Barrio Women - Between the Urban and the Feminist Movement (1)

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    Barrio Women: Between the Urban and the Feminist MovementAuthor(s): Lilia RodriguezSource: Latin American Perspectives, Vol. 21, No. 3, Social Movements and Political Change inLatin America: 2 (Summer, 1994), pp. 32-48Published by: Sage Publications, Inc.Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2633664.

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    BarrioWomenBetweenheUrban ndtheFeminist ovementbyLiliaRodriguez

    The importancef strugglesn thesphere f reproductionas beendebatednterms fwhetherheyre"able todevelop revolutionarylassconsciousness,hat s, to elaborate n alternativeocietalproject r be asubjectf ocietal ransformation"Assies, 990: 4).Accordingoorthodoxapproaches,ecauseorganizationsormed round ollective onsumptionareheterogeneousnclasscomposition'nddo not onfrontapital irectlythey ave ittle ossibilityfgiving ise o classconsciousnessrbringingabout mportantocial andpolitical hange.This argumentests n theassumptionhat hesocial position f subjectsn the productivepheremechanicallyeterminesheironsciousness.heorthodoxiewfocuses nproductiontrugglesndunderestimateshe esidence-basedoliticaltrug-gles in whichwomenhavehistoricallylayed n importantole.Rapidurbanizationithoutnfrastructurend ervices asresultedn strugglesorcollective onsumption,ndpoorwomen aveusually een tthe orefrontof such truggles;ackof services uch s water,ewers, lectricity,ealthcenters,hild arefacilities,ransport,nd oon, ffects omen ndmen ndifferentays.Other easons avebeen uggestedor onsideringtrugglesnthe epro-ductivephereess mportanthan hosenthe roductivene.Moser 1985:2) argues hat productionasedstrugglesre more uccessful ot onlybecause heyreproductionasedbut lsobecause heyremen's trugglesand s such revaluedbecausewhatmen o svalued)whereasonsumptionstrugglesntheprivatephere ecause hey re undertakenywomen reLiliaRodriguezs thedirectorf theEcuadorian enter fPromotionnd Action orWomen(CEPAM) inQuito ndan activistn theEcuadorian omen'smovement.he has a master'sdegree rom heLondon choolofEconomics,nd s currentlyirectingresearchroject nissues furbanoverty.hethankshe olandaWomen's enterCEMUS) formakingtpossiblefor er o earn hroughheirxperience,he nteruniversityenterfLatinAmerican esearchandDocumentationCEDLA) for he pportunityo reflectnherwork xperiencenEcuadorandpresentt o n nternationalorkshop,ndJoBeall andSylviaChantt the ondon choolofEconomics or akinghe ime oread nd ommentnher rticle nd ocorrecter nglish.LATIN AMERICAN PERSPECTIVES, Issue 82, Vol. 21 No. 3, Summer 1994 32-48C 1994 Latin AmericanPerspectives32

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    RodriguezBARRIOWOMEN 33

    invisibilizedsic]andhaveno value."Furthermore,residential-leveltrug-glemay lsobe inherentlyeaker han roductionasedstruggleecausethe onflictetween enderndclass smore penlymanifest."The dichotomyetweenroductionndreproduction,ublic ndprivateseemsnadequateo xplainwomen'snvolvementn trugglenurbanreas.Poorwomen ombine omestic asks nd economic ctivities. heyareresponsibleor hildbearing,hild are, nd food upplyndalso work obringncomesotheir ouseholds.nmany asestheresnoclear eparationbetween he pointofreproductionnd the point f production.opularwomen's rganizationsall nto uestionhe alse ichotomiesf heWesterntraditionnd contributeo a deeperunderstandingf the everyday-lifestruggleshat epresentmode fresistanceo engenderedormsfpower.Moreover,rban trugglend ocial hangemay e seen s centeredot nlyon class relationshipsut lsoonotherontractionselated ogender,ace,ethnicity,ationality,ndreligion. he notion fpluriclassisms charac-teristicf social movementsastsdoubt n overdeterminationyclassandpointsoother actorsn he eterminationf onsciousnessCastells, 983).Feministheorynparticularas riticizedhe istinctionetweenrimaryand econdaryontradictions,he rimacyf he lass truggle,he eparationofproductionndreproductions autonomouspheres,ndthe ssignmentofmoremportanceoproductivehan oreproductiveork. naddition,thasreconceptualizedower. he logan Thepersonalspolitical"mbodiesa profoundritiquef raditionalonceptsssociated ithhe ublic omain.Bystressinghat ower elationsermeatell aspects f ife, eminismascontributedothe xpansionfthe ettingsnwhich oliticsakes laceandbroadenedhe oncept fthe olitical.

    NEW SOCIAL MOVEMENTSAND WOMEN'S PARTICIPATIONAlthoughheres consensushatwomen lay n mportantole nneigh-borhoodmobilizationCastells, 983),women's articipations still ver-looked n most tudies f social movements.henewactor hat mergesseemssexless. t is insufficientimply o be awareofwomen's ole; t snecessaryospell ut he ontributionfwomen otmerelyodomesticifebut lso tocollectivendpolitical ctionJelin, 990).Theemergencefgrass-rootsomen's rganizationsn LatinAmericas linked o ssuesofhuman ights,emocracy,itizenship,iving onditions,rovisionfurbanservices,ndso on,but boveallpoorwomen,hroughheirrganizations,aregaining xperiencen constructingollectivedentitiesndchanging

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    34 LATINAMERICANPERSPECTIVES

    everydayower elationsndbroad oliticsnthat hey uestion ower othwithinhehouseholdndoutsidet.Barriowomen's articipationn urban trugglesas beenexplainedntermsf heir oles swives ndmothers. omenn ow-incomerbanreasperformtripleole: eproductive,roductive,nd ommunity-management(Moser,1989).Theyusually ecome nvolvednurban trugglesot ustbecausethey pend hemost ime n the neighborhoodutbecausetheirgender-ascriptiveolemakes hem esponsibleor rovidingor heir ami-lies.Gender ifferencesre crucialnunderstandinghy ndhowwomenandmen rganizendparticipatenurban truggle.2omenndmen erformdifferentoles, avedistincteeds, ocialresponsibilities,xpectations,ndpower,ndaresocializedn differentays.Genders a socialconstructionexplains he ocialrelationsetweenmen nd women,which redialecticandvarywith lass, ace, ulture,ge,religion,nd o on, nd t lso explainstheir ifferentialarticipationKaufman,991).As Morgen 1988: 111) argues,however,Women'sinvolvementncommunityrganizingannot eexplainedyorreducedo their oles ndresponsibilitiesswives,mothers,rdaughters. omen'sommunity-basedpoliticalctivisms a consciousnd ollective ayof xpressingnd ctingon theirnterestsswomen,swives ndmothers,s membersfneighbor-hoods nd ommunities,nd smembersfparticularace, thnic,nd lassgroups."n otherwords,t seems mportanto link hesevarious olesofwomenwithocial, conomic,olitical,nd ulturalactorsnunderstandingwomen'sparticipation.arriowomen reengaged nmobilizationt thecommunityevel hatonfrontslass ndgenderontradictionsnd mbodiesdifferentdentitiesndneeds. lassandgenderhus onvergendoverlapnwomen'sives.Additionally,arriowomen'sparticipationas to be understoods aprocessn which ractical endernterestsfood,helter,ater, ealthare,and so on) and strategicendernterestsredefinitionfgender elations)mayconvergeMolyneux, 985).Practicalndstrategicendernterestshavebeentranslatedntoplanningermss needed Moser,1989: 1803).Implicitn this pproachs thedifferentiationetweenwomen's racticalneeds,which einforcehe exualdivisionf abor,nd heirtrategiceeds,whichmust e identifiedo overcomeheirubordination.arriowomen'sparticipationsaffectingenderelationsndreconceptualizingenderden-tity. hischallengeshe rameworknwhich heir articipations analyzedand alls nto uestionhe heoreticalivisionetweenracticalnd trategicgender eeds Lind,1992:148;Rodriguez,993:36).Examiningarriowomen's articipationnneighborhoodrganizationsis importantor woreasons. irst,t s importantounderstandhenature,

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    RodrfguezBARRIOWOMEN 35

    content,orms,