Wednesday, October 31, 2007

la noche de las brujas

The past decades have witnessed a rediscovery of the witchcraft tradition. Feminist historians have heard, and given voice to, the cries of women whose torture and deaths are recorded in Malleus Maleficarum (1484). Elizabeth Johnson's She Who Is offers a liturgy of remembrance for the victims of these medieval witch hunts.

Feminist spiritualities, nurtured by women such as Starhawk, have reconnected with pre-Christian pagan roots: honouring goddesses, forming covenants of support, dancing peace through the earth. Feminist Christian theologies have been enriched by such developments, particularly in the development of ecofeminist theology, the rise of Celtic spirituality, and the reappraisal of judgments against independent women and witches in the Bible.

What I appreciate about this re-entrance of the witch into Christian theology is that the witch is representative of all the dominant tradition fears: bodily cycles; heresy; independent, ageing and wise women; uncontrolled spiritualities; alternative communities and commitment; "deviant" sexuality. The New York's Village Halloween Parade* is a celebration of all that breaks through our morality and norms in queer, over-the-top abundance; fairies, witches, hags, fags and queens.

Once again tonight, the Con-spirando collective in Santiago de Chile will be celebrating la noche de las brujas with remembrance, resistance and a gran fiesta.

Ivone Gebara notes:
Witches and sorcerers are today symbols of resistance against a hegemonic and hierarchical system that impedes the proliferation of creative alternatives beyond money and competition. (Gebara 2002: 53)

Witches, she suggests, were not agents of death but defenders of life, practitioners of traditional herbal medicine, midwives, and carers of strays. While the discourse of the patriarchal church spoke of women's weakness and thus vulnerability to evil temptations, it was actually these women's alternative strength that threated, and continues to threaten, the powers-that-be.

Gebara celebrates that today there are still women (and men) who believe in alternative spiritual forces, in other ways of relating and trading that are not violent, competitive or destructive:
They are the heirs of those witches of the past who, with force and tenacity, saved many lives...The witches and sorcerers of the past live in a certain way in each of us, and they invite us to be in communion with nature and to the necessity of changing our behaviour in order to save life itself...¡vivan las brujas y hechiceras, amantes de la vida! (Gebara 2002:59-60)

Ivone Gebara (2002) "Brujas y hechiceras" in La sed de sentido Búsquedas ecofeministas en prose poética Montevideo: Doble Clic Editoras, pp. 53-60.

*to which, I confess, I did not go while living in NYC. I was not yet aware of the creative, defiant potential of this night, distracted by the commercialized, trick or treated, orange-plastic import that has swept across Britain, suffocating more ancient rituals and recordances.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

icecream - the people's choice

So today was hot, hot, hot. So hot we took it in turns to wait at the bus stop, or stand back in the shade.

I took the number 55 bus to meet Eunhye at mi lugar favorito, Mark's in Palermo. The bus was packed ensuring we swayed as one around the (fast) corners, and in and out of the gutter. By twisting in a certain direction, I could see the lines of people chatting in line outside schools and police stations acting as voting stations.

There's not much to say about this election
. Presidente Cristina was a done deal before the election was even announced. There was no escaping her profile plastered over the city, weeks before other candidates emerged. By the way - there's a serious opportunity for marketing agents here; I spent a week thinking one of the candidates was a wanted poster!

It was encouraging to see more women candidates at all levels (president, vice president, senate, governor). But I don't feel Cristina's election is a great step forward for women here. Rather, it demonstrates the small circles power moves within, and thus the lack of real options for the voters.

That said, porteños did all choose something today; a "dry" election 24 hours, and a hot hot city meant, after voting, there was only once option - icecream.

And talking of icecream, a brand new today heladería y café has opened on the corner, making it the third within four blocks. I will do my duty and investigate further...

p.s. photo from the great icecream ireland

Thursday, October 25, 2007

getting the poor down from the cross

Despite living over here, I'm a little behind on the latest attack on liberation theology by the Vatican. Following fellow Latin American theologians, Leonardo Boff and Ivone Gebara (although each case is distinct) Jon Sobrino was officially reprimanded in March of this year.

The Notification of the Vatican focused on Sobrino's Christology as lacking in sufficient stress on the divinity of Christ. The document, Notificazione Sulle Opere Del P. Jon Sobrino, S.I.: "Jesucristo Liberador. Lectura Histórico-Teológica de Jesús de Nazaret (Madrid, 1991) e "La Fe En Jesucristo. Ensayo desde Las Víctimas" (San Salvador, 1999), 14.03.2007 suggests the process of investigation has been going on for some years, only now reaching the stage of notification.

Our understanding of God and ourselves grows through discussion and debate. However, when one conversation partner has the power to silence the other, the overwhelming emotion is fear. Fear from those who seek to drown out any dissenting voice. And courage from those who, despite all the risks, continue to call attention to God's disturbing presence in the world.

It's easy for those of us outside the Roman Catholic church, or theological circles, to see such official denouncements as little more than a joke. Yet, the reality is the Vatican has immediate power over priests and theologians. Thus, while the Vatican did not formally censure Sobrino, the decision was given over to the local bishop, Archbishop Fernando Saenz Lacalle, archbishop of San Salvador. And it has been reported that the archdiocese has stopped Sobrino teaching at the University of Central America (El Salvador).

Support for Sobrino has come from various quarters. A month after the notification, a group of EATWOT theologians published Getting the Poor down from the Cross: a Christology of Liberation. This collection of essays on the figure of Jesus is available to download free - an encouraging sign of collaboration, solidarity and accessible theology.

Fellow "reprobate" Leonard Boff comments (with some irony) in the forward:
Every word in this digital book takes advantage of the propitious occasion provided by the Vatican notification about some points of his Christology. It is a book that pushes forward what, in our opinion, Jon Sobrino, for his part, has written with such pertinence, orthodoxy, and orthopraxis in dealing with the meaning of faith in Jesus Christ, based on the humiliated humanity of millions of brothers and sisters of our peripheral societies. He has taught us how the Churches can join forces in the resurrection of those who are crucified.

Monday, October 22, 2007

feminist theology blogs

Does anyone have any leads on blogs about feminist theology? I've just looked through the hundred theology blogs listed here, done a few other searches and nothing.

There are plenty of blogs on women's spirituality, faith journeys, emerging church, written by women ministers and lay people. But what seems to be lacking are academic blogs on feminist theologies.

Links or comments please...

Sunday, October 21, 2007

teologanda and rajab conferences

Teologanda runs courses and publishes work by a group of predominantly Roman Catholic women theologians here in Buenos Aires. I took a intensive course with them last year and loved both the set readings and the group dynamic. Many of the other women on the course where a little older and wiser than me, with years of pastoral experience to reflection on. They had traveled from all over Argentina and beyond to take the course. We talked real talk - grounded in our own and others' experiences. We were honest about the struggles facing women in the church. We listened with interest and insight to each other. We prayed together, drank coffee and mate, and watched a couple of films. It was a great course.

Teologanda are planning a major conference in March 2008 in Buenos Aires. It's not too late to come along!

Primer Congreso de Teólogas Latinoamericanas y Alemanas del 25 al 27 de marzo de 2008, en la Facultad de Teología de la Universidad del Salvador – Área San Miguel, Pcia. de Buenos Aires. La temática propuesta: “ Biografías, Instituciones y Ciudadanía. Teología y sociedad desde la perspectiva de las mujeres ”

This Saturday just gone, I went over to the other side of the city to attend a preparatory workshop for women wanting to present papers at the conference. We had a great few hours - talking through our ideas, listening to others helpful suggestions, and working in smaller interest groups. So I was able to discuss my proposal with Monica, a psychotherapist specializing in domestic violence issues and planning to present some theological reflections on the language women use to talk about domestic violence. Feminist theology at its best - working creatively and collaboratively.

Secondly, notice of a conference at the end of November on women, migration and the Bible. It looks great - as does the website, with lots of links to follow up. More information:

XII Encuentro Nacional de Lectura Popular de la Biblia desde las Mujeres, Bs.As. 30 de noviembre al 2 de diciembre.

Para este año la propuesta será dialogar desde la diversidad de culturas, identidades, memorias, sabidurias y cosmovisiones que nos atraviesan cotidianamente, tanto en lo personal como en lo social y comunitario.

Los movimientos migratorios, tanto internos como externos, los del pasado y los del presente, van poniendo en evidencia estas diversidades. En medio de conflictividades y desarraigos, sin embargo, nuestras ciudades se van transformando en un entramado de encuentros y desencuentros que nos desafían como mujeres a esclarecer la mirada para descubrir las potencialidades latentes y germinales.

La fe y la esperanza nos convocan desde nuestras propias Tradiciones y Textos Sagrados a continuar abriendo senderos de vida y plenitud. Deseamos, pues, habilitar un dialogo profundo desde esos lugares donde nutrimos las diversas espiritualidades y misticas que sostienen nuestras sabidurias de mujeres.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

leaving Jesus behind

On the occasion of my thirty-fourth birthday

All my life I’ve lived with Jesus. But today I’m leaving him behind.

He has been my pattern; fractured by two thousand years, and the as yet divisions of black and white, boy or girl. I have not walked barefoot in desert dust. He does not hear the songs that shape my days. Yet all my life I’ve looked to him.

Our lives began in tears: him in a manger on a stable floor, me in a pram rocked by winter storms. We were childhood accomplices, testing out our independence, devouring texts in our hunger for other worlds.

In the summer we made friends, the kind that last lifetimes. We dared each other to step outside lines drawn in the dust. In wooden boats adrift in the waves, we clung to each together. And in the synagogues and cathedrals, we caused a storm.

Far from home, we lay awake in the dark, fretting what lay ahead. Friends and strangers anointed our head, feet and hands with scented oils and their tears. “Do justice, love kindness, walk humbly,” they urged us. We wondered whether we could keep our integrity without being judged naïve fools; until we accepted it was to this that we were called.

Lately, the days have been marked by conflict. We have struck out with hard words and upturned tables. Anger drives us beyond ourselves. We march in silence down the streets of London, and with whistles and drums in Edinburgh. And push hope to its limits.

Today I sit counting my grey hairs, worn out by this nomadic life. I am ready to put away my passport, and unpack for the last time.

But he is rest-less, and he shakes at our ordered life, and troubles those who rule. And for such things he was killed.

I lost him at thirty-three. Yet he remains my commitment and hope, my fresh eyes and clear voice, my testing friendships and dizzying loves.

Jesus, stay with me.

(Luke 3.23 records the tradition that, "Jesus, when he began his ministry, was about thirty years of age," and from John's gospel comes the belief that Jesus' ministry lasted three years until he was killed.)

Saturday, October 13, 2007

san telmo colours

Cátedra Carnahan 2007: Ivone Gebara 3

We are the last to arrive on the earth and the first to destroy it.

In her final lecture, Ivone Gebara explored the gendered connections between nature and humanity, or humanity within nature. She pointed out the wide ranging and contradictory uses of 'natural' to either justify 'natural' order or behaviour (such as when conservative Christians say "Homosexuality is unnatural") or to establish hierarchies between humans, that is those with 'culture', and 'nature' (in which women are seem as closer to nature, or as Carol J. Adams commented, women are judged 'neither man nor beast').

Like the land, women's bodies are seen as objects to be invaded and subdued. Men, she suggested, are socialized to be conquerors, to be conquistadores over and over.

Ivone highlighted the boundaries between dirt and cleanliness. Keeping the home clean is a task that has traditionally fallen to women. Women's responsibility to tidy up mess extends beyond the home, even to the requirement that they clean up emotional mess and relationship disorder. Ivone reminded us that those with power and money create mess, waste and rubbish. Those without, live within and from that rubbish. I know this because I hear it happening each night around the bins outside my window. The cartoneros continue to clean up and recycle my rubbish. I wonder whether the "plastic-bag-free towns" movement taking hold of people's imagination in England has power to spread around the world.

In their responses Heike Walz and Nancy Bedford spoke of polluting or toxic theologies. Toxic understandings of God pollute our lives, causing us to breath in dangerous harmful ideas about who we are and where God has placed us in the world. They are killing us.

We didn't talk about Al Gore and the Nobel Peace Prize for raising awareness about climate change. But I wondered about all the many environmental groups and activists who have worked and worked for decades trying to protect the earth.

Blessed are we when we
sing your praises
and walk faithfully on
your earth.

Blessed are we when we
proclaim your justice
and enjoy together the fruits
of creation.

Blessed are we when we
are guided by your wisdom
and live in harmony with
your world.

from Christian Aid

Cátedra Carnahan 2007: Ivone Gebara 2

The second of Ivone Gebara's lectures focused on theology and gender. Ivone reiterated her distrust of an absolute, all powerful God. We have understood God to have the power to punish or save us, to love or reject us. We live under the gaze of this absolute being, always being judged.

Ivone asked us to risk seeing God differently: God with us. God who is our relationship between and within ourselves. God is always more than we can imagine, yet that does not mean God is set against us.

Alongside other feminist theologians, Ivone criticized those understandings of God that suggest Jesus death was a necessary sacrifice to placate an jealous, wrath-filled God. She urged us to resist such 'necrophile beliefs' and the cult of sacrifice.

With such warnings in my ears, I read online about the unveiling of the war memorial in Lichfield, England for members of the armed forces who have died in war or conflict since the second world war. Underneath the picture reproduced in this post, was this comment:
The names of 16,000 members of the armed forces are carved into the memorial. There is room for another 15,000 to be added.

Tell me, how much of a society inthralled with sacrifice have we become, that we can so easily accept that the death and despair of war will continue at the same, or greater, pace as it is now?

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Cátedra Carnahan 2007: Ivone Gebara 1

Brazilian feminist theologian Ivone Gebara is giving the Carnahan Lectures this year on the theme of 'From gender, a new world is possible.'

Last night she focused on the mutual construction of ideas of gender and science, philosophy and history. Gender, she noted, is intimately bound up in the development of ideas and art, and is always changing.

As usual, Ivone encouraged us to move beyond fixed identities of male and female, straight or gay, black of white. As humans in relation, we are constantly shifting and responding.

She pointed out that moves to strengthen gender identities tend to reinforce cultural beliefs about correct behaviour. Reproaches over un-ladylike actions for example, or notions of women's work, or what is acceptable for a man to wear. There is a fear of loss of some essentialist notion of maleness or femaleness.

Ivone suggested women have a more fixed identity than men, pointing out that motherhood is seen as women's natural vocation. Yet there is not corresponding 'natural' vocation for men. Men can 'naturally' be many things.

Finally she warned against arriving. We are not seeking new improved gender roles or a fixed model of God. We are seeking openness and flexibility in our relationships. Who I am, who you are, who God is. All these are constant questions and ongoing conversations.

Conference: Género Economía Violencia - day 3

A great portent appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. She was pregnant and was crying out in birth pangs, in the agony of giving birth. Then another portent appeared in heaven: a great red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and seven diadems on his heads. His tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth. Then the dragon stood before the woman who was about to bear a child, so that he might devour her child as soon as it was born.And she gave birth to a son, a male child, who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron. But her child was snatched away and taken to God and to his throne; and the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, so that there she can be nourished for one thousand two hundred sixty days.

Susana Chiara offered a re-reading of Revelation 12:1-6 which describes a cosmic battle between a mother seeking to protect her new-born and a great dragon. Susana asked us to read the passage alongside the struggle of the Madres de la Plaza de Mayo (the mothers of the disappeared). We listened to the testimony of F. whose son had been killed by the military dicatorship:
In my view, the dragon devoured him; but not completely since his memory continues. All A. did in his life is present in the lives of the people that knew him. So they didn’t devour him completely, his work is left for others to continue. In my interpretation, the dragon is the bad people who killed A. and later killed my husband as well, because all this damaged my husband and he died.

Conference: Género Economía Violencia - day 2

Day 2 of the Conference began with worship during which we listened to the following story, before being invited to select and consider just one word of the passage:
From there he set out and went away to the region of Tyre. He entered a house and did not want anyone to know he was there. Yet he could not escape notice, but a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit immediately heard about him, and she came and bowed down at his feet. Now the woman was a Gentile, of Syrophoenician origin. She begged him to cast the demon out of her daughter. He said to her, "Let the children be fed first, for it is not fair to take the children's food and throw it to the dogs." But she answered him, "Sir, even the dogs under the table eat the children's crumbs." Then he said to her, "For saying that, you may go, the demon has left your daughter." So she went home, found the child lying on the bed, and the demon gone. (Mark7.24-30)

We talked about how Jesus and the woman meet on the borders between man and woman, Judea and Tyre, insider and outsider. And how even Jesus seems trapped within the boxes and roles assigned to him. But, the passage tells us, the woman answered him. She resists, refusing to be 'kept in her place.' With one word, 'even' she announces the possibility of change. Her transgressive action enables Jesus to meet her on new ground.

In the afternoon, members of the Toba community, an indigenous group from the Chaco that spans the boundaries of Argentina, Paraguay and Bolivia, talked about their relationship with the land and the gospel. At times, Margarita fell silent as she struggled to tell us of the destruction of her people through violence and economic marginalization, through cultural oppression and the taking of land. Early missionaries has used the Bible's promises of land and heaven as a means to persuade the Toba to give up their land to European settlers. Yet, Margarita was able to tell us of new readings of the Bible through the monthly ecumenical Bible School that ISEDET supports. The Toba people had been able to identify with Abraham and the promises made to him - promises of land, of descendants and of God's presence. The promise that there will descendants, Margarita told us, gives the Toba people courage that they will not disappear. The same book, the same community but two different readings. How can we ensure our readings of the Bible are life giving for all, particularly those marginalized?

We ended the day with a photo exhibition on women traders at Asuncion's fruit and vegetable markets. Mabel Avila, a Columbian photographer based in Asunción, Paraguay, told us about the long tiring days of the women she had photographed. Too poor to rent a permanent stand at the market, they walked from early morning to late at night, using their bodies as a stall for the fruit and vegetables they sold. Despite this, the women looked into the camera with strength and smiles, determined to survive in the heat and dust of their daily lives.

Image of Doris Salcedo’s Shibboleth at Tate Modern.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Conference: Género Economía Violencia - day 1

It's a busy week at ISEDET. Wednesday to Friday we have Ivone Gebara giving the Carnahan Lectures. And this evening the 2nd Conference on Gender and Economics began, focusing on violence and how it relates to economic and gender inequalities.

The conference began with a presentation on the World Council of Church's Decade to Overcome Violence, and details from the World Health Organization's campaign against violence - which they see as the primary threat to global health. The World Health Organization launched the first World report on violence and health on October 3rd, 2002.

In the group discussions, I noticed two words over and over: Justice and Dignity. My tendency is to be suspicious of the church and it's record on women and our wellbeing. So it's good to be reminded that sometimes the church is the space where women find the support and encouragement to say "Enough." Several women who had experienced violent home situations recalled how Christian teaching on the dignity of every person as children of God had helped them challenge abuse. It was good to hear that the church can and does offer hope and healing. It would be even better if this was always so.

Within the description of the "good wife" in Proverbs (a text feminist biblical scholars have tussled with) it is heartening to read:
Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come. (Proverbs 31.25)

Amen, May it be so!

Thursday, October 04, 2007

a handful of theology blogs

With so many blogs, sometimes a few recommendations help.

New Testament Gateway blog

Who: Mark Goodacre, formerly of University of Birmingham, now at Duke University in the States. The New Testament Gateway is one of the best resources for biblical studies on the web.
When: several posts per week-day
What: New Testaments studies and teaching: links to current hot topics on other blogs and elsewhere; quick, clear information about journals, conferences, new books; work in progress entries on his own research;
Why I like it: up to the minute; generous in his critique of other's opinions (there's nothing worse than vicious bloggers!!); interesting reflections on his own teaching methods and classes - a true reflective practitioner!

Faith and Theology
Who: Ben Myers from the University of Queensland, with regular guest posts from others, including Kim Fabricius, minister at Bethel United Reformed Church, Swansea, Wales.
When: several posts per week-day
What: reformed theology, especially Barth and other nineteenth century German theologians; contemporary theologians, mainly from Europe, USA and Australia; book reviews; hymns, jokes, and short reflections and quotes; clear summaries and introductions to mayor theologians and theological works
Why I like it: a real love of theological study shines through the posts; the summaries and series on e.g. Barth's Church Dogmatics are fresh and helpful; Kim Fabricius's "ten propositions” series.

One Hand Clapping
Who: Julie Clawson, Illinois.
When: daily. Julie also occasionally blogs on the Christian Century blog, Theolog
What: emerging church, with a focus on theology rather than liturgy; social justice and living ethically
Why I like it: again, well written posts that draw you into her theological questioning of books, church or daily routine; reflections on the journey from a more conservative faith to a feminist and justice commitment.

The Faith Between Us
Who:Peter Bebergal and Scott Korb, a conversation between friends, one Jew, one Roman Catholic about belief and unbelief. Based on the East coast of USA. Scott was at Union at the same time as me.
When: a new blog, accompanying the book of the same name, currently every few days.
What: faith, doubts and life in between; religion in the media, book world and academia; faith in daily life.
Why I like it: well written; the sense of listening in on a long standing conversation; windows into the wider literary world of the states.

Worship at Union
Who: Troy Messenger! Union's worship convener
When: a new blog, but currently weekly posts
What: critical reflection on Union's weekday worship, including mini-video summaries.
Why I like it: creativity, diversity and passion; inspiration and resources for inclusive committed worship.

A brief observation: The popular academic theology blogs seem to be dominated by male bloggers. In contrast, spirituality and emerging church focused blogs are more of a mix. Do the academic theology blogs reflect the academic theology scene?

Monday, October 01, 2007

theology and literature

Theology and literature go way back: books and the Book, stories - our's and God's, narrative theology, novels that sound the depths of the divine, new canons of belief, Hebrew poetry, genres, literary criticism...

Feminists too have historically used novels and poetry to express their ideas, often finding a space in literature that was closed to them in the formal arenas of philosophy or politics. Think Alice Walker's The Color Purple, Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God, Kate Chopin's The Awakening, Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale, Doris Lessing's The Golden Notebook... Plus Gloria Anzaldúa's efforts to expand the shape of feminist discourse.

It should not come as a shock then, that literature is one of the themes of my thesis, specifically novels by contemporary Latin American women writers.

The surprise for me was the discovery of a particular conversation between novelists of the 1960s and 1970s and the emerging liberation theology movement. The best introduction to this interaction is Luis N. Rivera-Pagán (2002) Essays from the Diaspora Mexico: El Faro, particularly his essay, "Myth, Utopia, and Faith: Theology and Culture in Latin America.” pp.9-36.

Love and death, solidarity and violence, are all expressed in the Latin American ‘imaginary recreation of reality that is our literature’ (Rivera-Pagán 2002:31), he notes, referring to the development of magical realism in Latin America novels.

I was particularly interested in the discovery of Peruvian novelist José María Arguedas' impact on the young Gustavo Gutiérrez. A Theology of Liberation (spanish version) begins with a quote from Arguedas' Todas las sangres and is dedicated to him. Rivera-Pagán comments, "Arguedas faced like maybe no other Latin American writer, the labyrinthine and conflictive relations between the different ethnias, cultures, languages and spiritual traditions in the Andes" (19). Both books illustrated the tear between violent reality and the hope of peace. Like Gutierrez, Arguedas saw a conflict between the God of the landowners and God of the poor.

Their conversation in print actually began ten years earlier in Arguedas novel El zorro de arriba y el zorro de abajo (1969)
In the summer of 1969, Arguedas recognizes with horror that his novel goes nowhere. This means that his aspiration to bring justice and peace, to overcome centuries of tragic violence and oppression, by a literary reconstruction of reality flounders into catastrophic failure. (21)

Within the novel-diary, the writer shifts from hope and solidarity to hate and fear. In that moment another character, ‘Gustavo,’ emerges and is challenged by the despairing novelist to proclaim a God of liberation. With that, Arguedas killed himself. "This is a book that begins with a discussion of suicide, ends with a suicide note, and is signed with the author's own dead body." comments Jon at Post-hegemony.

Latin America feminist theologians have also bent their ear to the insights of other writers. Elsa Tamez draws on ancient mythological stories. Marcella Althaus-Reid (2003) engages with works by Latin America writers such as Alejandra Pizarnik and Federico Andahazi. Ivone Gebara (2002) draws insights from the diary of Carolina Maria de Jesus and the work of Juana Inés de la Cruz.

My theme of violence against women is present in a number of Latin American novels. Isabel Allende deals directly with the violence of the Pinochet years in Chile, as well as violence against women in the home and in situations of migration. Ana Castillo from Mexico considers women’s spirituality of survival in violent contexts, including death and madness. Julia Alvarez records women’s resistance to the Dominican Republic military dictatorship. Laura Esquivel’s most recent novel, Malinche, explores the conquest of Latin America. Regina Rheda writes about economic marginalization in Brazil. And Marcela Serrano considers shelter spaces for women.

Such novels give voice to women's lives. They expose the violence struggled against. They pass on subtle tips, hints and strategies for survival. And they celebrate and recreate women’s resistance.