Catholic Women and Mexican Politics, 1750-1940

Margaret Chowning, Elena Schneider, and Gisselle Perez-Leon 

Part of the Spring 2024 Novedades/Lançamentos: New Scholarship @ Berkeley Series

February 1, 2024

Margaret Chowning: Catholic Women and Mexican Politics, 1750-1940

Event Description

Professor Margaret Chowning of UC Berkeley’s History Department will speak on her new book, Catholic Women and Mexican Politics, 1750–1940.
Catholic Women and Mexican Politics, 1750–1940 tells the untold story of how the Mexican Catholic church in the 19th 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.
This is the first event of the semester in the CLACS series Novedades/Lançamentos: New Scholarship @ Berkeley. This series highlights new work from Berkeley scholars about Latin America and the Caribbean by inviting a faculty member and a graduate student to discuss the recent work of a Berkeley faculty member.


Margaret Chowning is Professor and Sonne Chair in Latin American History in the Department of History at UC Berkeley. Her research interests are Mexico, Latin America in the late colonial period and nineteenth century, women, church, and social and economic history in Latin America.

Elena Schneider is an Associate Professor of History at UC Berkeley. Her research focuses on Cuba and the Caribbean, comparative colonialism and slavery, and the Black Atlantic.

Gisselle Perez-Leon is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of History at UC Berkeley. Her research traces the development of public services and municipal governance in Nogales, Sonora between 1918, when the first physical boundary divided “Ambos Nogales,” and 1965, when investments from the Mexican National Border Program (PRONAF) and the binational Border Industrialization Program rebuilt the Nogales gateway.