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Translated Woman: Crossing the Border with Esperanza's Story Paperback – Deluxe Edition, May 15, 2003

ISBN-13: 004-6442046473 ISBN-10: 0807046477 Edition: Second Edition

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Beacon Press; Second Edition edition (May 15, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807046477
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807046470
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #298,258 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

When Cuban American anthropologist Ruth Behar tried to piece together the lives led by women in one Mexican village, she didn't reckon on the stubborn magnetism of Esperanza, who "seemed determined to push her story into my hands and stuff it into my ears, so I could take it back across the border." Translated Woman is a giddy rush of dramatic words from Esperanza herself talking late into the night about the hardships and triumphs of her life. Having barely fled the wrath of her drunken father, she takes up with a philandering wife-beater who keeps her in the Mexican version of purdah, complete with a scolding mother-in-law. Looming starvation and the loss of child after child, which she ascribes to the coraje (rage) her worthless husband riles up in her breast, impels her to leave him. Gradually she carves out enough work as a street peddler to support herself and her children. Great turns of phrase from Behar and Esperanza enliven this unusual account. Skirting volatile feuds between neighbors, Behar worries lest her research get mired in "a nest of old hatreds." Says Esperanza of being penniless, "I almost had to use one hand to cover my front and another hand to cover my back." --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

In 1985 Behar, a feminist anthropologist working in Mexico, befriended street peddler Esperanza Hernandez, an Indian rumored to be a witch--townspeople claimed she used black magic to blind her ex-husband after he had regularly battered her and then left her for his mistress. In Behar's novelistic telling of Esperanza's life story, we meet a macha woman whose arrogance alienated her own mother, and whom Behar implausibly casts as a feminist heroine. Esperanza, who found redemption in a spiritist cult built around Pancho Villa, blames her pent-up rage for the deaths in infancy of the first six of her 12 children. She beat up her husband's lover and threw one of her sons out of the household; she also beat a daughter for refusing to support her and disowned another son for having what she considered an incestuous affair with his uncle's ex-mistress. Behar, who teaches at the University of Michigan, strains to find parallels between her own experience as a Cuban immigrant and that of her bellicose subject. Photos.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Bob Newman VINE VOICE on July 19, 2003
Format: Paperback
Esperanza, a poor Mexican street peddlar, is befriended by Ruth, an American anthropologist with Cuban-Jewish roots during the course of Ruth�s fieldwork in Mexico. They become friends, comadres, and Ruth decides to tell Esperanza�s story. Questions arise. Why does Esperanza want to tell Ruth the whole story of her life ? Why does Ruth decide to record it? In what format will Ruth present that story so that North American readers can understand it ? How will Ruth place that story into the framework of the anthropological profession or into the feminist discourse ? Does she have to do that in a traditional way ? Does Ruth have the right to Esperanza's story ? Is she exploiting Esperanza, who, after all, can never come to the USA in person except, in the most unlikely of circumstances, as a servant ? (Ruth can drive down to Mexico more or less at will.) Yes, of course it is Ruth who poses all these questions and then answers them.
The result of these questions is a very interesting and iconoclastic book, which, though at times difficult to read, clearly raises many questions. TRANSLATED WOMAN might be called the archetype of a modern anthropological creation because 1) the author does not hide behind the curtains, but places herself in the center along with the subject and 2)like current Anthropology as a field, it is so full of self-doubt, both personal and professional, that a reader perceives more questions than answers, the main one being, �if Ruth were so full of guilt and indecision about the merits of such a study, why didn�t she just drop it ?� I, for one, thought that if she felt it were wrong, then she shouldn�t have continued, but if she did continue, then hand-wringing and meek self-castigating sentences were unnecessary.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By K. Baker on November 15, 2004
Format: Paperback
This book was amazing. It was a very easy read, not like many ethnographies. It was so refreshing to have the author sit back and let someone else (Esperanza) talk for the first part, to tell us her historia. I also enjoyed the last part, her reflejo, because it showed the reader that she, indeed, is a real person. In doing this I came to see the real process it takes to write an ethnography, all the dillemmas, situations and problems that arrise. Wonderful overall.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Iva Petrova on February 1, 2001
Format: Paperback
This is a beautiful narrative that crosses the boundaries of culture, class and gender to let the reader see life through the eyes of an uneducated Mexican woman. The authors tells the extraordinary story of Esperansa's life and the friendship she developed with her. (The author is a professor of anthropology at the University of Michigan).
In spite of the authors background, the style is rich and unique. The book would be easy read and very entertaining for people able to appreciate women's perceptions and spirituality in unprejudiced manner. I have very different backgound from both the writer and the main character and yet could relate to the story and the experience. It made me re-think my own cross cultural experiences and identity of a woman.
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7 of 11 people found the following review helpful By S. Kim on May 11, 2005
Format: Paperback
I was looking forward to reading this book after hearing so much about it from my colleagues. While it was an interesting approach to the subject matter (especially in what i assume is suppose to be an academic book), both Behar and the book get tedious.

Although I appreciate Behar's efforts to relate her life to Esperanza's, somehow the book ends us being about "me, me, me." She just goes on and on about how horrible Esperanza's life is, and how her life is very similar to it. It comes off as a bit of a stretch, especially since Behar is benefitting by writing about the struggles of this woman's life. The book is self-centered in a very subtle way. But, by the end of the book, I just didn't care anymore about what happened to Esperanze, Behar or the book.

There are both a lot of critics and advocates of this book. I wasn't able to for an opinion strong enough to join any of those two camps.
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