Edges of Empire

KNW 2399: Edges of Empire

Working Mexican Women


This photograph, which was taken in Mexico City during the late 1800s, depicts a harrowing scene in which around 20+ women are seen washing clothes. Of these women, some can be identified with holding and tending to small children. It is evident that these women are working hard as many, many pieces of linen are draped around the confines of the building in order to dry. The women seem relatively young and are dresses simplistically and ready to work. From this, we can assume that these women are not high class as they are dress like and are doing tasks of that of a low wage worker. But that is not why this picture is interesting – it is interesting because all of the women have been drawn to a dramatic halt as they are all looking upon something in the far distance of the back frame. The Mexican economy was expanding in this time period, but as we learned in class and as we can tell from this photo, working conditions were not improved alongside the improvements in the economy. It is evident that these women are impoverished, working for little wage and doing hard manual labor. This photo strikes curiosity in me in that I am now wondering what working class jobs for women were like in Mexico at this time – were they all similar to this? Were all Mexican low class jobs similar to this for men and women alike? Were European working habits and roles forced upon Mexican society?Teddy Richardson

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