Working Women into the Borderlands
Borderlands Studies - Labor History - Women's Studies - Latin American Studies - History
6 x 9, 256 pp.
5 b&w photos. Map. Bib. Index.
Pub Date: 02/18/2014
Connecting the Greater West Series
  unjacketed cloth
Price:        $45.00 x

978-1-62349-040-9
  paper
Price:        $22.95 s

978-1-62349-041-6
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2014 Jim Parish Book Award for Documentation of Local and Regional History, sponsored by the Webb County Heritage Foundation
2014 Sara A. Whaley Book Prize, sponsored by the National Women's Studies Association
2015 Liz Carpenter Award, sponsored by Texas State Historical Association

Working Women into the Borderlands

By Sonia Hernández

In Working Women into the Borderlands, author Sonia Hernández sheds light on how women’s labor was shaped by US capital in the northeast region of Mexico and how women’s labor activism simultaneously shaped the nature of foreign investment and relations between Mexicans and Americans. As capital investments fueled the growth of heavy industries in cities and ports such as Monterrey and Tampico, women’s work complemented and strengthened their male counterparts’ labor in industries which were historically male-dominated.

As Hernández reveals, women laborers were expected to maintain their “proper” place in society, and work environments were in fact gendered and class-based. Yet, these prescribed notions of class and gender were frequently challenged as women sought to improve their livelihoods by using everyday forms of negotiation including collective organizing, labor arbitration boards, letter writing, creating unions, assuming positions of confianza (“trustworthiness”), and by migrating to urban centers and/or crossing into Texas.

Drawing extensively on bi-national archival sources, newspapers, and published records, Working Women into the Borderlands demonstrates convincingly how women’s labor contributions shaped the development of one of the most dynamic and contentious borderlands in the globe.

SONIA HERNÁNDEZ is an associate professor of history at Texas A&M Unversity, College Station. Her recent publications include a contributed chapter for War along the Border.

What Readers Are Saying:

"Sonia Hernández’ extraordinary book makes an important contribution to the expanding field of the U.S.-Mexican borderland. Based on a wide range of sources, it is the first comprehensive study on the Mexican northeast and South Texas, from San Antonio in the north to Tampico in the south, a region that has not received much attention from borderland historians.  Focusing on the impact of “modernization” on class, race and gender, Hernández provides important insight into the changing world of labor on both sides of the international boundary, especially women workers who toiled in factories, sweatshops, and large estates.  In doing this, Hernández presents a deep understanding of the norteño borderlands, labor, and women history. Working Women into the Borderlands is essential reading for anyone seeking to understand the early stages of U.S.-Mexican economic integration and the role of labor."--Juan Mora-Torres, author, The Making of the Mexican Border: The State, Capitalism and Society in Nuevo León, 1848-1910.

"A passionate and careful exploration of the role of women's labor in the making of the Mexican Northeast. This work belongs on the bookshelves of all who care about the region's past." --Dr. Benjamin Johnson, University of Wisconsin-Milwaulkee

"Working Women into the Borderlands is an excellent contribution to women's studies and labor as well as borderlands history. As the first book in the Connecting the Greater West series edited by Sterling Evans it acts as an excellent introduction to this endeavor. This work is well written, supported by strong research, and comes highly recommended."—Panhandle Plains Historical Review

“Sonia Hernández’s thoroughly researched Working Women into the Borderlands manages to stand out in this increasingly crowded field. Hernández shows great sensitivity to cultural issues and also to the discourse and rhetoric of protest. Working Women is notable for the seriousness and respect with which it engages the work of Mexican historians. The book has one of the most balanced, binational bibliographies I have seen in a work on the borderlands.”—The Journal of American History

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