Latin American Women Before and After the Conquest - How They Adapted

Published: 2021-09-13 00:45:08
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Women have been and are adept at adapting to their environments. Latin American women showed this capacity for change during the conquest period but honed these traits during the pre-conquest culture. Two of the many things that appear to have contributed to their flexibility are the rise of complex cultures and the resultant need for refined, or different, roles; and the wars that occurred between these different people states.
As pre-conquest peoples migrated and settled in to their new lands, most learned how to cultivate the earth, which meant that they could settle down and occupy a land. When they settled into specific areas, cities grew. The roles that women played as they migrated changed as they settled into their new cultures. No longer were the men hunters and the women gatherers; men "left the city on missions of war, diplomacy, or trade" (Kellogg, p. 22) while women were responsible for maintaining the households. Women were now accountable for food preparation, raising the children, and crafting the tools and implements needed for their tasks as well as for trade.
As these cities and complex cultures grew, so did their need for expansion or conquest. As a result of this, wars were waged. Some were for growing the civilization; others were to gain captives for sacrifice. Either way, men went to war; which meant that sometimes they did not return. A woman's role would change if her husband, or man of the house, did not return. Women needed to be adaptable to take on new responsibilities in a man's absence whether that was just during the time of his absence or if he did not return at all.

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