Roots of Resistance: A Story of Gender, Race, and Labor on the North Coast of Honduras (Hardcover)

Roots of Resistance: A Story of Gender, Race, and Labor on the North Coast of Honduras By Suyapa G. Portillo Villeda Cover Image

Roots of Resistance: A Story of Gender, Race, and Labor on the North Coast of Honduras (Hardcover)


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Winner of the 2021 Sara A. Whaley Prize of the National Women’s Studies Association (NWSA)

A first-of-its-kind study of the working-class culture of resistance on the Honduran North Coast and the radical organizing that challenged US capital and foreign intervention at the onset of the Cold War, examining gender, race, and place.

On May 1, 1954, striking banana workers on the North Coast of Honduras brought the regional economy to a standstill, invigorating the Honduran labor movement and placing a series of demands on the US-controlled banana industry. Their actions ultimately galvanized a broader working-class struggle and reawakened long-suppressed leftist ideals. The first account of its kind in English, Roots of Resistance explores contemporary Honduran labor history through the story of the great banana strike of 1954 and centers the role of women in the narrative of the labor movement.

Drawing on extensive firsthand oral history and archival research, Suyapa G. Portillo Villeda examines the radical organizing that challenged US capital and foreign intervention in Honduras at the onset of the Cold War. She reveals the everyday acts of resistance that laid the groundwork for the 1954 strike and argues that these often-overlooked forms of resistance should inform analyses of present-day labor and community organizing. Roots of Resistance highlights the complexities of transnational company hierarchies, gender and race relations, and labor organizing that led to the banana workers' strike and how these dynamics continue to reverberate in Honduras today.

Suyapa G. Portillo Villeda is an associate professor of Chicana/o-Latina/o Transnational Studies at Pitzer College and a member of the intercollegiate department of Chicanx Latinx studies at the Claremont Colleges Consortium.
Product Details ISBN: 9781477322185
ISBN-10: 1477322183
Publisher: University of Texas Press
Publication Date: April 20th, 2021
Pages: 432
Language: English
This is an ambitious project with many strengths. First and foremost, Portillo succeeds in recovering the voices of women workers... Portillo’s work on domestic relations reveals rich ground for future studies on the interplay of labor and gender in banana zones...Portillo has succeeded in writing a bottom-up study of the 1954 strike that will be of interest to scholars interested in integrating women workers’ stories into broader labor histories.
— The Americas

Portillo Villeda’s history of the 1954 strike joins a vast literature on the role and legacy of the fruit companies that once regarded the countries of Central America as their fiefdoms. It is eminently readable, empathetic, and meticulously researched but also entirely original in its attention to the gendered and racialized dimensions of the strike. In sum, her book should become essential reading about the labor movement in Central America, proof that it is possible to say something truly new about an already well-trodden episode in the region’s arduous history.
— Hispanic American Historical Review

This book, more than any other recent publication about Honduran history, not only deeply contextualises the social and political development of Honduras after the 2009 coup, it simultaneously offers deep historical perspective for characterising the outcome of the recent November 2021 general elections...[Roots of Resistance] is clearly written, and very readable for a range of audiences...This is a major and unique contribution to modern Honduran and Central American historiography.
— Bulletin of Latin American Research

Roots of Resistance offers a deeply moving workers’ history of the 1954 [Great Banana Strike]...Roots of Resistance is a striking piece of scholarship. In addition to the book’s myriad insights, Portillo Villeda writes with a distinct humanity that professional historians frequently shy away from.
— A Contracorriente

The monumental struggles discussed in Roots of Resistance can serve as a lesson for workers and those who are committed to serving the people...teaching, researching, and writing in Central American Studies should not be limited to mere interpretation of the conditions of peoples’ existence. It should also spur revolutionary change. Modeling the need for a historical and materialist analysis and method, Portillo’s Roots of Resistance contributes to this political and intellectual project.