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Conference Report Women Studies Conference in Puerto Rico Altagracia Ortiz On June 20,1989, women studies' scholars from Puerto Rico and the United States met at the University of Puerto Rico (UPR) to discuss issues of concern to Puerto Rican women on the island and in this country. The conference was sponsored by Antonio Lauria and Susana Cabanas of Intercambio, an academic exchange program between the City University of New York (CUNY) and UPR, and organized by Palmira RÃ-os of the Center for Immigrant and Population Studies of CUNY; and by Alice Colón and Margarita Mergal of the Centro de Estudio, Recursos, y Servicios a la Mujer (CERES) (Center for the Study, Resources, and Services to Women) of the Centro de Investigaciones Sociales (Center for Social Research) of UPR. The major focus of the conference was the different aspects of the work activities of Puerto Rican women today, but consideration was also given to the participation of women in the labor history of Puerto Rico and in the United States. Feminist scholars in Puerto Rico, Margarita Mergal noted in her keynote address, have begun to study women as an integral part of the historical processes that have affected the island in the 20th century. Some have studied women's role in the struggle for the suffrage and independence , in education and in the church; others have emphasized the relationship of women to population and migration programs. However, she believes that the most important research that has been done in recent decades has been the studies on women and work. Some of the topics that already have been investigated or which presently preoccupy scholars include women's contributions to the early trade-union movement; women's paid and unpaid work activities in and out of the home; the impact of industrialization on women's work; and the health of women in "toxic" worksites. Palmira RÃ-os, the CUNY keynote speaker, highlighted in her presentation the scholarly studies on Puerto Rican women workers that have emerged in the United States; she included among these the oral history projects of the Centro de Estudios Puertorriqueños (CEP) (Center for Puerto Rican Studies) of CUNY on Puerto Rican needleworkers in New York City, the research on working-class and professional women of Virginia Sánchez Korrol, and the work on the relationship between Puerto Rican female garment workers and the International Ladies' Garments Workers' Union of Altagracia Ortiz. RÃ-os also shared with the conference participants information about a symposium on Black women in the United States that she is helping to coordinate. ©1989 JOURNAL OF WOMEN'S HISTORY, VOL. 1 No. 2 (FALL)_________________________ 180 JOURNAL OF WOMEN'S HISTORY FALL One of the goals of this conference was to bring together scholars from various disciplines to formulate a research agenda that could lead to future collaborative efforts between UPR and CUNY women studies' investigators . There was, for example, interest in developing projects that would provide more ethnographic and analytical data on female workers in Puerto Rico in order for us to understand how the industrial division of labor and work processes have affected Puerto Rican women; how the spread of the feminization of work has impacted on the labor force there; how women have related as workers to the power structures on the island; and how they have coped with the health and stress problems they encounter in their jobs. The participants of the "Women, Work, and History Panel" proposed that an oral history task force be formed to initiate further discussions on the usage, application, and theoretical frameworks of this recent but valuable methodology in women labor studies. The members of this last panel all have been working on oral histories of Puerto Rican women, and the CUNY-UPR Women Studies Conference made it possible for us to share our experiences using this particular historical method. Yamila Azize, who has published several studies on the history of the participation of Puerto Rican women in the labor movement in Puerto Rico, has recently turned her attention to the history of women in the health field and in the tobacco industry. She is presently doing oral histories of elderly Puerto Rican...


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