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Negotiating Love in Post-Revolutionary Nicaragua

The role of love in the reproduction of gender asymmetry

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Turid Hagene

This book explores the issue of love and its place in the reproduction of gender asymmetry in Nicaragua. The theme is discussed in the context of specific religious and work practices, living arrangements, gender values and norms, and the gender practices and legislation of the Sandinista revolution.
The study uses lifeworld phenomenology as its theoretical approach, placing people’s own experience center stage. Therefore, a case study of the Esperanza sewing cooperative is presented, built on life stories, interview materials and participant observation with the cooperative women and their husbands. The material and discursive practices and emotional experiences of men and women are examined in this particular socio-cultural setting. How do we account for the highly unequal bargains the women strike with their husbands, accepting large material responsibilities and «time-share» love even if they experience this as emotionally hurtful? The study testifies to women’s autonomy in family maintenance and religious practices, an autonomy which seems to falter in the fields of love and sexuality; some of the men and women, however, negotiate subtle changes in gender norms and values.
Contents: Patronage lifeworlds in religious and work practices – Popular religion and evangelism – Women’s cooperatives in small industry – Life stories of the Esperanza Women – Gender Relations and Women’s Lives – Two forms of Patriarchy: classic and absentee – Post-revolutionary legal regulations – Laws and social reality – Monogamous women with polygynous men? Polimonogamy – Amor compartido and violence – Negotiating changes in gender norms and identities – Many ways to conceive of love – Patriarchy as social system – Elements of the FSLN (Sandinista Front of National Liberation) gender policy and practice.