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Prof. Katherine Marino

Published 8/28/2019

In fall 2018, the History of Gender and Sexuality group along with the UCLA Department of History welcomed new faculty member, Katherine Marino. Marino was born and raised in northern California and received her PhD from Stanford University. She spent several years as a member of the faculty at Ohio State University before coming to UCLA. Marino is a historian of the twentieth-century United States and Latin America and has a special interest in transnational feminisms and international human rights.

Her 2019 book, Feminism for the Americas: The Making of an International Human Rights Movement (University of North Carolina Press) is based on over a decade of research conducted in the archives of seven countries (Argentina, Brazil, Cuba, Mexico, Panama, the United States, and Uruguay) and in four languages (Spanish, Portuguese, English, and French). Covering the period from the First World War through the Second World War and focusing on individuals and groups that have generally been overlooked, Feminism for the Americas complicates standard accounts of the development of the women’s movement. Feminism did not, as many believe, go quiescent in the nineteenth thirties. Nor did North American feminists “lead the way” in the development of international feminism. Unlike many US feminists at the time, Latin American feminists recognized the intersecting dynamics of race, gender, class, ethnicity, language, and nation/empire, and pushed for a broad feminist agenda. They championed the economic interests of laboring women and called for social equality as well as political rights. They also condemned imperialism, including US imperialism which produced friction with US feminists.  In the 1930s and 40s, Latin American feminists worked to defeat fascism and to persuade international organizations to embrace human rights as a goal.  

Marino believes that Latin American women are still at the forefront of feminism today. “Women from the global south,” Marino argues,” have long been at the forefront of pushing against state power and violence, building transna­tional connections, and paving the way for international conceptions of human rights.” Just one example is the #NiUnaMenos movement that feminists started in Argentina in 2015, before the #metoo movement, and that spread throughout Latin America to oppose sexual and state violence, including violence against transgender people, and promote reproductive justice. “Especially right now,” Marino observes, “there is so much that we in the U.S. could learn from activism elsewhere in the world. We should be turning to it for ideas, inspiration, and solidarity.”

Looking to future projects, Marino plans to extend her study of transnational feminism and human rights in the Americas into the latter half of the twentieth century. For now, she is working on an article about Felicia Santizo, an Afro-Panamanian feminist, educator, musician, and communist leader, who worked with indigenous, West Indian, and Afro-Panamanian women, in­cluding many domestic workers, from the 1930s through the 60s in Panama and in Cuba.