In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

Reviewed by:
  • Surviving in the Hour of Darkness: The Health and Wellness of Women of Colour and Indigenous Women
  • Swarna Weerasinghe
Sophie Harding , ed. Surviving in the Hour of Darkness: The Health and Wellness of Women of Colour and Indigenous Women. Calgary: University of Calgary Press, 2005. 314 pp. Notes. Photographs. $39.95 sc.

The aim of the book is to increase understanding of the determinants of health and well-being of women of colour and indigenous women. Sophie Harding's anthology builds on five essential principles that incorporate exploration, which includes both scientific inquiry and artistic mediums; the individual's communication strategies reflective of who they are and what they need; opportunities for hearing women's unfiltered voices; deconstruction of the barriers for women's health and well being; and, finally, the promotion of active participation of women of colour and indigenous women in health policy governance processes. The book is in two parts. The first part is devoted to scientific inquiries followed by a part with the most powerful, disheartening, yet true, stories expressed through poetry and essays by women who are struggling with numerous illnesses. The author recommends that the book be used as a resource in schools and health-care settings.

The anthology incorporates a wide spectrum of illnesses, both mental and physical, and upstream factors contributing to abuse, violence, smoking, drug abuse and even poverty, the most prominent determinant of ill health. Socio-cultural situations of "women of colour" illustrated in the articles include episodes of women from the [End Page 213] two prominent indigenous populations in Canada, Aboriginal and Black, as well as immigrant women from Africa, the Caribbean, Latin America, and South Asia. Though there is no specific mention of why these women were considered as "women of colour," the intention of assigning a "colour" can be an innocent attempt to assign dignity to the non-white-skinned women whose colour makes them vulnerable to racism and discrimination, on many fronts, including health-care settings. Throughout the book epic and emic perspectives are depicted in a normative format. Individual pieces are written in a powerful and dramatic use of language with carefully chosen words to convey the consequences of social deprivation and subsequent health effects of an extremely marginalized population of women. One of Harding's significant accomplishments in the book is the incorporation of variety in the translation of knowledge. The coverage of broad areas of illnesses and integration of different modes of presentation and communication add to the variety. Due to the unprecedented scale of this variety of coverage of the anthology, unfortunately, important aspects are spread too thin; as a result the necessary indepth explanations of essentials that one would expect in a healthcare resource guide have gone astray.

A diverse assortment of authors, renowned academics, community leaders, health-care professionals, policy makers, award-winning writers and poets from multiple disciplines (un)pack health within the anecdotes of social oppression, racism, and discrimination. The totality of health is depicted in a holistic framework. The writings allow the words to flow from the disheartened hearts, unedited, unfiltered, and unsolicited through the lenses of the dominant group. As a result of this management of the free flow, at times it is noticeable that the critical analyses (from an academic perspective) are missing and personal testimonials are accompanied with loaded statements. Though scientific jargon is absent, one can argue that strong recommendations have emerged from weak solitary arguments. Writers have attempted to demystify unforeseen social health issues of women of colour. The lack of accompanying research-based evidence in most of the writings (except in three pieces written by academics), that contextualize the pertinent issues faced by women of colour, weakens the valuable arguments put forward, and may not be acceptable as a resource in academic settings. The literature review in most of the writings, with the exception of three articles by renowned academics in part 1, is limited to a few government reports. Interlocking phenomena of gender and race in health have received an unprecedented place in social health research. Towards the end of the writings, in both parts, authors seem to relax the emphases on the gender, race and class framework...


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 213-215
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.