U.S. Internationalists and Revolutionary Mexico
University of Pennsylvania Press 2014
New Books in American StudiesNew Books in Gender StudiesNew Books in HistoryNew Books in Latin American StudiesNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books Network July 21, 2015 Lilian Calles Barger
Megan Threlkeld is an associate professor of history at Denison University. Her book Pan-American Women: U.S. Internationalists and Revolutionary Mexico (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2014) provides a rich transnational examination of the years following World War I and American women activists who saw themselves global leaders in promoting women’s rights and international peace. U.S. internationalists such as Jane Addams, Carrie Chapman Catt, and Doris Stevens sought to build friendships with Mexican women, including educator Margarita Robles de Mendoza and feminist Elena Torres. They established new organizations, sponsored conferences and rallied for peaceful relations between the two countries at a time of tense or broken diplomatic ties. The efforts at an apolitical “human internationalism” were complicated by differences in ideologies, and cross-cultural misunderstanding that took for granted that Mexican women wanted the same political rights as U.S. women. To U.S. women, Mexican nationalism appeared as an obstacle while the revolutionary spirit of Mexico inspired its female citizens to focused on wide-ranging social reform and international economic justice. Despite failures internationalism endured through women’s political involvement in the Peace with Mexico campaign, and the establishment of the Inter-American Commission on Women. Pan American Women exposes the ideological and racist views that brought failure to building an inter-American movement for peace and equality and illuminates the role of U.S. feminism and women’s activism in forwarding imperialism abroad.