Women and the Conquest of California, 1542-1840
Codes of Silence
Virginia Bouvier has combed a vast array of sources— including mission records, journals of explorers and missionaries, novels of chivalry, and oral histories— and has discovered that female participation in the colonization of California was greater and earlier than most historians have recognized. Viewing the conquest through the prism of gender, Bouvier gives new meaning to the settling of new lands and attempts to convert indigenous peoples. By analyzing the participation of women— both Hispanic and Indian— in the maintenance of or resistance to the mission system, Bouvier restores them to the narrative of the conquest, colonization, and evangelization of California. And by bringing these voices into the chorus of history, she creates new harmonies and dissonances that alter and enhance our understanding of both the experience and meaning of conquest.
"The book is an impressive accomplishment, and it deserves wide readership. . . . a notable contribution to the history of California. It deepens our understanding of what early California was actually like for all its inhabitants." —California Mission Studies Association
"Bouvier makes singularly important contributions to our knowledge and understanding of the centrality of gender, sexuality, women, and violence to the ideologies and politics of conquest. Her book should be required reading in multiple fields of history, in Women's Studies, and in other interdisciplinary fields. Only then will the silence be broken." —Catholic Historical Review
"Her goal has not simply been to write women into the story, but to overturn the long-held fiction that the settlement and conquest of Spain’s territories was the work of men alone. . . . A very informative, clearly written, and lively study." —The Americas