Miracle workers: Gender and state mediation among textile and garment workers in Mexico's transition to industrial development
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In the 1930s, the Mexican federal government consolidated political control following the chaos of the revolution and developed strategies for industrial development and economic growth. In 1936, at the height of the Popular Front and amid unabashedly progressive declarations by Mexican President Lázaro Cárdenas, the Department of Labor ordered an investigation to insure the protection of women's and children's labor rights. The "new woman" in postrevolutionary Mexico would be both a conscientious mother (protected by her husband) and a productive wage laborer (protected by the paterfamilias of the federal government). Two years later, confronting political and economic realities within Mexico, the Cárdenas government all but abandoned this agenda, turning a blind eye to labor abuses as labor-intensive enterprises leaned on underpaid women workers to facilitate the transition to industrial production.
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Professor of History
Jocelyn Olcott is Professor of History; International Comparative Studies; and Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies at Duke University. Her first book, Revolutionary Women in Postrevolutionary Mexico, explores questions of gender and citizenship in the 1930s. Her second book, International Women’s Year: The Greatest Consciousness-Raising Event in History considers the history and legacies of the United Nation’s first world conference on women in 1975 in Mexico City (Ox