"Take off that streetwalker's dress": Concha Michel and the cultural politics of gender in postrevolutionary Mexico

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2009-09-01

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Abstract

Remembered as the constant companion of Mexican artists Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, the folksinger Concha Michel achieved notoriety for providing the soundtrack of Mexico's cultural Left. However, she also authored many works of poetry and prose that critiqued liberal, Marxist, and Catholic universalisms - all while maintaining a tireless pace as a teacher and activist. This article offers a methodological exploration of how Michel used personal anecdotes to fashion a universal cosmology and political philosophy grounded in gender complementarity and indigenous authenticity. © 2009 Journal of Women's History.

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Olcott

Jocelyn Olcott

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 (Oxford University Press, 2017).  Her current project, a biography of the activist and folksinger Concha Michel, a one-time Communist who became an icon of maternalist feminism and a vocal advocate for recognizing the economic importance of subsistence labors, is under contract with Duke University Press.  The book follows Michel's life story from the late nineteenth century to the late twentieth to examine the ways that the concept, labor, and policies surrounding “motherhood” articulated with major shifts in political-economic thought.  She has also embarked on an international, interdisciplinary project centered on rethinking the value of care labors broadly speaking, including not only dependent and household care but also, for example, environmental, community, cultural, and sexual care.


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