This image is the cover for the book Soldaderas in the Mexican Military

Soldaderas in the Mexican Military

This study explores the evolving role of women soldiers in Mexico—as both fighters and cultural symbols—from the pre-Columbian era to the present.

Since pre-Columbian times, soldiering has been a traditional life experience for innumerable women in Mexico. Yet the many names given these women warriors—heroines, camp followers, Amazons, coronelas, soldadas, soldaderas, and Adelitas—indicate their ambivalent position within Mexican society. In this original study, Elizabeth Salas challenges many traditional stereotypes, shedding new light on the significance of these women.

Drawing on military archival data, anthropological studies, and oral history interviews, Salas first explores the real roles played by Mexican women in armed conflicts. She finds that most of the functions performed by women easily equate to those performed by revolutionaries and male soldiers in the quartermaster corps and regular ranks. She then turns her attention to the soldadera as a continuing symbol, examining the image of the soldadera in literature, corridos, art, music, and film.

Salas finds that the fundamental realities of war link all Mexican women, regardless of time period, social class, or nom de guerre.

Elizabeth Salas

Elizabeth Salas is Asspciate Professor of Chicano studies at the University of Washington.

University of Texas Press