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Tales Told Out On The Borderlands: Doña María’s Story, Oral History and Issues of Gender By: James Daniel. Presentation By: MacKenzie Weatherly. Background . Berisso city of 70,000 (1980) Armour and Swift meatpacking plants est. in first part of century Reached peak during WWII

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Tales Told Out On The Borderlands: Doña María’s Story, Oral History and Issues of GenderBy: James Daniel

Presentation By: MacKenzie Weatherly

  • Berisso city of 70,000 (1980)
  • Armour and Swift meatpacking plants est. in first part of century
  • Reached peak during WWII
  • Transatlantic Migration
  • Pop. of 50,000 by 1940s
  • Created the one of the first unions courted by Juan Perón: SindicatoAutónomo de Obreros de la Industria de la Carne lead by Cipriano Reyes
    • Played a strong role in the release of Perón in 1945
    • Source of inspiration for the foundation of the PartidoLaborista
    • Mobilized the working-class to support Perón

Received better work conditions and salaries during 1946-55

After Perónoverthrow in 55 decline in large-scale meatpacking plants in Argentina

60s workforce was reduced rapidly

1969 Armor closed

Swift closed by the late 70’s

Berisso maintained its population and remained politically active

do a mar a roldan
Doña MaríaRoldan
  • Born in 1915 in San Martin
  • Married and moved to Berisso in 1931
  • Starting working for Swift in 1944
    • First female shop steward in the Swift Plant
  • Participated in creating the union
  • Involved in political movement to support Perón
  • Spoke in the Plaza de Mayo on October 17, 1945
  • Traveled the country as part with Perón’s campaign
oral history
Oral History


Real or not?


“Blurring of genres”

Mixing of stories

Tensions within stories

do a mar a s story and gender
Doña María'sStory and Gender
  • Symptomatic
    • Theme of Gender in story
  • Emphasized the respect and equality of treatment

she received from the male union leaders

  • Paints a picture of ideal marriage
    • Mutual respect and understanding
    • Used her power to help other women
    • Those not a laborista opposed her being in the public sphere
    • Union purpose was to lessen the vulnerable position of women in the plants and limit masculine power and authority over women.

Once I stopped in front of a foreman, this was when we had already come to believe in unions and we could defend ourselves better, this foreman said to a woman, "Senora, you're useless," when I saw that the woman didn't say anything I said to him, "This woman has a husband and she is a wife and mother of a family, what right do you have to call her useless?" "Well, she doesn't know how to work," he said to me. "Have the decency, senor jefe, to call her aside and explain to her what is happening, not insult her in front of everyone, remember that you were born of a woman, not from a plant, or weren't you born of a woman?" I said to him, the impulsive one they called me, yes, Iaimpulsiva, because I shouted in their faces. Where does he get off telling her in front of all her compañeras that she is useless? The woman stayed there, like someone who had killed another person, like a condemned woman. I said to her, "Lift your head up, querida, you're not useless, you just arrived and haven't adapted yet, you'll soon work like us.”-Doña

  • Heavy influence on Berisso community
    • Berisso huge part in the Peronist Movement
  • “Golden Age” 1945-1955
    • Increase of women outside the home
    • Better work conditions and wages
traditional values
Traditional Values

Doña expressed “Good wife and mother ideal”

"Woman has been born to be in the home with her children, to raise her children, to take care of the house, clean it.”-Doña

Hostility towards divorce, birth control, and abortion


“I said to him, "Colonel, I feel wounded many times when my husband on election day says, the people have voted, and I say to him, no the people didn't vote, half the people voted, because a woman is a citizen. . . . We can't allow the situation to exist anymore, Colonel, where alcoholics, madmen, the dead - he started to laugh at this – monks, vote and we have to listen to our husbands, our fiancés, our brothers, and our uncles tell us that the people voted, aren't we the people, too, Colonel? . . .” Perónturned to Reyes and asked him if I was a doctora. "No-o-o," replied Reyes with a chuckle, "she's a meatpacker.” - Doña

do a mar a and eva per n
Doña María and Eva Perón



“Good Wife” and “Good Mother”

Voice for others

daniel s input
Daniel’s Input

How can we approach the problem of using such stories to better understand the issue of gender in working-class history?

Is there a way of reconciling the two different sets of stereotypes about gender present in her narrative?

other s answers
Other’s Answers

Emphasize the presence of counter-discourses expressive of oppressed and repressed women’s voices

Reframe experiences and make new cultural possibilities

New collective stories with new roles, stereotypes,and resolutions

daniel s answer
Daniel’s Answer

Doña María's story as a counter-discourse challenging the authority of a dominant ideal of working-class women is to simple

Does not include the ideas of new life-script, newly found harmony that mixes personal history and socially legitimized roles, and the power and efficiency of communal and class naratives in working-class communities

Oral history is complex and holds contradictions thus can be used to tell of the complexity of working-class lives