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  • About the Series ix

    Acknowledgments xi

    Introduction: Papelitos Guardados: Theorizing Latinidades Through Testimonio 1

    I. Geneaologies of Empowerment 25

    Certified Organic Intellectual / Aurora Levins Morales 27

    My Father’s Hands / Yvette Gisele Flores-Oritz 33

    Vignettes of a Working-Class Puerto Rican Girl in Brooklyn, New York / Celia Alvarez 39

    Silence Begins at Home / Patricia Zavella 43

    You Speak Spanish Because You Are Jewish? / Rina Benmayor 55

    Getting There Cuando No Hay Camino / Norma E. Cantú 60

    Reflection and Rebirth: The Evolving Life of a Latina Academic / Iris Ofelia López 69

    Mi Primera Amiguita: Carmelita / Gloria Holguín Cuádraz 86

    The House That Mamá Biela Built / Daisy Cocco de Filippis 90

    Lightning / Mirtha N. Quintanales 96

    My Name Is This Story / Aurora Levins Morales 100

    Resisting the Alcemy of Erasure: Journey to Labor Ideas / Clara Lomas 104

    Esta Risa No Es de Loca / Caridad Souza 114

    A Esconditas: A Chicana Feminist Teacher Who Writes/A Chicana Feminist Writer Who Teaches / Norma E. Cantú 123

    Canto de Mi Madre/Canto de Mi Padre / Inés Hernández Avila 132

    Daughter of Bootstrap / Luz del Alba Acevedo 139

    Beyond Survival: A Politics/Poetics of Puerto Rican Consciousness / Liza Fiol-Matta 148

    I Can Fly: Of Dreams and Other Nonfictions / Eliana Rivero 156

    II. Alchemies of Erasure 167

    The Christmas Present / Caridad Souza 169

    Snapshots from My Daze in School / Celia Alvarez 177

    Point of Departure / Mirtha N. Quintanales 185

    Another Way to Grow Up Puerto Rican / Liza Fiol-Matta 192

    El Beso / Ruth Behar 196

    The Prize of a New Cadillac / Yvette Gisele Flores-Ortiz 201

    La Tra(d)ición / Latina Anónima 204

    Between Perfection and Invisibility / Latina Anónima 207

    Diary of La Llorona with a Ph. D. / Gloria Holguín Cuádraz 212

    Welcome to the Ivory Tower / Latina Anónima 218

    I Still Don’t Know Why / Latina Anónima 224

    Lessons Learned from an Assistant Professor / Gloria Holguían Cuádraz 227

    Don’t You Like Being in the University? / Latina Anónima 229

    Temporary Latina / Ruth Behar 231

    Dispelling the Sombras, Grito mi nombre con rayos de luz / Inés Hernández Avila 238

    Biting Through / Latina Anónima 245

    Sand from Varadero Beach / Ruth Behar 247

    Speaking Among Friends: Whose Empowerment, Whose Resistance? / Luz del Alba Acevedo 250

    III. The Body Re/members 263

    Reading the Body / Norma E. Cantú 264

    Missing Body / Caridad Souza 266

    Malabareando/Juggling / Liza Fiol-Matta 269

    Migraine/Jacqueca / Norma E. Cantú 271

    The Wart / Daisy Cocco de Filippis 273

    Why My Ears Aren't Pierced / Ruth Behar 275

    Night Terrors / Latina Anónima 277

    La Princesa / Latina Anónima 286

    Forced by Circumstance / Norma Alarcón 289

    Let Me Sleep / Latina Anónima 291

    Depression / Mirtha N. Quintanales 293

    Desde el Diván: Testimonios from the Couch / Yvette Giselle Flores-Ortiz 294

    Telling to Live: Devoro la Mentira, Resucitando Mi Ser / Inés Hernández Avila 298

    IV. Passion, Desires, and Celebrations 303

    Shameless Desire / Aurora Levins Morales 305

    La Cosa / Ruth Behar 307

    Boleros / Eliana Rivero 309

    A Working-Class Bruja’s Fears and Desires / Norma E. Cantú 314

    Aún / Yvette Gisele Flores-Ortiz 318

    The Names I Used to Call Your/The Names I Do Call You / Eliana Rivero 319

    Plátanos and Palms / Rina Benmayor 321

    Three Penny Opera or Eve’s Symphony in B Minor / Daisy Cocco de Filippis 323

    Descubrimiento(s) / Celia Alvarez 327

    Entre Nosotras / Latina Anónima 331

    Pisco and Cranberry / Eliana Rivero 334

    De lo que es Amor; de lo que es Vida / Inés Hernández Avila 336

    Eating Mango / Liza Fiol-Matta 344

    Everyday Grace / Mirtha N. Quintanales 345

    Tenemos que Swguir Luchando / Patricia Zavella 348

    Select Bibliography 357

    About the Authors 373
  • Winner, 2002 Gustavus Myers Outstanding Book Award

    Winner, 2004 Critics’ Choice Award, American Educational Studies Association

  • Telling to Live may be one of the most important books published in the last few decades. Latinas collectively have not had a book like this before that features so many different backgrounds and cultures. . . . The inclusion of all these mix-and-match identifications is what qualifies this book to be required reading in women’s studies classes all across the globe. . . . Even if you are not of Latin descent, anyone who identifies with hardship and triumph in their own lives will connect with Telling to Live. Que vivan las Feministas Latinas!”

    “[A] solid collection of writings that bear witness to history and society through the revelations of personal and professional experiences. . . . [C]hallenging, thought-provoking, and sometimes painful pieces on the topics of empowerment; measure; the body and memory; and passion and celebrations. . . . [T]his book is recommended for all academic and general libraries.”

    “[G]roundbreaking. . . . [It] should be required reading for all women’s studies, American studies, and American history students. Highly recommended for public and academic libraries.”

    “It is a bold political statement that recognizes the complexity of Latina identities; a statement, moreover, that dares to challenge the assumptions about what constitutes knowledge in the academy.”

    “The … textual space challenges both the opinions and labels, held by members of the group and by outsiders, that ultimately devalue the individuals. Testimonio has allowed the academics of Telling to Live to achieve their multilateral objectives….”

    "[A] collection of vivid first-person narratives and short stories, poignantly candid family snapshots, poems, taxonomies, and dialogues. . . . This is a vividly concrete reminder of the spaces these Latina women are attempting to negotiate or to bridge; as they acknowledge, ‘we must walk the fine line of contestation and complicity.’ . . . [T]he volume stands as an alternately chilling and inspiring monument to the women who wrote it, and to the many others who made that writing possible."

    "[A] complex view of the differing social, racial and economic histories which are too often erased under the umbrella terms Latina and Chicana."

    "[A] moving account of these women's life stories. They eloquently write about their struggles to overcome pain and abuse, to achieve success in their personal and professional lives, and of their discovery of a profound sense of sisterhood. . . . All of the writings are informative about the diversity of Latina perspectives. . . . This book should hold wide appeal for students of Women's Studies, American Studies, Latino/a and Ethnic Studies, and the general reader interested in the experience of Latinas in the United States!"

    "[A] rare and important collection of autobiographical narratives, snapshots, short stories, poems, and dialogues."

    "[A]n excellent basis for a seminar or reading group on women and gender in Latin America. . . . [A] fascinating document."

    "[P]oignant. . . . Insofar as accomplishing their stated goal, to explore the complex intersections of race, class, gender, nationality, ethnicity, and sexuality with regard to coalition building, Telling to Live is a highly successfully undertaking. . . . [A] laudable enterprise with far-reaching implications for those of us hoping to one day embark upon similar paths paved by the trail-blazing accomplishments of these testimoniadoras."

    "In this unprecedented volume, the Latina feminist group successfully shape narratives that make women's lives accessible to multiple audiences and give meaning to lived experiences that are often erased. . . . [A] fascinating and challenging read."

    Awards

  • Winner, 2002 Gustavus Myers Outstanding Book Award

    Winner, 2004 Critics’ Choice Award, American Educational Studies Association

  • Reviews

  • Telling to Live may be one of the most important books published in the last few decades. Latinas collectively have not had a book like this before that features so many different backgrounds and cultures. . . . The inclusion of all these mix-and-match identifications is what qualifies this book to be required reading in women’s studies classes all across the globe. . . . Even if you are not of Latin descent, anyone who identifies with hardship and triumph in their own lives will connect with Telling to Live. Que vivan las Feministas Latinas!”

    “[A] solid collection of writings that bear witness to history and society through the revelations of personal and professional experiences. . . . [C]hallenging, thought-provoking, and sometimes painful pieces on the topics of empowerment; measure; the body and memory; and passion and celebrations. . . . [T]his book is recommended for all academic and general libraries.”

    “[G]roundbreaking. . . . [It] should be required reading for all women’s studies, American studies, and American history students. Highly recommended for public and academic libraries.”

    “It is a bold political statement that recognizes the complexity of Latina identities; a statement, moreover, that dares to challenge the assumptions about what constitutes knowledge in the academy.”

    “The … textual space challenges both the opinions and labels, held by members of the group and by outsiders, that ultimately devalue the individuals. Testimonio has allowed the academics of Telling to Live to achieve their multilateral objectives….”

    "[A] collection of vivid first-person narratives and short stories, poignantly candid family snapshots, poems, taxonomies, and dialogues. . . . This is a vividly concrete reminder of the spaces these Latina women are attempting to negotiate or to bridge; as they acknowledge, ‘we must walk the fine line of contestation and complicity.’ . . . [T]he volume stands as an alternately chilling and inspiring monument to the women who wrote it, and to the many others who made that writing possible."

    "[A] complex view of the differing social, racial and economic histories which are too often erased under the umbrella terms Latina and Chicana."

    "[A] moving account of these women's life stories. They eloquently write about their struggles to overcome pain and abuse, to achieve success in their personal and professional lives, and of their discovery of a profound sense of sisterhood. . . . All of the writings are informative about the diversity of Latina perspectives. . . . This book should hold wide appeal for students of Women's Studies, American Studies, Latino/a and Ethnic Studies, and the general reader interested in the experience of Latinas in the United States!"

    "[A] rare and important collection of autobiographical narratives, snapshots, short stories, poems, and dialogues."

    "[A]n excellent basis for a seminar or reading group on women and gender in Latin America. . . . [A] fascinating document."

    "[P]oignant. . . . Insofar as accomplishing their stated goal, to explore the complex intersections of race, class, gender, nationality, ethnicity, and sexuality with regard to coalition building, Telling to Live is a highly successfully undertaking. . . . [A] laudable enterprise with far-reaching implications for those of us hoping to one day embark upon similar paths paved by the trail-blazing accomplishments of these testimoniadoras."

    "In this unprecedented volume, the Latina feminist group successfully shape narratives that make women's lives accessible to multiple audiences and give meaning to lived experiences that are often erased. . . . [A] fascinating and challenging read."

  • Telling to Live is a groundbreaking text—important in its outreach, inclusiveness, and power—that expands, qualifies, complicates, and illuminates the ground of our discourse the way the best texts do—through transformative narratives, stories, and poems that resist the neat paradigms and –isms of our time. It is also a text that will fill an alarming gap in the academy, where silence or simplification of Latina perspectives still prevails.” — Julia Alvarez, author of, How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents

    “Twenty years after the publication of This Bridge Called My Back, this stunning collection of writings by Latina feminists raises the stakes of collaboration across race, class, nation, and sexuality. Telling to Live challenges prevailing research practices and forges a model of deep collaboration for future generations of scholars.” — Angela Y. Davis, author of, Blues Legacies and Black Feminism: Gertrude ‘Ma’ Rainey, Bessie Smith, and Billie Holiday

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  • Description

    Telling to Live embodies the vision that compelled Latina feminists to engage their differences and find common ground. Its contributors reflect varied class, religious, ethnic, racial, linguistic, sexual, and national backgrounds. Yet in one way or another they are all professional producers of testimonios—or life stories—whether as poets, oral historians, literary scholars, ethnographers, or psychologists. Through coalitional politics, these women have forged feminist political stances about generating knowledge through experience. Reclaiming testimonio as a tool for understanding the complexities of Latina identity, they compare how each made the journey to become credentialed creative thinkers and writers. Telling to Live unleashes the clarifying power of sharing these stories.
    The complex and rich tapestry of narratives that comprises this book introduces us to an intergenerational group of Latina women who negotiate their place in U.S. society at the cusp of the twenty-first century. These are the stories of women who struggled to reach the echelons of higher education, often against great odds, and constructed relationships of sustenance and creativity along the way. The stories, poetry, memoirs, and reflections of this diverse group of Puerto Rican, Chicana, Native American, Mexican, Cuban, Dominican, Sephardic, mixed-heritage, and Central American women provide new perspectives on feminist theorizing, perspectives located in the borderlands of Latino cultures.
    This often heart wrenching, sometimes playful, yet always insightful collection will interest those who wish to understand the challenges U.S. society poses for women of complex cultural heritages who strive to carve out their own spaces in the ivory tower.

    Contributors. Luz del Alba Acevedo, Norma Alarcón, Celia Alvarez, Ruth Behar, Rina Benmayor, Norma E. Cantú, Daisy Cocco De Filippis, Gloria Holguín Cuádraz, Liza Fiol-Matta, Yvette Flores-Ortiz, Inés Hernández-Avila, Aurora Levins Morales, Clara Lomas, Iris Ofelia López, Mirtha N. Quintanales, Eliana Rivero, Caridad Souza, Patricia Zavella

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