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Gender, State, and Medicine in Highland Ecuador

Modernizing Women, Modernizing the State, 1895-1950

A. Kim Clark

Publication Year: 2012

In 1921 Matilde Hidalgo became the first woman physician to graduate from the Universidad Central in Quito, Ecuador. Hidalgo was also the first woman to vote in a national election and the first to hold public office. Author Kim Clark relates the stories of Matilde Hidalgo and other women who successfully challenged newly instituted Ecuadorian state programs in the wake of the Liberal Revolution of 1895. New laws, while they did not specifically outline women’s rights, left loopholes wherein women could contest entry into education systems and certain professions and vote in elections. As Clark demonstrates, many of those who seized these opportunities were unattached women who were socially and economically disenfranchised. Political and social changes during the liberal period drew new groups into the workforce. Women found novel opportunities to pursue professions where they did not compete directly with men. Training women for work meant expanding secular education systems and normal schools. Healthcare initiatives were also introduced that employed and targeted women to reduce infant mortality, eradicate venereal diseases, and regulate prostitution. Many of these state programs attempted to control women’s behavior under the guise of morality and honor. Yet highland Ecuadorian women used them to better their lives and to gain professional training, health care, employment, and political rights. As they engaged state programs and used them for their own purposes, these women became modernizers and agents of change, winning freedoms for themselves and future generations.

Published by: University of Pittsburgh Press

Series: Pitt Latin American Series

Cover, Title Page, Copyright

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p. vii

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pp. ix-xii

This book is more personal than any prior project. When I began to collect archival material for it almost two decades ago, I was working on a differently defined project; when I began to write this book, then too I thought I was writing a different...

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1. Gendered Experiences and State Formation in Highland Ecuador

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pp. 1-32

This book explores the experiences of Ecuadorian women as both objects and agents of state formation, examining state practices, women’s lives, and gender ideologies in the Ecuadorian highlands in the first half of the twentieth century. The subtitle...

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2. Gender, Class, and State in Child Protection Programs in Quito

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pp. 33-77

Child health and welfare is a classic terrain of gendered social policy.1 In chronological terms, this was the first arena in which Ecuadorian liberal governments at the turn of the twentieth century developed their capacity to inquire into the conditions...

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3. Governing Sexuality and Disease

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pp. 78-111

While Ecuadorian women’s actions as mothers were of interest and concern to state actors who intervened in child welfare issues, other intimate activities of women were seen to pose a different set of challenges and dangers for state and society. Just as having...

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4. Midwifery, Morality, and the State

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pp. 112-142

In 1929 university-trained midwife Consuelo Rueda Sáenz proposed to the director of the Servicio de Sanidad (Public Health Service) that an outreach program for maternal and infant medical care be established in the poor neighborhoods of Quito...

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5. The Transformation of Ecuadorian Nursing

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pp. 143-183

In 1942 the first cohort of Ecuadorian women enrolled in the newly established Escuela Nacional de Enfermeras (ENE, National Nurses School), a boarding school and training facility built adjacent to the Hospital Eugenio Espejo in Quito and operated...

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pp. 184-191

A central dimension of state formation is what historical sociologist Philip Corrigan has called “the materiality of moral regulation and the moralization of material reality.”1 Th is book explores both, examining some of the concrete ways that women’s moral...


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pp. 193-233


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pp. 235-245


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pp. 247-255

E-ISBN-13: 9780822978053
E-ISBN-10: 0822978059
Print-ISBN-13: 9780822962090
Print-ISBN-10: 0822962098

Page Count: 320
Publication Year: 2012

Series Title: Pitt Latin American Series
Series Editor Byline: John Charles Chasteen and Catherine M. Conaghan, Editors See more Books in this Series

OCLC Number: 808778755
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Gender, State, and Medicine in Highland Ecuador

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Subject Headings

  • Women -- Ecuador -- Social conditions -- 20th century.
  • Women -- Government policy -- Ecuador -- History -- 20th century.
  • Women's rights -- Ecuador -- History -- 20th century.
  • Women -- Medical care -- Ecuador -- History -- 20th century.
  • Medical education -- Ecuador -- History -- 20th century.
  • Public welfare -- Ecuador -- History -- 20th century.
  • Ecuador -- Social policy -- 20th century.
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