2023-24 Lloyd & Susanne Rudolph Field Research Fellow



Derecho Feminista: A Comparative Social History of Feminist Legalities in Mexico and the United States



“In Mexico and the U.S., feminists in the 1970s created and disputed social norms and institutions to transform women’s position in society. In their political practice, activists deployed law in imaginative ways, experimenting with alternative forms of organizing production and reproduction: in mutual aid societies, feminist unions, popular daycares, radical magazines, and many more. Feminism was not just a lens or a demand but a vantage point through which to re-imagine and re-invent social, economic, and cultural structures. Because of their similar trajectories, a comparative social history of feminists’ legal projects offers a privileged site to investigate feminist politics, their breadth, significance, and afterlives.  


After the upheavals of the 70s, both countries witnessed the emergence of more narrow and static understandings of the law in the 80s and 90s. The principles that had informed the grassroots projects of prior decades largely disappeared. In the U.S., abortion rose as the epitome of feminist politics, whereas in Mexico, feminicidios became the paradigmatic feminist category in legal discourses. In both cases, the legal experiments and institutions of the 70s were virtually erased as historical legacies and political possibilities. This project intends to recover those histories as institutional visions that deployed the law as a site for feminist transformation and understand why and how it changed. During my Field Research, I will trace the trajectories of Mexican feminist groups and their shifting uses of the law as an institutional building block. I will conduct archival research and oral history interviews to reconstruct the feminist legalities activists articulated through their political practice and their change."  



Niedmann Alvarez.jpeg

“I am a first-year History Ph.D. student and a fourth-year J.S.D. student at the Law School. I am originally from Chile, where I went to law school and was admitted to the bar. I worked in the Chilean antitrust agency before moving to the U.S. for graduate school in 2018. I am interested in the ways the law can situate or limit social. My research focuses on questions of legal history, feminist activism, and constitutional law.” 


Read more at their department profile: https://history.uchicago.edu/directory/natalia-niedmann-alvarez