This article examines changes in gender relations in an Indian
south-western Nicaragua between Independence and the coffee revolution,
the nation-state was weak and municipal governments exercised considerable
power. It analyses landed property, household headship and public control
so-called private morality, and considers how these were influenced by
economy. First, it argues that public regulation of domestic life was important
the consolidation of municipal authority. It legitimated the power of the
peasant elite, a key aspect of state formation at the local level.
Second, the article
examines how the rise of private property altered gendered arrangements.
analyses the relationship between expansion in female land rights and the
incidence of female headed households and argues that peasant women's
acquisition of land accentuated a pre-existing tendency towards non-marrying
behaviour. The study is based on archival sources.