From Colony to Nation


From Colony to Nation

Women Activists and the Gendering of Politics in Belize, 1912-1982

Anne S. Macpherson

Engendering Latin America Series

408 pages
14 photographs, 2 maps, 5 tables, index


April 2009


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eBook (PDF)
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July 2007


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About the Book

The first book on women’s political history in Belize, From Colony to Nation demonstrates that women were creators of and activists within the two principal political currents of twentieth-century Belize: colonial-middle class reform and popular labor-nationalism. As such, their alliances and struggles with colonial administrators, male reformers, and nationalists and with one another were central to the emergence of this improbable nation-state.
From Colony to Nation draws on extensive research and previously unmined sources such as almost one hundred interviews, colonial government records, the files of Belize’s first feminist organization, and court records. Anne S. Macpherson examines the tensions of the 1910s that led to the 1919 anticolonial riot; the reform project of the 1920s, in which Garveyite women were key state allies; the militant anticolonial labor movement of the 1930s; the more ambitious reform project of the 1940s; the successful but nonrevolutionary nationalist movement of the 1950s; and the gender dynamics of party politics and both Black Power and feminist challenges to the party system in the 1960s and 1970s.
From Colony to Nation connects to historiographies of racialized and gendered reform in colonial and other multiracial societies and of tensions between female activism and masculine authority within nationalist movements and postcolonial societies.

Author Bio

Anne S. Macpherson is an associate professor of history at the State University of New York at Brockport. She is a coeditor of Race and Nation in Modern Latin America.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
List of Maps
List of Tables
List of Abbreviations
Introduction: “Never a Coward Woman”
1. The Making of a Riot: Women, Wages, and War on the Home Front, 1912-1919
2. A Fragile Peace: Colonial Reform, Garveyism, and the Black Cross Nurses, 1920-1930
3. Hurricane from Below: Popular Protests, the Labourers and Unemployed Association, and the Women’s League, 1931-1941
4. Modernizing Colonialism: Development, Discipline, and Domestication, 1935-1954
5. A New Paterfamilias: The Creation and Control of Popular Nationalism, 1949-1961
6. Negotiating Nationalist Patriarchy: Party Politics, Radical Masculinity, and the Birth of Belizean Feminism, 1961–1982
Conclusion: Gender and History in the Making of Modern Belize


Winner of the Elsa Goveia Book Award, sponsored by the Association of Caribbean Historians.

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