’s new biography, Beatriz Allende: A Revolutionary Life in Cold War Latin America
(University of North Carolina Press, 2020), explores how a young Chilean woman pursued her political commitments and navigated patriarchal strictures as a militant leftist. The daughter of Salvador Allende, Beatriz Allende was born in 1942 and came of age in a tumultuous period of Chilean history. As a young woman, she participated in youth and party politics in Chile but was also deeply connected to continental revolutionary struggles, particularly in Cuba. Though her politics diverged from her father’s, she was also a key adviser for Allende. After going into exile following the 1973 coup that brought down Allende’s government, Beatriz Allende built solidarity networks from Cuba, where she also was raising two children. Beatriz Allende took her own life in 1977.
Harmer’s book traces how Beatriz’s political consciousness changed over time, paying particular attention to the ways in which gendered expectations of her shaped the nature of her militancy. In this conversation, Harmer also discusses the key, exclusive sources she used to write this biography. Beatriz Allende’s life reveals underexplored dimensions of Latin American political movements, especially those on the left, connecting that history to the themes of youth culture, gender, and everyday life in Cold War Latin America.
Rachel Grace Newman is Lecturer in the History of the Global South at Smith College. She has a Ph.D. in History from Columbia University, and she writes about youth, higher education, transnationalism, and social class in twentieth-century Mexico. She is also the author of a book on a binational program for Mexican migrant children. She is on Twitter @rachelgnew.