De héroes y heroínas: Cortés y Pizarro frente a las heroicas mujeres de la Colonia y la lucha de la Independencia
Hajjar, Diana Marcela
To speak of heroes is to speak of figures possessed with particular talents, figures of an audacious nature framed by glory. There are countless examples of such characters in the narrative of the Conquest of America and the Colonial Period. From these conquering and expansionist exploits, many names, such as Cortés and Pizarro, are etched in history. However, the Spanish conquest, and all that accompanied it, was not a project exclusively carried out thanks to the cunning and heroic mission of fearless men; we may add to that the work of other courageous agents: women.For centuries women were largely excluded from the public and political spheres, ignored and confined to convents and to their homes, invisible, barred from any participation in society outside the home. That invisibility, lack of social mobility and cultural gender asymmetry to which they were subjected had been considered as a part of their natural condition and position to maintain the peace and natural order of things. Despite their heroic, bold and intrepid spirit, women who did enter the public sphere were seen as an unusual phenomenon due to the diversity of their roles and for being participants in social or armed movements. As such, they were usually silenced, condemned and excluded from their own history.While surveying this history, several women emerged who, because of their autonomous actions, challenged the barriers of gender. Among them we find nuns, warriors, spies, activists, and key sources of financing who, although they stood out, did not gain greater recognition and passed, inadvertently, as appendages of the masculine world. We encounter women who breach the boundaries of gender by being disguised as men, rejecting outward feminine attributes, or acting and speaking like men while maintaining many feminine norms, inducing suspicion or even hostility in men and society in general due to their perceived challenge to accepted gender norms.For too long, the historical narrative ignored women. At times, historians were not even able to see or perceive them. Hence, although names such as Cortés and Pizarro represent the archetype of the Spanish conquering hero, it is a timely and worthwhile endeavor recognize the merits of these women’s exploits, thereby elevating their condition and calling them heroes. Certainly, these men, like many others, played a decisive role in history; however, it is fitting to consider parallel figures who, at different times, undertook similar or even more courageous feats but remained anonymous by being of the opposite sex or having a subordinate position.This dissertation proposes to review the actions of four heroic women, trace their lives, their voices and their challenges. This research tells their story.
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