From 1880 to 1920, the rubber industry opened up the Amazon basin – and particu￾larly the Bolivian jungle – to international trade; therefore, for the first time, the inhos￾pitable and hitherto marginal lands of regions such as Beni, Acre and Pando gained both a strategic position on the republican chessboard and a more direct link to the global market. The productive boom prompted a systematic policy of exploration of the jungle territory, the opening of new communication routes and the consolidation of national borders. But, above all, the extractive vertigo also translated into a notorious demographic expansion: the Amazon jungle thus began to receive increasing waves of immigrants from other parts of Bolivia, as well as a growing mass of international workers dazzled by the almost instant fortune promised by the ‘gold’ that flowed from the rubber trees. However, documentary sources often present us with the canonical image of a hyper-masculinised jungle landscape and rubber industry: indeed, we know little or nothing of the Creole, European or Indigenous women involved in one way or another in the extractive endeavour. Women are usually represented as minor social actors: transparent, anonymous, almost invisible, forgotten, relegated or in any case mentioned laterally, obliquely or indirectly by historical sources. This rule, however, is challenged by some notable exceptions. One of these is undoubtedly the testimony of the British Elisabeth ‘Lizzie’ Hessel, whose letters to her family in Europe provide the only first-person account that allows us to piece together the female experience in a Bolivian rubber plantation. Her observations, therefore, constitute an exceptional period document of the lights and shadows of the extractive boom.

HISTORIAS DE AMOR, DE LOCURA Y DE MUERTE: LAS MUJERES EN LA INDUSTRIA GOMERA

LORENA CORDOBA
Writing – Original Draft Preparation
2024-01-01

Abstract

From 1880 to 1920, the rubber industry opened up the Amazon basin – and particu￾larly the Bolivian jungle – to international trade; therefore, for the first time, the inhos￾pitable and hitherto marginal lands of regions such as Beni, Acre and Pando gained both a strategic position on the republican chessboard and a more direct link to the global market. The productive boom prompted a systematic policy of exploration of the jungle territory, the opening of new communication routes and the consolidation of national borders. But, above all, the extractive vertigo also translated into a notorious demographic expansion: the Amazon jungle thus began to receive increasing waves of immigrants from other parts of Bolivia, as well as a growing mass of international workers dazzled by the almost instant fortune promised by the ‘gold’ that flowed from the rubber trees. However, documentary sources often present us with the canonical image of a hyper-masculinised jungle landscape and rubber industry: indeed, we know little or nothing of the Creole, European or Indigenous women involved in one way or another in the extractive endeavour. Women are usually represented as minor social actors: transparent, anonymous, almost invisible, forgotten, relegated or in any case mentioned laterally, obliquely or indirectly by historical sources. This rule, however, is challenged by some notable exceptions. One of these is undoubtedly the testimony of the British Elisabeth ‘Lizzie’ Hessel, whose letters to her family in Europe provide the only first-person account that allows us to piece together the female experience in a Bolivian rubber plantation. Her observations, therefore, constitute an exceptional period document of the lights and shadows of the extractive boom.
2024
La reina del Orthon Crónicas femeninas del auge gomero
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/10278/5059241
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