Catholic Women and Mexican Politics, 1750–1940

How women preserved the power of the Catholic Church in Mexican political life


Published (US):
Jan 3, 2023
Published (UK):
Jan 24, 2023
6.12 x 9.25 in.
7 b/w illus. 5 tables. 2 maps.
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What accounts for the enduring power of the Catholic Church, which withstood widespread and sustained anticlerical opposition in Mexico? Margaret Chowning locates an answer in the untold story of how the Mexican Catholic church in the nineteenth century excluded, then accepted, and then came to depend on women as leaders in church organizations.

But much more than a study of women and the church or the feminization of piety, the book links new female lay associations beginning in the 1840s to the surprisingly early politicization of Catholic women in Mexico. Drawing on a wealth of archival materials spanning more than a century of Mexican political life, Chowning boldly argues that Catholic women played a vital role in the church’s resurrection as a political force in Mexico after liberal policies left it for dead.

Shedding light on the importance of informal political power, this book places Catholic women at the forefront of Mexican conservatism and shows how they kept loyalty to the church strong when the church itself was weak.

In dialogue: Writing women’s history

Awards and Recognition

  • Honorable Mention for the Howard Cline Prize in Mexican History, Latin American Studies Association