Date of Award

5-13-2011

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program

Anthropology

First Advisor

Arthur Keene

Second Advisor

Jacqueline Urla

Third Advisor

Ann Ferguson

Subject Categories

Anthropology | Social and Cultural Anthropology

Abstract

The focus of my research has been the reverberations of the 2001 Argentine economic crisis, as they affected and were responded to by women in social movements. This dissertation contributes to studies of globalization by highlighting the unintended consequences of neoliberalism in Argentina in the form of the collective empowerment of women in egalitarian social movements. The negative consequences of neoliberalism are well known, but I found that these policies produced more than misery. They also helped to stimulate a new kind of politics —a set of autonomous movements aimed at democratizing society as well as the state. In response to rapidly deteriorating living conditions, contemporary Argentine social movements organized their constituencies in what I have defined as the field of politics by other means. In the context of failed governmental programs and discourse designed to create docile, mobile subjects (governmentality), egalitarian social movements engaged in the creation of social movements whose democratic structures contrasted with the dispossessing nature of the neoliberal global power they confronted. In Argentina, this new political culture and methodology fostered, through street theater and pageants, 'other means' of making politics, including a concern for internal gender democracy in what has been called the “solidarity economy.” My research suggests that struggles against gender inequities have a synergistic relationship to democratic political structures. I found that receptivity to feminist discourses and opportunities for women’s participation were greater in antihierarchical opposition movements than in those with a more traditional leftist orientation. In these autonomous movements, women were able to challenge gender inequities, democratizing both the movements and their family relationships. Their struggle for democracy and freedom contrasts with the role of neoliberal policies and practices responsible for the weakening of democratic institutions in Argentina. In this way, my research not only broadens understanding of Argentina’s crisis and recovery, but it raises questions about the implications of the present worldwide economic and social crisis on struggles to transform gender relations.

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