Mainly limited to a male gaze, the history of the Rubber Boom in Bolivian Amazonia (1870-1920) seems to be somewhat biased. The sources of the period present us with a hyper-masculinized landscape in the Amazonian jungle, and neglect the numerous women – Creoles, Europeans or Indigenous – involved in the extractive machinery by forgetting, anonymizing or relegating rubber women as minor, transparent, and almost invisible social actors.
By developing an innovative and multidisciplinary approach that combines ethno-history, ethnography, gender studies, digital humanities and visual anthropology, the project aims to trace, reconstruct and revalue female agency during the Bolivian rubber boom.
The aim is to rescue testimonies of and about native women (siringueras, cooks, maids, washers, lovers, “bush wives”) neglected by the sources due to their ethnic condition, but also related to the working Creole or European women who arrived in the Amazon to be silenced by the sexist bias of regional historiography, or either those women who were rendered invisible as immigrant settlers that joined their relatives in the great rubber adventure.
Therefore, the first objective of the project is to create a participatory and open access web archive about multiethnic women during the rubber era, making available the information gathered to a broader public: the digital archive will consist of historical documentation and above all ethnographic data, unpublished texts and little-known pictures about the extractive experience of rubber women. The second objective is a critical re-reading of the oral, documentary and visual information in order to analyze the multiple modalities of female participation in the extractive endeavor, and reconstruct an heterogeneous continuum of relations linking women and rubber that ranged from barter to wage labor, from marriage alliance to compadrazgo (fictive kinship), and from commerce to sexual violence, kidnapping and even enslavement.
Fields of science
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