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Revista Interamericana de Bibliografía (RIB)
Número: 1-4
Título: 1997
Sección: Reseñas Criticas / Critical Reviews


Cuddon, J.A. 1987. A Dictionary of Literary Terms. Rev. ed.

London: Penguin Books.

Ducrot, Oswald, y Tzvetan Todorov. 1974. Diccionario enciclopédico de las ciencias del lenguaje. Buenos Aires: Siglo Veintiuno.

Fowler, Roger. 1987. A Dictionary of Modern Critical Terms. Rev. ed. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.

Greimas, A.J., y J. Courtés. 1982. Semiótica: Diccionario razonado de la teoría del lenguaje. Madrid: Gredos.

Groden, Michael, y Martin Kreiswirth, eds. 1994. The Johns Hopkins Guide to Literary Theory and Criticism. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press.

Lázaro Carreter, Fernando. 1968. Diccionario de términos filológicos. Madrid: Gredos.

Marchese. Angelo, y Joaquín Forradellas. 1989. Diccionario de retórica, crítica y terminología literaria. 2a ed. Barcelona: Ariel

Preminger, Alex, ed. 1974. Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics. Enlarged ed. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press.

Prince, Gerald. 1989. A Dictionary of Narratology. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press.Altagracia ORTIZ, ed. Puerto Rican Women and Work: Bridges in Transnational Labor. PA: Temple University Press, 1996.

This collection of eight essays by contemporary feminist scholars probes the evolution of Puerto Rican women’s work from the New Deal days to the present.

Taken together they paint a stark picture of the situations Puerto Rican women have faced because of gender and class considerations. Some focus on particular sectors: the needle trades, the garment industry, clerical work and teaching.

The effects of migration, technology, unionization and globalization are deftly interwoven in this presentation of changing work patterns, particularly among Puerto Rican women in New York.

The first three decades of the twentieth century set the stage for the later vulnerability Puerto Rican women have faced in the labor market since the island needle workers preferred to work at home in order that they could fulfill the domestic gender roles society expected of them.

Altagracia Ortiz’ essay describes how Puerto Rican garment workers in New York City faced stubborn opposition from union ranks throughout the early 1920s and 30s. For women organized into a “special department”, there was no protection for their rights. In spite of low wages and discrimination, the author indicates the garment industry of the city would not have survived without their labor in the 1950s and 60s. The lack of other skills left them jobless when the industry globalized but their low wages had allowed them to educate a new generation of Puerto Rican workers.

In another very interesting essay, Virginia Sanchez Korrol explores the role of Puerto Rican teachers in the struggle to help increasing numbers of bilingual children in New York City during two decades beginning in the late forties. The struggle against English-only programs then presages our modern controversies. A twenty-year campaign, ending in a historic law suit to compel bilingual education, is the proud legacy of this cadre of auxiliary teachers.

Another chapter explores the impact of job losses in the mid-Atlantic region in the decades of the 1970s and 80s. Alice Colon-Warren offers a thought-provoking discussion of the relationship between gender and poverty and the unequal incorporation of women and men into the labor market. The slow growth of the service occupations, job displacement, and a number of discriminatory, “isms” play into the uneven playing field for Puerto Rican female workers.

The full panoply of island cultural atavisms, personalism, compadrazgo, household dynamics, all continue to define family and “domestic” responsibilities rigidly. Fortunately, however, women’s strategies once again adapted to the global expansion of the capitalist system in the ‘80’s. Pessimistically, Carmen Perez-Herrans foresees another wave of migrants to the Unites States because of limited job opportunities in Puerto Rico.

Marya Muñoz-Vázquez considers the struggle for better environmental health conditions in the workplace in Puerto Rico in the 1980s and focuses on grassroots organizing and leadership as a political action tool. This essay illustrates how gendered segregation of work affects women’s experiences with health hazards and sheds light on female uses of the basic collective decision making processes.

Three contributors collaborated on a chapter which explores women’s negotiations within their family units. Women see the family as a productive venture and often sacrifice their own work needs in favor of the familia. Many fall into welfare eventually because of unstable relationships with partners, lack of child care and demeaning working conditions. Even under exploitive conditions, factory jobs were perceived as an avenue to progress in the ‘70’s; today, however, the big question is whether or not the nation’s economic structures can provide sufficient family stability to nurture future generations of workers.

The final chapter of this collection, by Geraldine Casey, comments on changing mores affecting employment, class mobility and equity among contemporary female clerical workers in the island, where clerical workers compromise around 30% of the workforce. Out of every 40 clericals, 39 are women. This stratification, a rising gender gap in education (more women than men attend and graduate at all levels) and soaring unemployment in the sector (went from 18 to 28% between 1975 and 1990), as well as shrinking job opportunities in the economy as a whole force a whopping 68% of women to be “out of the workforce”. Embracing new technologies and “professionalizing” clerical trades are among the new coping mechanisms offered to provide less uncertainty for clerical workers seeking equity, empowerment and freedom from sexual harassment in the workplace.

This unique collection written by female scholars is a needed prism through which to continue examining the plight of Puerto Rican women on the island and the mainland.

Former President                                                                                          CARMEN DELGADO VOTAW
Inter-American Commission of Women
Organization of American States