The Other within Us: Feminist Explorations of Women and Aging

By Marilyn Pearsall | Go to book overview

19
MIRROR OF STRENGTH
Portrait of Two Chilean Arpilleristas

Marjorie Agosin

Translated by Cola Franzene

The arpillera is a wall hanging, a small simple scene constructed from scraps of cloth appliquéd onto a backing cloth, often of burlap. The word for burlap in Spanish is arpillera, hence the name given to the wall hanging. The women who make them are called arpilleristas.

The arpilleras made in Santiago as a way for poor women to earn a little money have evolved into a surprising political phenomenon. Workshops to make them were set up in 1974 -- some months after the coup that overthrew the Socialist government of Salvador Allende -- by the Vicary of Solidarity. The vicary, an organization of the Catholic Church particularly concerned with human rights and with helping those in most need, operates under the special protection of the Cardinal of Santiago.

Women began to make arpilleras that showed their own lives under Pinochet's dictatorship: the houses in the shantytowns, the church, the little school, the common water faucet often X'd out to show lack of water. Hunger: empty pots, empty bowls. Unemployment: closed and shuttered factories, lines in front of the unemployment office. The disappeared: empty chairs, empty rooms, a picture of the disappeared one with question marks embroidered all around. Political terror: arrests, beatings, burials.

-243-

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The Other within Us: Feminist Explorations of Women and Aging
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Introduction 1
  • Notes 16
  • Part One - Situating 17
  • 1 - The Double Standard of Aging 19
  • 2 - Portnoy's Mother's Complaints 25
  • 3 - The Plight of Older Black Women 37
  • References 41
  • 4 - The Feminization of Poverty Among the Elderly 43
  • Notes 54
  • 5 - Older Women in the City 57
  • Notes 68
  • Part Two - Problematizing 71
  • 6 Friends or Foes - Gerontological and Feminist Theory 73
  • Notes 91
  • References 91
  • 7 Heresy in the Female Body - The Rhetorics of Menopause 95
  • Notes 110
  • References 110
  • 8 Gender, Race, and Class - Beyond the Feminization of Poverty in Later Life 113
  • Notes 119
  • References 119
  • 9 - The View from Over the Hill 121
  • Notes 134
  • 10 - Adult Daughters and Care for the Elderly 135
  • Notes 146
  • 11 What Setting Limits May Mean - A Feminist Critique of Danielcallahan's Setting Limits 151
  • Notes 158
  • References 159
  • Part Three - Representing 161
  • 12 Sunset Boulevard - Fading Stars 163
  • Notes 175
  • 13 - Remembering Our Foremothers Older Black Women, Politics of Age, Politics of Survival as Embodied in the Novels of Toni Morrison 177
  • Notes 193
  • 14 Visible Difference - Women Artists and Aging 197
  • Notes 214
  • 15 - Time Will Tell 221
  • Part Four - Privileging 227
  • 16 - Toward Another Dimension . . . 229
  • 17 - Indian Summer 233
  • 18 - In the Heat of Shadow 239
  • 19 - Mirror of Strength Portrait of Two Chilean Arpilleristas 243
  • 20 - The Space Crone 249
  • 21 - Serenity and Power 253
  • Notes 273
  • Credits 275
  • About the Book and Editor 277
  • About the Contributors 279
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