Che Guevara: Masculinity at the Crossroads of Life and Revolutionary Thought

Sunday, January 5, 2014: 12:00 PM
Columbia Hall 1 (Washington Hilton)
Erin E. O'Connor, Bridgewater State University
Ernesto “Che” Guevara is one of the best-known individuals in twentieth-century Latin American history, renowned for his journals from his youthful wanderings, his contributions to the Cuban Revolution and to socialist thought more generally, and his untimely death in the Bolivian highlands.  One can easily find biographies on his life, memoirs of him by those who were closest to him, and various collections of his intellectual writings on socialism.  Similarly, there is abundant work on the ties and tensions between socialism and feminism in Latin America.  There has been some particularly close work of how, although male revolutionary leaders claimed that they would address gender inequalities, the revolutions in Cuba and Central America tended to reinforce masculine power in politics and society.  However, very little work on gender has been done on Guevara himself, even though sex and romance were central to his early diaries and masculine references abound in his later works.  Studying the theme of masculinity in Guevara’s writings provides a new avenue for analysis and understanding of this iconic figure.  This paper, therefore, closely scrutinizes “lo masculino” in Guevara’s writings and life story.  Importantly, it studies how socialist theory, not just practices, contributed to the masculinization of Latin American revolutions.  The theme of masculinity, therefore, offers a lens through which to deepen our understanding of Guevara’s place in the history of Latin American socialism.
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