Archive for the ‘writing’ tag
I was reminded recently of why I should share my undergraduate thesis. Janie, the intern at the Alaska Native Epidemiology Center, where I work, found online a Master’s Thesis about the very little researched topic of Iñupiaq women’s pregnancy and birthing beliefs and experience. This was very useful for the work we were doing. I felt grateful that this young student researcher shared his work publicly online. I told Janie about my student research and thesis, and she suggested I share it too. So here it is.
Despite having written this thesis 8 years ago and it containing some errors, and perhaps there being moments of naïeveté in my theory, I decided I should make it available because it is useful. It is original research that has not been published anywhere else, as far as I know. It brings together original research with feminists in Oaxaca and global human rights theory to make an argument about the need for dialogue about justice and gender justice across cultures. It makes an argument that I still stand strongly by and practice in my daily life and work, in ways beyond what I would have imagined when I wrote this as a 21-year-old.
This is my honor’s thesis from my senior year of college at Mount Holyoke College (2004), based on interviews I had conducted in the summer of 2003 in Oaxaca, México and a lot of immersion in history, feminist theory, sociology, political discourse, etc. Unfortunately, I have lost the cover page, which had a wood block print I made of downtown Oaxaca City, and I’ve lost the table of contents.
So, to give you a brief preview:
The introduction explains how I came to this topic and why it matters, and the theories behind it. It introduces why I think we need transcultural feminist dialogue in order to arrive at globally-valid concepts of justice and human rights.
The 1st chapter provides a history of feminism in México and its ties to other social justice movements there.
The 2nd chapter covers what I learned from the feminists at La Casa de la Mujer Rosario Castellanos, a feminist organization based in Oaxaca City. (Oaxaca City is the capital city of the state in México that has more ethnic diversity, in terms of indigenous groups, than any other state in the country.) This chapter discusses the organization’s work, how each woman became a feminist, how each woman conceives of the concept of justice, and how that translates into the feminist work she does.
The 3rd chapter uses the themes about feminism, gender justice, and justice that the women from La Casa de la Mujer brought up to make the argument that feminism arises organically out of everywhere. Because feminism arises out of different environments, it is necessarily different across cultures, countries, etc. At the same time, there is an “hilo conductor,” that is, a wire that connects all feminisms everywhere. This hilo conductor is the idea that we should be able to live lives with dignity and free of violence. Because feminism is both universal and grounded in the local, we need democratic, equitable, transcultural feminist dialogue in order to establish what about gender justice–and justice in general–is universal and what isn’t. That way, we can create human rights standards that people all over can buy into and feel a part of.
I sent this thesis to La Casa de la Mujer Rosario Castellanos in 2004. When I visited in 2005, they were almost done translating it into Spanish, so I got to assist with some of the translation. I have not returned to Oaxaca since, but when I do, I hope to find that is has been useful. And I hope that is is useful for you. If you do use it, here is a suggested citation (although when I wrote it, my last name was Norton-Cruz…):
Avellaneda-Cruz, Laura. (2004). Toward Global Justice: La Casa de la Mujer Rosario Castellanos and Transcultural Feminist Dialogue. Undergraduate Thesis, Mount Holyoke College. Retrieved online at author’s website: www.lauritadianita.info/?page_id=458
FULL PDF HERE:
Mi amor, Oscar Avellaneda (photo of us above–thanks to Clark James Mishler–, his websites below), loves to help people improve their lives through technology. He, like me, cannot help but teach the things he knows and cares about. So he set me up with this and now it is mine to figure out. He did this because I sit and I write and write to my friends and family. My dad calls them missives, not letters. They are basically blogs in e-mail form, so maybe I should put them somewhere.
I have done this since I was studying in Oaxaca, México my third year of college. One day in our cramped little computer lab at the school I got a long e-mail sent from my friend Serafina to all of her people back home. It detailed what she was experiencing and learning in Nicaragua, and it struck me as a brilliant idea. I wrote in my journal anyway–why not share that with the people I cared about? So I began. And it became, with time, the best way to think through the patterns of my everyday experiences in Oaxaca and Chiapas and to cement into my memory and hopefully into the memories of others the faces and colors I was seeing, the way copal looked and smelt drifting overhead in dark churches, the stories of the street children I hung out with, the way it felt to have assumptions placed on me as a white American woman in México, the bravery of my friends there, and what I learned about feminism.
After graduating from college and beginning to teach 3rd grade in East Palo Alto, California, writing to my people became a way to think through, confess, maybe purge myself of the guilt I felt for my many failures as a new teacher. It was also a way to honor my strengths and successes so that I could get up and go to my classroom the next day. Most importantly, it was a way to articulate the stories of my students in all of their grimness and hope. I was seeing the achievement gap up close. I was seeing why teaching is so hard. I was seeing the beautiful and largely untold-in-the-mainstream stories of immigrant children and families who must do so much to survive. I loved these little souls and wanted to honor their complexities by telling their stories. I had to put it to paper to view myself, this experience, and what I had to learn from this East Palo Alto community with the humility it deserved.
And so it continued, and now it will move into this forum, hopefully still addressing my friends and family and hopefully speaking to others.
His photography business: www.avephoto.com
His trip site: www.quehubo.info
His blog: www.okiave.info