicaraguan national film institute INCINE to contribute to "the recovery of national identity" through the creation of a national film project. Over the next eleven years, the filmmakers of INCINE produced over seventy films—documentary, fiction, and hybrids—that collectively reveal a unique vision of the Revolution drawn not from official FSLN directives, but from the filmmakers' own cinematic interpretations of the Revolution as they were living it.
This book examines the INCINE film project and assesses its achievements in recovering a Nicaraguan national identity through the creation of a national cinema. Using a wealth of firsthand documentation—the films themselves, interviews with numerous INCINE personnel, and INCINE archival records—Jonathan Buchsbaum follows the evolution of INCINE's project and situates it within the larger historical project of militant, revolutionary filmmaking in Latin America. His research also raises crucial questions about the viability of national cinemas in the face of accelerating globalization and technological changes which reverberate far beyond Nicaragua's experiment in revolutionary filmmaking.
Gobat focuses primarily on the reactions of the elites to Americanization, because the power and identity of these Nicaraguans were the most significantly affected by U.S. imperial rule. He describes their adoption of aspects of “the American way of life” in the mid–nineteenth century as strategic rather than wholesale. Chronicling the U.S. occupation of 1912–33, he argues that the anti-American turn of Nicaragua’s most Americanized oligarchs stemmed largely from the efforts of U.S. bankers, marines, and missionaries to spread their own version of the American dream. In part, the oligarchs’ reversal reflected their anguish over the 1920s rise of Protestantism, the “modern woman,” and other “vices of modernity” emanating from the United States. But it also responded to the unintended ways that U.S. modernization efforts enabled peasants to weaken landlord power. Gobat demonstrates that the U.S. occupation so profoundly affected Nicaragua that it helped engender the Sandino Rebellion of 1927–33, the Somoza dictatorship of 1936–79, and the Sandinista Revolution of 1979–90.
Debra Sabia describes and analyzes the rise, growth, and fragmentation of the popular church and assesses the effect of the Christian base communities on religion, politics, and the nation's social revolutionary experiment.
Many scholars of Latin America have argued that the introduction of coffee forced most people to become landless proletarians toiling on large plantations. Cultivating Coffee tells a different story: small and medium-sized growers in Nicaragua were a vital part of the economy, constituting the majority of the farmers and holding most of the land.
Alongside these small commercial farmers was a group of subsistence farmers, created by the state’s commitment to supplying municipal lands to communities. These subsistence growers became the workforce for their coffee-growing neighbors, providing harvest labor three months a year. Mostly illiterate, perhaps largely indigenous, they nonetheless learned the functioning of the new political and economic systems and used them to acquire individual plots of land.
Julie Charlip’s Cultivating Coffee joins the growing scholarship on rural Latin America that demonstrates the complexity of the processes of transition to expanded export agriculture in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, emphasizing the agency of actors at all levels of society. It also sheds new light on the controversy surrounding landholding in Nicaragua during the Sandinista revolution.
“I went to Nicaragua with nothing but a tourist visa, $1,500 in cash, the name of someone at the Agrarian Reform Ministry, and the idea of being a revolutionary intellectual. . . . The idea took hold in a simple character flaw: wanting to believe that I knew better than everyone else.” —From the preface
When Michael Johns joined a Sandinista militia in 1983, a fellow revolutionary dubbed him a rábano, a radish: red on the outside but white on the inside. Now, more than twenty-five years later, Johns appreciates the wisdom of that label as he revisits the questions of identity he tried to resolve by working with the Sandinistas at that point in his life. In The Education of a Radical, Johns recounts his immersion in Marxism and the Nicaraguan sojourn it led to, with a painful maturation process along the way.
His conversion began in college, where he joined a student group called the Latin American Solidarity Association and traveled to Chiapas, Mexico, for research on his senior thesis. Overwhelmed by the poverty he witnessed (and fascinated by a new friend named Maricela who was trying to turn peasants into revolutionaries and who carried a heavily highlighted copy of Late Capitalism), he experienced an ideological transformation. When a Marxist professor later encouraged him to travel to Nicaragua, the real internal battle began for him, a battle that was intensified by the U.S. invasion of Grenada and its effect on the Sandinistas, who believed they were the next target for an imminent American invasion. Before he knew it, Johns was digging trenches and learning how to use an AK-47. His intellectual ideals came face-to-face with revolutionary facts, and the results would perplex him for years to come.
Bringing to life a vivid portrait of the sometimes painful process of reconciling reality with romanticized principles, The Education of a Radical encapsulates a trove of truths about humanity, economics, and politics in one man’s memorable journey.
The sudden discovery of Nicaraguan Sign Language (NSL) enthralled scholars worldwide who hoped to witness the evolution of a new language. But controversy erupted regarding the validity of NSL as a genuinely spontaneous language created by young children. Laura Polich’s fascinating book recounts her nine-year study of the Deaf community in Nicaragua and her findings about its formation and that of NSL in its wake.
Polich crafted The Emergence of the Deaf Community in Nicaragua from her copious research in Nicaragua’s National Archives, field observations of deaf pupils in 20 special education schools, polls of the teachers for deaf children about their education and knowledge of deafness, a survey of 225 deaf individuals about their backgrounds and living conditions, and interviews with the oldest members of the National Nicaraguan Association of the Deaf.
Polich found that the use of a “standardized” sign language in Nicaragua did not emerge until there was a community of users meeting on a regular basis, especially beyond childhood. The adoption of NSL did not happen suddenly, but took many years and was fed by multiple influences. She also discovered the process that deaf adolescents used to attain their social agency, which gained them recognition by the larger Nicaraguan hearing society. Her book illustrates tremendous changes during the past 60 years, and the truth in one deaf Nicaraguan’s declaration, “With sign language you can learn so much.”
Michel Gobat traces the untold story of the rise and fall of the first U.S. overseas empire to William Walker, a believer in the nation’s manifest destiny to spread its blessings not only westward but abroad as well.In the 1850s Walker and a small group of U.S. expansionists migrated to Nicaragua determined to forge a tropical “empire of liberty.” His quest to free Central American masses from allegedly despotic elites initially enjoyed strong local support from liberal Nicaraguans who hoped U.S.-style democracy and progress would spread across the land. As Walker’s group of “filibusters” proceeded to help Nicaraguans battle the ruling conservatives, their seizure of power electrified the U.S. public and attracted some 12,000 colonists, including moral reformers. But what began with promises of liberation devolved into a reign of terror. After two years, Walker was driven out.Nicaraguans’ initial embrace of Walker complicates assumptions about U.S. imperialism. Empire by Invitation refuses to place Walker among American slaveholders who sought to extend human bondage southward. Instead, Walker and his followers, most of whom were Northerners, must be understood as liberals and democracy promoters. Their ambition was to establish a democratic state by force. Much like their successors in liberal-internationalist and neoconservative foreign policy circles a century later in Washington, D.C., Walker and his fellow imperialists inspired a global anti-U.S. backlash. Fear of a “northern colossus” precipitated a hemispheric alliance against the United States and gave birth to the idea of Latin America.
When she was only nine, Dayani Baldelomar left her Nicaraguan village with nothing more than a change of clothes. She was among tens of thousands of rural migrants to Managua in the 1980s and 1990s. After years of homelessness, Dayani landed in a shantytown called The Widows, squeezed between a drainage ditch and putrid Lake Managua. Her neighbor, Yadira Castellón, also migrated from the mountains. Driven by hope for a better future for their children, Dayani, Yadira, and their husbands invent jobs in Managua’s spreading markets and dumps, joining the planet’s burgeoning informal economy. But a swelling tide of family crises and environmental calamities threaten to break their toehold in the city.
Dayani’s and Yadira’s struggles reveal one of the world’s biggest challenges: by 2050, almost one-third of all people will likely live in slums without basic services, vulnerable to disasters caused by the convergence of climate change and breakneck urbanization. To tell their stories, Douglas Haynes followed Dayani’s and Yadira’s families for five years, learning firsthand how their lives in the city are a tightrope walk between new opportunities and chronic insecurity. Every Day We Live Is the Future is a gripping, unforgettable account of two women’s herculean efforts to persevere and educate their children. It sounds a powerful call for understanding the growing risks to new urbanites, how to help them prosper, and why their lives matter for us all.
In many Latin American countries, guerrilla struggle and feminism have been linked in surprising ways. Women were mobilized by the thousands to promote revolutionary agendas that had little to do with increasing gender equality. They ended up creating a uniquely Latin American version of feminism that combined revolutionary goals of economic equality and social justice with typically feminist aims of equality, nonviolence, and reproductive rights.
Drawing on more than two hundred interviews with women in Nicaragua, El Salvador, and the Mexican state of Chiapas, Karen Kampwirth tells the story of how the guerrilla wars led to the rise of feminism, why certain women became feminists, and what sorts of feminist movements they built. Feminism and the Legacy of Revolution: Nicaragua, El Salvador, Chiapas explores how the violent politics of guerrilla struggle could be related to the peaceful politics of feminism. It considers the gains, losses, and internal conflicts within revolutionary women’s organizations.
Feminism and the Legacy of Revolution challenges old assumptions regarding revolutionary movements and the legacy of those movements for the politics of daily life. It will appeal to a broad, interdisciplinary audience in political science, sociology, anthropology, women’s studies, and Latin American studies as well as to general readers with an interest in international feminism.
Mendez draws on interviews with leaders and program participants, including maquiladora workers; her participant observation while she worked as a volunteer within the organization; and analysis of the public statements, speeches, and texts written by mec members. She provides a sense of the day-to-day operations of the group as well as its strategies. By exploring the tension between mec and transnational feminist, labor, and solidarity networks, she illustrates how mec women’s outlooks are shaped by both their revolutionary roots within the Sandinista regime and their exposure to global discourses of human rights and citizenship. The complexities of the women’s labor movement analyzed in From the Revolution to the Maquiladoras speak to social and economic justice movements in the many locales around the world.
In 1979, toward the end of the Cold War era, Nicaragua's Sandinista movement emerged on the world stage claiming to represent a new form of socialism. Gendered Scenarios of Revolution is a historical ethnography of Sandinista state formation from the perspective of El Tule-a peasant village that was itself thrust onto a national and international stage as a "model" Sandinista community. This book follows the villagers´ story as they joined the Sandinista movement, performed revolution before a world audience, and grappled with the lessons of this experience in the neoliberal aftermath.
Employing an approach that combines political economy and cultural analysis, Montoya argues that the Sandinistas collapsed gender contradictions into class ones, and that as the Contra War exacerbated political and economic crises in the country, the Sandinistas increasingly ruled by mandate as vanguard party instead of creating the participatory democracy that they professed to work toward. In El Tule this meant that even though the Sandinistas created new roles and possibilities for women and men, over time they upheld pre-revolutionary patriarchal social structures. Yet in showing how the revolution created opportunities for Tuleños to assert their agency and advance their interests, even against the Sandinistas´ own interests, this book offers a reinterpretation of the revolution´s supposed failure.
Examining this community’s experience in the Sandinista and post-Sandinista periods offers perspective on both processes of revolutionary transformation and their legacies in the neoliberal era. Gendered Scenarios of Revolution will engage graduate and undergraduate students and scholars in anthropology, sociology, history, and women’s and gender studies, and appeal to anyone interested in modern revolution and its aftermath.
In this critical study of the thought of Augusto Cesar Sandino and his followers, Donald C. Hodges has discovered a coherent ideological thread and political program, which he succeeds in tracing to Mexican and Spanish sources. Sandino's strong religious inclination in combination with his anarchosyndicalist political ideology established him as a religious seer and moral reformer as well as a political thinker and is the prototype of the curious blend of Marxism and Christianity of the late twentieth-century Nicaraguan government, the Frente Sandinista de Liberación Nacional.
Taking power in Nicaragua in 1979 as a revolutionary party, the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) was willing to put its fate in the hands of the Nicaraguan people twice, in 1984 and 1990. The party wrote a democratic constitution and then, remarkably, accepted the decision of the majority by relinquishing power upon its defeat in the 1990 election.
The Many Faces of Sandinista Democracy explores the conflicts involving different visions of political and economic democracy, as well as new radical thought on participatory democracy. The latter addresses the problems popular organizations encountered as they moved from subservience to the FSLN in the 1980s to the liberating but disorientating electoral defeat of 1990. Up until the moment of defeat, the Sandinistas saw themselves as the true vanguard of the Nicaraguan people, able to submit themselves to free elections, because they felt they truly represented the general will of the people.
Dr. Hoyt brings to an international audience for the first time a study of the ideas of several Nicaraguan thinkers. She examines the conflicts surrounding the development of ideas within the FSLN, as well as the strengths and weaknesses of its rare combination of democratic and vanguard principles.
In 1956 in a cafe in León, a group of literati gather, dedicated, among other things, to the rigorous reconstruction of the legend surrounding Darío—but also to conspire. There will be an attempt against dictator Somoza's life, and that little girl with the fan a half-century before will not be a disinterested party.
In Margarita, How Beautiful the Sea, Sergio Ramírez encompasses, in a complete metaphor of reality and legend, the entire history of his country. The narrative moves along paths fifty years apart, which inevitably converge. The story becomes a fascinating exercise on the power of memory, on the influence of the past, fictitious or not, in the finality of reality.
"Most anthropologists who have lived among other people . . . feel a periodic need to go back," writes Philip A. Dennis in the introduction to this book. "Fieldwork gives you a stake in the people themselves, a set of relationships that last the rest of your life . . . and when the time is right, it is important to go back."
Dennis first journeyed to Awastara, a village on the northeastern coast of Nicaragua, during 1978-1979 as a postdoctoral student. He had come to study a culture-bound syndrome in which young women are possessed by devils. In the process, he became fascinated by other aspects of Miskitu culture—turtle fishing, Miskitu Christianity, community development efforts—the whole pattern of Miskitu community life. He also formed deep friendships to carry into the future.
Twenty years later he was able to return and continue his ethnographic work. Utilizing ideas from recent interpretive anthropology and a vivid writing style, Dennis describes food habits, language, health practices, religious beliefs, and storytelling, inviting the reader to experience life in Awastara along with him. Building upon earlier work by Mary Helms, Bernard Nietschmann, Edmund Gordon, and Charles Hale, The Miskitu People of Awastara makes its own original contribution. It is the first full-length study of a coastal Miskitu community north of Puerto Cabezas, contrasting life before and after the war years of the 1980s. It will be a valuable addition to the literature on this indigenous group and should appeal to anthropologists and other social scientists, as well as all readers interested in peoples of the Caribbean coast.
Histories of revolutions often focus on military, political, or economic upheavals but sometimes neglect to connect these larger events to the daily lives of "ordinary" people. Yet the peoples' perception that "things are worse than before" can topple revolutionary governments, as shown by the recent defeat of the Sandinista regime in Nicaragua and the governments of Eastern Europe. Providing the kind of prosaic, revealing details that more formal histories have excluded, My Car in Managua offers an objective, often humorous description of the great difficulties and occasional pleasures of life in Nicaragua during the Sandinista revolution.
During a year's work (1985-1986) at the Instituto Centroamericano de Administración de Empresas (INCAE), Forrest Colburn purchased a dilapidated car—and with it an introduction to everyday life in Nicaragua. His discoveries of the length of time required to register the car (approximately six weeks), the impossibility of finding spare parts (except when U.S. dollars were applied to the search), and the fact that "anyone getting into a car in Managua can be charged a small fee [for car watching] by anyone else" all suggest the difficulties most Nicaraguans faced living in a devastated economy.
Drawing on experiences from visits throughout the revolutionary period (1979-1989), Colburn also sheds light on how the Revolution affected social customs and language, gender roles and family relationships, equality and authority, the availability of goods and services, the status of ethnic minorities, and governmental and other institutions. Illustrations by Nicaragua's celebrated political cartoonist Róger Sánchez Flores enliven the lucid text.
Dore seamlessly combines archival research, oral history, and an innovative theoretical approach that unites political economy with social history. She recovers the bygone voices of peons, planters, and local officials within documents such as labor contracts, court records, and official correspondence. She juxtaposes these historical perspectives with those of contemporary peasants, landowners, activists, and politicians who share memories passed down to the present. The reconceptualization of the coffee economy that Dore elaborates has far-reaching implications. The Sandinistas mistakenly believed, she contends, that Nicaraguan capitalism was mature and ripe for socialist revolution, and after their victory in 1979 that belief led them to alienate many peasants by ignoring their demands for land. Thus, the Sandinistas’ myths of modernity contributed to their downfall.
This volume of seven essays on the 1987 Nicaraguan constitution does not accept a priori the judgment that Latin American constitutions are as fragile as egg shells, easily broken and discarded if found to be inconvenient to the interests of the rulers. Rather, they are viewed as being central to understanding political life in contemporary Nicaragua.
The perspectives of the analysts and their conclusions are not consensual. They prohibit glib and facile general conclusions. Some find the constitution to be nothing more than a façade for arbitrary and capricious rule; others that the document reflects clear commitments to the democratic rule of law. Thus far the implementation of the constitution has resulted in the peaceful transition of power from the Sandinistas to the National Opposition Union.
Our Land Is Made of Courage and Glory: Nationalist Performance of Nicaragua and Guatemala adds to a growing and timely body of work on nationalist drama. Examining important twentieth-century plays that few people have written about in English, E. J. Westlake analyzes the phenomenon of nation as performance by focusing on the definition of a people, national metaphors, and the uses of national history.
Westlake discerns the common characteristics that constitute nationalist plays, a genre that seeks to legitimate the nature of a nation by defining its boundaries, race, language, citizens, and history. Particularly relevant in an era influenced by imperialism, migration, and globalization, the volume probes the concepts of nation and nationalism in the context of postcolonial literary and performance theory.
Our Land Is Made of Courage and Glory covers the political and theatrical history of Nicaragua and Guatemala. Westlake examines how the blending of races factors into nationalism with a look at the play El tren amarillo by Manuel Galich and uses Nobel laureate Miguel Ángel Asturias’s Soluna to show how nationalists appropriate Mayan culture to create a sense of the Guatemalan people and culture. She discusses the mapping of history as a linear progression in Alan Bolt’s Banana republic and as a cycle of patricide in Por los caminos van los campesinos by Pablo Cuadra. Westlake also suggests that Rolando Steiner’s La noche de Wiwilí, a play taken from an eyewitness account, acts as a site of official national memory, and she examines as well the canonizing of the folk ballet El Güegüence to further explore the notion of sites of memory versus lived memory.
Raising essential questions about the future of nationalism and nationalist performance, Our Land Is Made of Courage and Glory will be of interest to scholars and students in drama, Latin American theatre studies, political science, and history.
Drawing on testimonies from contra collaborators and ex-combatants, as well as pro-Sandinista peasants, this book presents a dynamic account of the growing divisions between peasants from the area of Quilalí who took up arms in defense of revolutionary programs and ideals such as land reform and equality and those who opposed the FSLN.
Peasants in Arms details the role of local elites in organizing the first anti-Sandinista uprising in 1980 and their subsequent rise to positions of field command in the contras. Lynn Horton explores the internal factors that led a majority of peasants to turn against the revolution and the ways in which the military draft, and family and community pressures reinforced conflict and undermined mid-decade FSLN policy shifts that attempted to win back peasant support.
Sandinista is the first English-language biography of Carlos Fonseca Amador, the legendary leader of the Sandinista National Liberation Front of Nicaragua (the FSLN) and the most important and influential figure of the post–1959 revolutionary generation in Latin America. Fonseca, killed in battle in 1976, was the undisputed intellectual and strategic leader of the FSLN. In a groundbreaking and fast-paced narrative that draws on a rich archive of previously unpublished Fonseca writings, Matilde Zimmermann sheds new light on central themes in his ideology as well as on internal disputes, ideological shifts, and personalities of the FSLN.The first researcher ever to be allowed access to Fonseca’s unpublished writings (collected by the Institute for the Study of Sandinism in the early 1980s and now in the hands of the Nicaraguan Army), Zimmermann also obtained personal interviews with Fonseca’s friends, family members, fellow combatants, and political enemies. Unlike previous scholars, Zimmermann sees the Cuban revolution as the crucial turning point in Fonseca’s political evolution. Furthermore, while others have argued that he rejected Marxism in favor of a more pragmatic nationalism, Zimmermann shows how Fonseca’s political writings remained committed to both socialist revolution and national liberation from U.S. imperialism and followed the ideas of both Che Guevara and the earlier Nicaraguan leader Augusto César Sandino. She further argues that his philosophy embracing the experiences of the nation’s workers and peasants was central to the FSLN’s initial platform and charismatic appeal.
Sandino's Daughters, Margaret Randall's conversations with Nicaraguan women in their struggle against the dictator Somoza in 1979, brought the lives of a group of extraordinary female revolutionaries to the American and world public. The book remains a landmark. Now, a decade later, Randall returns to interview many of the same women and others. In Sandino's Daughters Revisited, they speak of their lives during and since the Sandinista administration, the ways in which the revolution made them strong — and also held them back. Ironically, the 1990 defeat of the Sandinistas at the ballot box has given Sandinista women greater freedom to express their feelings and ideas.
Randall interviewed these outspoken women from all walks of life: working-class Diana Espinoza, head bookkeeper of a employee-owned factory; Daisy Zamora, a vice minister of culture under the Sandinistas; and Vidaluz Meneses, daughter of a Somozan official, who ties her revolutionary ideals to her Catholicism. The voices of these women, along with nine others, lead us to recognize both the failed promises and continuing attraction of the Sandinista movement for women. This is a moving account of the relationship between feminism and revolution as it is expressed in the daily lives of Nicaraguan women.
"A collection of varied and amazing lives, all bent on shaping history. Together, these experienced, undeterred Nicaraguan women offer powerful clues about a truly revolutionary and democratizing feminism."––Adrienne Rich
"If it were not for writers like Margaret, how would women around the world find each other when there is such an institutional effort to keep us apart and silent? Here Margaret brings us the voice of Sandino's daughters, honoring his hat and wearing their own, wiser now, having been part of political and personal revolution."––Holly Near
"Powerful, moving, and challenging. Everyone interested in decency and justice will want to read Sandino's Daughters Revisited."––Blanche Wiesen Cook
Sandino's Daughters, Margaret Randall's conversations with Nicaraguan women in their struggle against the dictator Somoza in 1979, brought the lives of a group of extraordinary female revolutionaries to the American and world public. The book remains a landmark. Now, a decade later, Randall returns to interview many of the same women and others. In Sandino's Daughters Revisited, they speak of their lives during and since the Sandinista administration, the ways in which the revolution made them strong––and also held them back. Ironically, the 1990 defeat of the Sandinistas at the ballot box has given Sandinista women greater freedom to express their feelings and ideas.
Global identity politics rest heavily on notions of ethnicity and authenticity, especially in contexts where indigenous identity becomes a basis for claims of social and economic justice. In contemporary Latin America there is a resurgence of indigenous claims for cultural and political autonomy and for the benefits of economic development. Yet these identities have often been taken for granted.
In this historical ethnography, Baron Pineda traces the history of the port town of Bilwi, now known officially as Puerto Cabezas, on the Atlantic coast of Nicaragua to explore the development, transformation, and function of racial categories in this region. From the English colonial period, through the Sandinista conflict of the 1980s, to the aftermath of the Contra War, Pineda shows how powerful outsiders, as well as Nicaraguans, have made efforts to influence notions about African and Black identity among the Miskito Indians, Afro-Nicaraguan Creoles, and Mestizos in the region. In the process, he provides insight into the causes and meaning of social movements and political turmoil. Shipwrecked Identities also includes important critical analysis of the role of anthropologists and other North American scholars in the Contra-Sandinista conflict, as well as the ways these scholars have defined ethnic identities in Latin America.
As the indigenous people of the Mosquito Coast continue to negotiate the effects of a long history of contested ethnic and racial identity, this book takes an important step in questioning the origins, legitimacy, and consequences of such claims.
Students played a critical role in the Sandinista struggle in Nicaragua, helping to topple the US-backed Somoza dictatorship in 1979—one of only two successful social revolutions in Cold War Latin America. Debunking misconceptions, Students of Revolution provides new evidence that groups of college and secondary-level students were instrumental in fostering a culture of insurrection—one in which societal groups, from elite housewives to rural laborers, came to see armed revolution as not only legitimate but necessary.
Drawing on student archives, state and university records, and oral histories, Claudia Rueda reveals the tactics by which young activists deployed their age, class, and gender to craft a heroic identity that justified their political participation and to help build cross-class movements that eventually paralyzed the country. Despite living under a dictatorship that sharply curtailed expression, these students gained status as future national leaders, helping to sanctify their right to protest and generating widespread outrage while they endured the regime’s repression. Students of Revolution thus highlights the aggressive young dissenters who became the vanguard of the opposition.
Even in the period following the electoral defeat of the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) in 1990, the revolution of 1979 continues to have a profound effect on the political economy of Nicaragua. Wright’s study, which is based on interviews with people from all walks of life—from government and party officials to academics and campesinos—as well as on the large volume of literature in both English and Spanish, focuses on the FSLN understanding of the relationships between the state, the party, and mass actors, and the nature of social classes. Wright considers the topics of agrarian reform, the development of mass organizations, the role of labor, and other aspects of the Nicaraguan political economy in order to assess their significance in theoretical as well as practical terms.
Through interviews with indigenous peoples and records of the elite discourse that suppressed the expression of cultural differences and rationalized the destruction of Indian communities, Gould tells a story of cultural loss. Land expropriation and coerced labor led to cultural alienation that shamed the indigenous population into shedding their language, religion, and dress. Beginning with the 1870s, Gould historicizes the forces that prompted a collective movement away from a strong identification with indigenous cultural heritage to an “acceptance” of a national mixed-race identity.
By recovering a significant part of Nicaraguan history that has been excised from the national memory, To Die in This Way critiques the enterprise of third world nation-building and thus marks an important step in the study of Latin American culture and history that will also interest anthropologists and students of social and cultural historians.
In Women's Activism and Feminist Agency in Mozambique and Nicaragua, Jennifer Leigh Disney investigates the contours of women’s emancipation outside the framework of liberal democracy and a market economy. She interviews 146 women and men in the two countries to explore the comparative contribution of women’s participation in subsistence and informal economies, political parties and civil society organizations. She also discusses military struggles against colonialism and imperialism in fostering feminist agency to provide a fascinating look at how each movement evolved and how it changed in a post-revolutionary climate.
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