México's Nobodies

The Cultural Legacy of the Soldadera and Afro-Mexican Women

By B. Christine Arce

Subjects: Latin American Studies, Women's Studies, Indigenous Studies, History
Series: SUNY series, Genders in the Global South
Paperback : 9781438463582, 350 pages, January 2018
Hardcover : 9781438463575, 350 pages, February 2017

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Table of contents

List of Illustrations
Introduction: The Paradox of Invisibility

Part I: Entre Adelitas y Cucarachas: The Soldadera as Trope in the Mexican Revolution

1. Soldaderas and the Making of Revolutionary Spaces

2. The Many Faces of the Soldadera and the Adelita Complex

3. Beyond the “Custom of Her Sex and Country”

Part II: The Blacks in the Closet

4. Black Magic and the Inquisition: The Legend of La Mulata de Córdoba and the Case of Antonia de Soto

5. “Dios pinta como quiere”: Blackness and Redress in Mexican Golden Age Film

6. The Music of the Afro-Mexican Universe and the Dialectics of Son

Conclusion: To Be Expressed Otherwise


Analyzes cultural materials that grapple with gender and blackness to revise traditional interpretations of Mexicanness.


Honorable Mention, 2018 Elli Kongas-Maranda Professional Award presented by the Women's Studies Section of the American Folklore Society
Winner of the 2018 Katherine Singer Kovacs Prize presented by the Modern Language Association
Winner of the 2016 Victoria Urbano Critical Monograph Book Prize presented by the International Association of Hispanic Feminine Literature and Culture

México's Nobodies examines two key figures in Mexican history that have remained anonymous despite their proliferation in the arts: the soldadera and the figure of the mulata. B. Christine Arce unravels the stunning paradox evident in the simultaneous erasure (in official circles) and ongoing fascination (in the popular imagination) with the nameless people who both define and fall outside of traditional norms of national identity. The book traces the legacy of these extraordinary figures in popular histories and legends, the Inquisition, ballads such as "La Adelita" and "La Cucaracha," iconic performers like Toña la Negra, and musical genres such as the son jarocho and danzón. This study is the first of its kind to draw attention to art's crucial role in bearing witness to the rich heritage of blacks and women in contemporary México.

B. Christine Arce is Assistant Professor of Latin American Literature and Culture at the University of Miami.


"No one has written as lovingly and profusely on Mexican minorities as the wonderful B. Christine Arce. Here she writes about soldaderas, women of color, and camp followers—the courageous women who followed the troops during the Mexican Revolution. Without these women, soldiers would have deserted and the men would have run back home. Arce has not only captured the essence of Mexican women but also of Afro-Mexicans, who are typically forgotten and purposefully neglected. " — Elena Poniatowska, author of Massacre in Mexico