Date of Degree

6-2017

Document Type

Capstone Project

Degree Name

M.A.

Program

Liberal Studies

Advisor(s)

Nancy K. Miller

Subject Categories

Civil Rights and Discrimination | Cultural History | Ethics and Political Philosophy | Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies | Feminist Philosophy | Human Rights Law | Indigenous Studies | Political History | Visual Studies | Women's History

Keywords

Salem, Chiapas, Grassroots movements, Colonial studies, Analogue photography

Abstract

This project contrasts the lived experiences of feminists within the EZLN in Mexico with the historical persecution of community outsiders during the Salem witch trials. I want to explore the differences between a radical political and social movement (the EZLN), and the radical shift in history in which women were accused of witchcraft based on hysteria and rumors. There are parallels between the witch trials and the causes of the Zapatista movement in the ways that women's bodies were treated--their political usefulness to create fear and obedience from citizens by murdering them for their defiance, burying them in shallow graves. Although these women are from different regions, and these historical events took place hundreds of years apart, there are striking similarities. How has women's autonomy developed from the time of the Salem witch trials to the place of women in grassroots movements?

Women did not have rights to own land in the seventeenth century early colonies of the United States, and women who joined the Zapatistas movement sought autonomy and equality to take charge of their own bodies, their own lives. The peasant origins of women in the Chiapas region constellates the lack of power given to women of the seventeenth century, and the struggle for family owned land was at tension with political power and capital of land ownership. Going further into these parallels, I want to ask the following: What is the difference between the colonized and colonizers? Why are the female collaborators of the EZLN left out of the mainstream and not seen as leaders within the grassroots movement? Why were women the main targets for the Salem witch trials? How did the trials begin, and what made them cease or begin to fall away from the mainstream? Are these areas, the Chiapas in Mexico, and Salem, Massachusetts, in any way connected to the origins of these women's struggles and stories? In what ways can we look back in history, and connect these stories, and are women gaining equality, or have women achieved the autonomy they seek? Through these themes, I will be creating a series of analogue photographs which I will take, hand process the film, and make prints for in conversation with the themes of: the female body, reproduction, use of the body to control and manipulate, ties between women and nature, ritual, and objectification. How are cultural identity, time, and place echoed throughout history, in collective memory and in tying the past to the present?

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