Oshun's Daughters: The Search for Womanhood in the Americas
Examines the ways in which the inclusion of African diasporic religious practices serves as a transgressive tool in narrative discourses in the Americas.
Oshun’s Daughters examines representations of African diasporic religions from novels and poems written by women in the United States, the Spanish Caribbean, and Brazil. In spite of differences in age, language, and nationality, these women writers all turn to variations of traditional Yoruba religion (Santería/Regla de Ocha and Candomblé) as a source of inspiration for creating portraits of womanhood. Within these religious systems, binaries that dominate European thought—man/woman, mind/body, light/dark, good/evil—do not function in the same way, as the emphasis is not on extremes but on balancing or reconciling these radical differences. Involvement with these African diasporic religions thus provides alternative models of womanhood that differ substantially from those found in dominant Western patriarchal culture, namely, that of virgin, asexual wife/mother, and whore. Instead we find images of the sexual woman, who enjoys her body without any sense of shame; the mother, who nurtures her children without sacrificing herself; and the warrior woman, who actively resists demands that she conform to one-dimensional stereotypes of womanhood.
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African American African descent African diasporic African diasporic religions Afro-Brazilian Afro-Cuban ancestors Audre Audre Lorde Aurelia beauty believe body Brazil Brazilian Candomblé Caribbean Celia Chaviano Conceição continues critical Cuba Cuban culture Cypress Daína Chaviano daughter Dominican eleggua enslaved Africans Erinle erotic Eshu Evaristo father Felicia female Gaia Gaia’s García healing heritage human husband Iansã identified identity Iliana Indigo interaction island literature lives Lorde Lorde’s Lourdes lover Lucumí Lucumí religion María Esteves mirror mother Nancy Morejón narrative narrator notes novel Ntozake Shange Nuyorican one’s orishas orixás Oshun Oxum Parente Cunha patriarchal Pérez Pilar poems poet poetic voice poetry Ponciá practices practitioners present priestess protagonist Puerto Rican reader recognizes Regla de Ocha relationship religious system reveals Revolution Sandra María Esteves Santería Sassafrass sense sexual Shange slave spiritual entities spiritual systems stanza underscores Vicêncio woman womanhood writes Xangô Yoruba religion