Campus / News / February 23, 2011

Kampwirth edits new book

Political science professor and chair of the Latin American Studies Program Karen Kampwirth has released her fourth book, “Gender and Populism in Latin America.”

The book features 10 essays, all but one being published for the first time. The authors of the essays bring a wide range of knowledge of each of the eight countries covered. Kampwirth served as the book’s editor.

The book, covering a different topic than her previous books, discusses the way the New Left movements in Latin America co-opted or rejected feminist movements during their populist campaigns.

“I have been interested in the way populist movements interact with the feminist groups,” Kampwirth said. “Women had a predominant role in the Argentinean movement.”

Their role in Nicaragua was just the opposite. President Arnoldo Alemán openly attacked non-governmental organizations that worked with the communities and feminist issues. This vast difference in the region is the basis of the book.

The topics cover a wide time span, from the 1930s in Mexico all the way to present day Venezuela.

The idea for the book started after the release of her essay “Arnoldo Alemán Takes on the NGOs: Antifeminism and the New Populism in Nicaragua” in 2003. Kurt Weyland, the writer of the foreword in the book, e-mailed Kampwirth shortly after the release and inspired her to compile this book. However, work didn’t start until 2005.

“The project sort of evolved out of another,” Kampwirth said.

When asked why she chose to edit the book and not write it herself ,she gave a few reasons.

“I toyed with the idea, but it would have been a different book,” Kampwirth said. “The writers have a lot of in-depth knowledge on their topics and I had no sabbatical time when writing this book.”

Another reason was the increasing difficulty in traveling due, in part, to her two children.

“I enjoy field work base of knowledge, so it would have taken a lot of traveling to cover the eight countries in this book,” Kampwirth said. “I have two small children now and they are less tolerant of being apart from me … [than] when it was just me and my husband, [Associate Professor of Political Science Duane Oldfield].”

The different writers in the book were selected in varying ways. Some were e-mailed out of the blue because of prior work Kampwirth had seen. Some were longtime friends.

“Working with an interesting crowd of people is fun,” Kampwirth said. “The group aesthetic is what sets it apart from an individually written book.”

Kampwirth has many projects in the works, including a look at the relationship between LGBT communities, feminist groups and Latin American governments as well as creating a new course on the Middle East.

Contributors to the book include Michael Conniff, Gioconda Espina, Sujatha Fernandes, Victoria González-Rivera, Karin Grammático, Jocelyn Olcott, Cathy A. Rakowski, Stéphanie Rousseau, Ximena Sosa-Buchholz, and Joel Wolfe.

John Williams

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