Mujeres mediterráneas -
Digital Librery

Women in the Mediterranean Mirror - Les femmes dans le miroir méditerranéen

16th November 2006

The metaphors of the Mediterranean have been many throughout history, as have the perceptions of this interior sea that, today, is seen as a bridge or as a frontier depending on the discourse you wish to present in relation with the problematics of the countries surrounding it.

We have preferred to use the metaphor of the mirror to present the current Quaderns de la Mediterrània-Euromed issue, which we have called “Women, Visibility and Participation”, because of the evocative power of the reflection of the images in water: images that in turbulent moments are usually seen as distorted but that, when the sea is calm, are clear and realistic. Reverberation of lights and sounds which come together in the different cultural imaginaries.

It has been, above all, the anthropologists who have used the specular oppositions between North and South, especially Ernst Gellner (“mirrored”), to talk of inverted images between the Christianity of the North and the Islam of the South, as well as other sociological oppositions. Undoubtedly, we can find these oppositions in the Mediterranean, but many long-term shared practices also take place and, in recent decades, through the unstoppable town development, the expansion of the media and the growing individualization also show greater similarity. We find many of these shared practices reflected on both shores related to women.

Does the Mediterranean act as a mirror that inverts the mutual images? Undoubtedly, the Mediterranean has throughout history reproduced the scenario of confrontations and opposed powers and ideologies. But its space contains a history full of cultural exchanges and blending which are, finally, those which will serve to enable us to meet again if we are finally capable of reinterpreting our history and of seeing our respective heritage as a shared value.

Women in the diverse Mediterranean cultures have been referents of important cultural goods which they have transmitted through time, such as language, beliefs, oral literature, as well as ecological and artistic knowledge. Moreover, thanks to education and training, women have been able to invigorate the business, political, scientific, academic and cultural world over the last few decades. But the status of women on the southern shore is growing very slowly, not only because of mentalities, but also because of lack of resources and real political will.

In Europe, until well into the 20th century, women had not achieved full citizenship rights and, sometimes, the legislation has brought about a retreat in historical moments, to say nothing of the inertia of the patriarchate...

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-  Rethinking Media Representations of Immigrant Women Mary Nash

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-  The European Commission Supports Mediterranean Women: Three Tales about Making a Difference Rafael Dochao

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