The Bolivia Reader: History, Culture, Politics
A Woman’s Work
Federation of Women Workers, Alison Spedding, 2018. "A Woman’s Work", The Bolivia Reader: History, Culture, Politics, Sinclair Thomson, Rossana Barragán, Xavier Albó, Seemin Qayum, Mark Goodale
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Beginning in the 1920s, anarchism was instrumental in the building of the Bolivian trade-union movement. The Federation of Local Workers (fol) brought together workers from a range of trades who were influenced by anarchist “free-thinking.” Artisans were especially prominent in the fol, and the movement created bridges with the indigenous cacique-apoderado movement as well as spaces for female union organization. The Federation of Women Workers (fof) included cooks, flower sellers, urban market vendors, and rural marketers. The following oral-history accounts of the 1930s and 1940s were recorded in the mid- to late 1980s by the La Paz–based Women’s History and Participation Workshop (tahipamu), and are interspersed with excerpts from historical documents of the period. The testimony of women active in the cooks union provides a vivid picture of what anarchosyndicalist organization meant in the lives of urban working women of popular Aymara background, commonly known as cholas.