Without the soldaderas there is no Mexican Revolution—they kept it alive and fertile, like the earth. They would be sent ahead of the rest to gather firewood and to light the fire. They kept it stoked during the long years of war. Without the soldaderas, the drafted soldiers would have deserted. During the Spanish Civil War in 1936, the militiamen couldn't understand why they shouldn't return to their homes at night. They would abandon their posts, leaving the trenches, watchtowers and barracks empty, and head home to their own beds without a care in the world.
In Mexico, in 1910, had the soldiers not carried their homes on their backs—their soldadera with their folding beds, blankets, pots and provisions—the number of men who would have taken off to shelter themselves in a warm corner somewhere would have meant the end of their armies.
Cinco Puntos Press is proud to present the English edition of this remarkable collaboration between Mexico's best independent press, Ediciones ERA, and Mexico's Institute of Anthropology and History. The photographs in Las Soldaderas and Elena Poniatowska's commentary rescue the women of the Mexican Revolution from the dust and oblivion of history. These are the Adelitas and Valentinas celebrated in famous corridos mexicanos, but whose destiny was much more profound and tragic than the idealistic words of ballads. The photographs remind Poniatowska of the trail of women warriors that begins with the Spanish Conquest and continues to MexicoÍs violent revolution.
Elena Poniatowska—journalist, novelist and cultural commentator—is one of Mexico's most widely translated and celebrated living writers. Poniatowska is the recipient of numerous awards and honors, including a Guggenheim Fellowship and an Emeritus Fellowship from Mexico's National Council of Culture and Arts. She was the first woman to win the Mexican national award for journalism.
The Casasola Collection/Archiveis based on the work of Agustín Casasola (1874-1938), one of the first photo-journalists in Mexico and founder of the photo agency which bears his name. The archive provides an unparalleled visual record of Mexican political life, social environments and public concerns in the first half of the twentieth century.