Creating Madres Campesinas: Revolutionary Motherhood and the Gendered Politics of Nation Building in 1950s Bolivia
Abstract

Abstract:

Addressing the nation’s high infant and maternal mortality rate became a paramount priority following the 1952 Bolivian National Revolution. High infant mortality jeopardized the literal reproduction of the nation, therefore motherhood had to be reformed, sanitized, and modernized to fit new revolutionary ideals. Reproduction and women’s bodies were consequently at the heart of the revolutionary project. Attempts to improve child welfare drew women out of their homes and into health clinics where employees oversaw their nutrition, hygiene, and childcare regimens. They also fostered female solidarity linked specifically to maternal responsibilities, thereby inventing a notion of revolutionary motherhood inextricably linked to revolutionary goals. This process of expanding and modernizing maternal and infant health services reveal the gendered politics of nation building under the National Revolutionary Movement whose program for political change, economic development, and cultural transformation depended on a healthy and productive populace.