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Before the Law: Women's Petitions in the Eighteenth-Century Spanish Empire

  • Bianca Premo (a1)

At first glance, there is nothing unusual about the fact that, in 1790, a woman went to a magistrate in Mexico City to request money from her husband while their divorce case was pending. Everything about the lawsuit seems ordinary, even down to the litigant's name, Doña María García. Decades of historical scholarship on gender have familiarized us with women just like her, women who tactically employed the courts of the Spanish empire in the larger “contest” that made up gender relations in the era. Histories of women veritably brim with female litigants who used the justice system to win small victories in their battles for autonomy from marital obligations or to rein in philandering, shiftless, or abusive lovers.

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Laura Lewis , Hall of Mirrors: Power, Witchcraft, and Caste in Colonial Mexico (Durham: Duke University Press, 2003), 910

Annelise Riles , ed., Documents: Artifacts of Modern Knowledge (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2006)

Bernard Lavallé , Amor y opresión en los Andes coloniales (Lima: Instituto de Estudios Peruanos, 1999)

Rogelio Pérez-Perdomo , Latin American Lawyers: A Historical Introduction (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2006), 3841

Diccionario de la lengua castellana, en que se explica el verdadero sentido de las voces… (Madrid: Impenta de Francisco del Hierro, 1737)

Richard Konetzke , Colleción de Documentos para la historia de la formación social de Hispanoamérica, 1493–1810, vol. 3, t. 1, no. 235 (Madrid: Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, 1964)

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Comparative Studies in Society and History
  • ISSN: 0010-4175
  • EISSN: 1475-2999
  • URL: /core/journals/comparative-studies-in-society-and-history
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