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date: 18 October 2017

Digital Resources: Gender and Latin American Independence

This is an advance summary of a forthcoming article in the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Latin American History. Please check back later for the full article.

The research project Women and Independence in Latin America seeks to investigate and understand women’s involvement in the struggles to achieve political independence in Spanish America and Brazil during the nineteenth century. The project is hosted at the University of Nottingham, in the Department of Spanish, Portuguese and Latin American Studies, and it was funded by the University of Nottingham and the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) between 2001 and 2014. The aim is to stimulate research and debate on the involvement of women in the Wars of Independence against Spain and in the conflicts with Portugal, and in the independence process more generally. This aspect of women’s history was much neglected but since the bicentenaries of independence in 2010 it has become a major topic of public debate and academic research.

The resource aims to provide a tool for historical research while also reaching out to encourage the exchange of ideas and information among a broader community and to make connections between the lives and aspirations of Latin American women in the nineteenth century and those of Latin American women today. The results of the project so far include numerous publications in academic presses and journals, several public events and collaborations with non-academic partners, and a bank of open online resources.

The most useful resource for historians is the online map-based searchable database and image bank (“Las Mujeres y la Independencia en América Latina”). The database includes information on the lives of more than 4,000 people (3,000 women) who were involved in the Wars of Independence in Spanish America and the conflicts in Brazil in the first half of the nineteenth century. The database is searchable by name, place, date, allegiance, gender, ethnicity, or event. The events include, for example, born, married, died, executed, fought, rewarded, imprisoned, and so on. A particularly interesting search category from the point of view of historians is connections. Connections includes groups of women who are related to each other in various ways, for example, prominent extended families, female relatives of men who were executed, women who donated property to the cause of their choice, women who hosted salons or “tertulias,” and women who were active in cultural societies and networks. The resource includes 340 images of men and women involved in the conflicts and a list of the historiographical and archival materials used in the compilation of the database. A simplified introductory version of the searchable database, Heroines and Heroes in Latin American Independence, is provided for use with school children and students.