Saving private Ramírez: The patriarchal voice of republican motherhood in Mexico

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This essay examines the Ramírez family saga as an allegory for national suffering and sacrifice during the French Intervention (1862-67). According to myth and memory, the matriarch of this poverty-stricken indigenous family, Agustina Ramírez, lost her husband and twelve sons in battles against foreign invaders. Only one son survived. Nineteenth-century policy makers celebrated Agustina Ramírez as a heroic model of republican motherhood and awarded her a lifetime pension. Unfortunately, they were unable to locate her and she was supposedly buried in a pauper's grave in Mazatlán. This paper deals simultaneously with the gender and ethnic implications of Agustina Ramírez's story in the nineteenth century and the historian's search for documents to substantiate this myth-history. The story of Agustina Ramírez was first told, embellished and then retold primarily by men, but aimed strategically at Mexican women. Thus this essay argues that the patriarchal voice speaking for Agustina Ramírez actually contributed to the failure of republican motherhood in Mexico.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)35-49
Number of pages15
JournalGender and History
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 2006


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