Partners in Conflict

The Politics of Gender, Sexuality, and Labor in the Chilean Agrarian Reform, 1950–1973

Partners in Conflict

Next Wave: New Directions in Women's Studies

More about this series

Book Pages: 392 Illustrations: 25 b&w photos, 22 tables, 2 maps, 6 figures Published: June 2002

Author: Heidi Tinsman

Gender and Sexuality > Feminism and Women’s Studies, History > Latin American History, Latin American Studies > Southern Cone

Partners in Conflict examines the importance of sexuality and gender to rural labor and agrarian politics during the last days of Chile’s latifundia system of traditional landed estates and throughout the governments of Eduardo Frei and Salvador Allende. Heidi Tinsman analyzes differences between men’s and women’s participation in Chile’s Agrarian Reform movement and considers how conflicts over gender and sexuality shape the contours of working-class struggles and national politics.
Tinsman restores women to a scholarly narrative that has been almost exclusively about men, recounting the centrality of women’s labor to the pre-Agrarian Reform world of the hacienda during the 1950s and recovering women’s critical roles in union struggles and land occupations during the Agrarian Reform itself. Providing a theoretical framework for understanding why the Agrarian Reform ultimately empowered men more than women, Tinsman argues that women were marginalized not because the Agrarian Reform ignored women but because, under both the Frei and Allende governments, it promoted the male-headed household as the cornerstone of a new society. Although this emphasis on gender cooperation stressed that men should have more respect for their wives and funneled unprecedented amounts of resources into women’s hands, the reform defined men as its protagonists and affirmed their authority over women.
This is the first monographic social history of Chile’s Agrarian Reform in either English or Spanish, and the first historical work to make sexuality and gender central to the analysis of the reforms.


"Partners in Conflict is a first-rate work on political and social change and the political role of gender in Chile’s contemporary history. It is clearly written and well researched and adds an important dimension to the growing literature on Chile with a focus on feminism. The book is well suited for basic courses in Chilean history and undergraduate courses in women’s history." — John P. Soder Jr. , History: Reviews of New Books

"[E]xhilarating. . . . [T]he book presents the reader with an evocative image of the rural life in Chilean peasants. . . . This is a rich study that draws on extensive research, including eighty interviews with peasant women and men. It greatly enriches our understanding of the politics of peasant life in Chile and highlights the important methodological and theoretical contributions made by oral history and gender studies to historiography." — Margaret Power , Social History

"[M]agnificent. . . . Tinsman makes a major contribution to our understanding of Agrarian Reform by exploring how politics, labor, land tenure, and sexuality are inextricably linked to gender. . . . This beautifully written and eloquently argued book will become a classic in Chilean agrarian history, for it breaks new ground in the fields of gender and labor studies. Each chapter is a gem, which can stand alone and be used in the classroom. . . ." — Heather Folwer-Salamini, The Americas

"[M]asterful. . . . Partners in Conflict offers readers a compelling treatment of social and political change in Aconcagua during Chile's most ambitious, rapid, and contentious experiment in social uplift. . . . This work is not only an important contribution to the project of Chilean gender history, but also one that promises to transform the way both U.S. and Chilean scholars understand the agrarian reform. As a compelling and highly-readable text, moreover, the book belongs not only in courses on women's and gender history, but also those addressing labor relations, political movements, and revolution in modern Latin America." — Elizabeth Quay Hutchison , Labor History

"[P]enetrating. . . . This book combines the classical strengths of empiricism with a passionate engagement of feminist theory. . . . [N]uanced. . . ." — Cliff Welch, American Historical Review

"Effective use of archival materials and oral histories is a great strength of this book. . . . [A] highly readable account. . . . Tinsman creatively tells an untold story. . . ." — Brian Loveman, Hispanic American Historical Review

"This fabulous book offers nuanced, thorough, and incisive analysis of the gender politics of Chile's agrarian reform, one of the most extensive in the world in terms of its redistribution of land. . . . [E]xhaustive in its research, clear and careful in its arguments, and full of fascinating anecdotes and examples." — Karin Alejandra Rosemblatt , Journal of Social History

"Tinsman has produced an important text that will affect future scholarship not only in Chile, but also among all who examine the true intentions and effects of well known but little understood government-sponsored social programs." — Eugene C. Berger, The Latin Americanist

"Tinsman is most persuasive when able to draw effectively on her wealth of oral histories; these sources open up new ground for the study of peasant women and peasant families." — J. Pablo Silva, Journal of Interdisciplinary History

"Tinsman raises the bar very high on the interpretive role of gender ideology. . . . [An] example to which future labor history must aspire, since the day is long gone when any history can blithely forget one-half of the population and still assume that the whole story has been told." — Teresa A Meade , Journal of Women's History

"Tinsman skillfully weaves the story of agrarian reform with an analysis of changing relations between rural women and men in Chile’s Aconcagua Valley. . . .By placing sexuality at the center of her work, Tinsman reveals how land reform and rural mobalization came to hold vastly different meanings for men and women. . . . [For] general and academic collections. . . ." — E. Q. Hutchison , Choice

"Tinsman's pioneering study recasts our understanding of the dilemmas of the Agrarian Reform in Chile. Through skillful use of oral histories and records of domestic conflict, she shows that men's and women's views of the Agrarian Reform were as much shaped by its unequal effects on their personal, family lives as on their occupational status and public roles. Her book demonstrates the inextricable links between the private and public spheres and the centrality of sexuality for understanding the process and effects of revolutionary projects." — Susan K. Besse , Industrial and Labor Relations Review

Partners in Conflict is a rich and complex narrative of social and political change, backed by deep research and theoretical insights into questions raised by feminist scholarship having to do with sexuality, gender, and patriarchy. It will become a landmark in women’s history, the history of peasants and rural society, and the history of labor in Latin America.” — Thomas Miller Klubock, author of Contested Communities: Class, Gender, and Politics in Chile’s El Teniente Copper Mine, 1904–1951

“Combining the highest achievements of social history with oral testimony, Partners in Conflict enjoys the objectivity of one and the subjectivity of the other. Tinsman’s book sets a new standard for clarity, argumentative force, and simple stories that will live with readers for a long time to come. This is not just a local study, it is a major contribution to understanding how sexual and gender relations contribute to social change and the creation of a new humanity.” — Temma Kaplan, author of Crazy for Democracy: Women in Grassroots Movements

“Pathbreaking in its use of gender analysis to illuminate agrarian reform and the Allende era, including women’s work, sexuality as a terrain of contest and the role of masculinity in rural social movements and politics. Tinsman opens up a new dimension.”—Peter Winn, Tufts University — N/A


Availability: In stock
Price: $29.95

Open Access

Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Heidi Tinsman is Assistant Professor of History at the University of California, Irvine.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Maps and Tables ix

Preface xi

Acknowledgments xv

Abbreviations xix

Introduction 1

1. Patron and Peon: Labor and Authority on the Great Estates 19

2. Binding Ties: Campesino Sexuality and Family Negotiations 55

3. Making Men: Labor Mobilization and Agrarian Reform 82

4. Promoting Gender Mutualism: Rural Education, Mothers’ Centers, and Family Planning 128

5. Struggling for Land: Worker Bosses and Campesina Militants 171

6. Revolutionizing Women: Popular Unity and Female Mobilization 209

7. Coming Apart: Struggle, Sex, and Social Crisis 247

Epilogue: 1973-1988 288

Notes 297

Selected Bibliography 347

Index 361
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

Rights and licensing
Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-2922-0 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-2907-7
Publicity material