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Historical Perspectives on Feminism and the Puerto Rican Woman La Mujer en la Lucha Hoy, Nancy A. Zayas and Juan Angel Silén, eds. (RÃ-o Piedras: Ediciones KikirikÃ-, 1972). The Puerto Rican Woman: Perspectives on Culture, History, and Society, Edna Acosta-Belén, ed. (1979, 2nd edition, New York: Praeger, 1986). Altagracia Ortiz Since the early 1970s, scholars in Puerto Rico and in the United States have been producing works that enable us today to present some insights into the history and expressions of feminism among Puerto Rican women. ' In 1972, Nancy S. Zayas and Juan Angel Silén edited an anthology entitled La Mujer en la Lucha Hoy (The Woman in Today's Struggle) that collected some of these works for the first time in Puerto Rico; in 1986, Edna Acosta-Belén edited the latest anthology of Puerto Rican feminist essays published in the United States under the title TAe Puerto Rican Woman: Perspectives on Culture, History, and Society.2 These two collections of essays are in themselves an example of the most recent development of feminism in Puerto Rico; they are also the clearest and most intensive statements that presently exist of feminist scholarship by Puerto Rican women. As with women studies scholars in other parts of the world, many of these contributors , as well as their editors, are concerned with the recovery and evaluation of the historical legacy of women to Puerto Rican history—a legacy which also includes the divergent roots of feminism itself. Most of the essays undertake with great earnestness the task of exposing the oppression that still affects almost all Puerto Rican women on the island and in the United States, and all of the entries are aimed at feminist consciousness raising in the hope that these women can more effectively demand a long-overdue share of personal respect and recognition, and fuU economic, poütical, and social equality. In general, the essays in these anthologies illuminate for us the major characteristics of the feminist movement in Puerto Rico and, to a much lesser degree, in the Hispanic communities in the United States; few of them, however, explore the impact of this movement on Puerto Rican society or on the lives of individual women. Some of the essays, though, do present a future agenda that caUs for a continued struggle on behalf of Puerto Rican women. Yet we are left with a haunting question: can Puerto Rican women achieve full equality in a territory that is still a colony of the United States? ©1989 JOURNAL OF WOMEN'S HISTORY, VOL. 1 NO. 2 (FALL) 1989 REVIEW: ALTAGRACIA ORTIZ 167 Notwithstanding the dilemma that this poses for many feminists in Puerto Rico, all are in agreement that the history of the Puerto Rican people must be more gender balanced and reflect the contributions that women have made to the development of the nation. This idea is embedded in the introductions to these anthologies and is particularly illustrated by the essays of Carmen Rivera de Alvarado, Isabel Picó, MarcÃ-a Rivera, Blanca Silvestrini, and Virginia Sánchez Korrol. The introductory essays by Silén/ Zayas and Acosta-Belén note the contributions of such illustrious and valiant women as Lola RodrÃ-guez de TÃ-o, Mariana Bracetti, Eduviges Beauchamp to the independence movement of 19th-century Puerto Rico, and of political and working-class organizers—namely Ana Roqué de Duprey, Luisa Capetillo, Concepción Torres, Juana Colón—to the suffrage and labor movements of the early 20th century.3 In the meantime, Rivera de Alvarado , inspired by Pedro Albizu Campos' belief that "la mujer es la madre fÃ-sica y moral de la nacionalidad" (the woman is the physical and spiritual mother of the nation), traces the role of these and other women to the development of a national identity and highlights in particular the activities of the women whom she classifies as the "vanguardia del nacionalismo feminismo" (nationalist feminist forefront), a group which included Blanca Canales, Juanita Ojeda, Doris Torresola, and Lolita Lebrón among others.4The essay by Isabel Picó in the Zayas/Silén anthology briefly covers the same material as these scholars' efforts at restoring women to history...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1527-2036
Print ISSN
1042-7961
Pages
pp. 166-178
Launched on MUSE
2010-03-25
Open Access
No
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