War, Religion, and Gender Ideology: The Politics of Peace Symbols in the 1990 Nicaraguan Elections


Dolan, Maureen. 1990. "War, Religion, and Gender Ideology: The Politics of Peace Symbols in the 1990 Nicaraguan Elections." Critical Sociology 17 (2): 103-9.

Author: Maureen Dolan


Analyses of the Sandinista defeat in the Nicaraguan elections of 1990 have focused both on the external pressures on the revolutionary state (warfarea and subsequent economic factors unfavorable for the national economy) and on factors internal to the revolutionary process (separation of FSLN from the grassroots organizations, hierarchical party structures, and related factors). However, little space has been devoted to an analysis of the gender politics of the election, either in terms of women's response as subjects differently affected by the war or in terms of the impact of the ideological struggle over the social construction of women and mothers in the electoral process.

This paper will examine how the complex personal and political component of the lived experience of prolonged warfare became articulated in the gender politics of the electoral campaign. I will argue tht the international process of militarization that characterized the contra war shaped the context for the construction of gender politics in the 1990 election campaign. I will further argue that the gender metaphors of the political discourse, as utilized in the ideological construction of the presidential candidates as peace candidates, constitute a key site in which the electoral campaigns of the Sandinistas and the UNO coalition defined their strategy. Ultimately, the construction of Danial Ortega as "gallo enavejado" – the macho fighting cock armed for battle – was less convincing as an image for achieving peace in Nicaragua than Violeta Chamorro, ideologically constructed by the UNO campaign as the "Virgin Mary" – the conciliatory maternal figure with religious and quasi-magical power for ending war.

Keywords: Political campaigns, militarism, political parties, ideology, education

Topics: Gender, Women, Health, Reproductive Health, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Militarism, Political Participation, Religion Regions: Americas, Central America Countries: Nicaragua

Year: 1990

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