This volume originated in a conference held at London University’s In-
stitute of Latin American Studies in June 1996. Our aim as organizers of the
conference was to review some of the theoretical and substantive issues
raised by the historical changes that have taken place in gender relations in
Latin America, so we chose to focus on states and households, and on the
diverse relationships between them. We hoped in this way to see how
gender relations were a√ected both by the broader societal processes tak-
ing place at the macrolevel and by the ways they interacted with processes
occurring at the microlevel within households in di√erent historical peri-
ods. The 1996 conference subsequently grew into a book, and with it the
scope of our inquiry broadened to include state-society relations and, in
particular, the gendered aspects of state formation.
Although work of historians and social theorists on state formation in Latin
America has provided a wealth of insights into the complex relationships
that exist between states and societies, less attention has been devoted to
the ways in which state formation is itself a gendered process. In consider-
ing this process, we felt that it was important to examine Latin American
state forms both comparatively and historically not only to trace the con-
tinuities over time but also to identify some moments in the transition
from one state form to another. It is evident that in the course of Latin
American history, states of markedly di√erent types and subtypes have
emerged—colonial, republican, liberal, corporatist-populist, and socialist
among them. Yet if these state forms can be seen as representing distinctive
political projects whose realization depended upon a specific matrix of
state-society relations and economic conditions, then what impact did they
have on and how did they respond to the gender order within which they
operated and which they sought to influence? This question of the gen-
dered as well as the social character of states has just begun to be explored
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