Fleshing the Spirit: Spirituality and Activism in Chicana, Latina, and Indigenous Women’s Lives
by Elisa Facio and Irene Lara
University of Arizona Press
Cover Art by Linda Vallejo
Standing Spirits, 1999
Acrylic on canvas
48 x 36 in.
from the collection of Paul Dillaway
Artist Statement by Linda Vallejo on page 263.
Fleshing the Spirit brings together established and new writers exploring the relationships between the physical body, the spirit and spirituality, and social justice activism. Examining the complex and dynamic connections among these concepts, the writers emphasize the value of “flesh and blood experience” as a site of knowledge. They argue that spirituality—something quite different from institutional religious practice—can heal the mind/body split and set the stage for social change. Spirituality, they argue, is a necessary component of an alternative political agenda focused on equitable social and ecological change.
The anthology incorporates different genres of writing—such as poetry, testimonials, critical essays, and historical analysis—and stimulates the reader to engage spirituality in a critical, personal, and creative way. This interdisciplinary work is the first that attempts to theorize the radical interconnection between women of color, spirituality, and social activism. Before transformative political work can be done, the authors say in multiple ways, we must recognize that our spiritual need is a desire to more fully understand our relations with others. Conflict experienced on many levels sometimes severs those relations, separating us from others along racial, class, gender, sexual, national, or other socially constructed lines.
Fleshing the Spirit offers a spiritual journey of healing, health, and human revolution. The book’s open invitation to engage in critical dialogue and social activism—with the spirit and spirituality at the forefront—illuminates the way to social change and the ability to live in harmony with life’s universal energies.
Elisa Facio is an associate professor in the Department of Ethnic Studies at the University of Colorado–Boulder. She is the author of Understanding Older Chicanas: Sociological and Policy Perspectives and co-editor of Enduring Legacies: Ethnic Histories and Cultures of Colorado.
Irene Lara is an associate professor of women’s studies at San Diego State University. Her work has been published in numerous academic journals, and she is the author of several book chapters, including “Healing Sueños for Academia” in This Bridge We Call Home: Radical Visions for Transformation.
“This is the first book that attempts to theorize the connection between the brown female body, spirituality, and social activism, or to argue that spirituality is a necessary component of an alternative political agenda.”—Edén E. Torres, author of Chicana Without Apology: The New Chicana Cultural Studies.
“Collectively these scholars provide us with a way to engage the idea of spirituality critically, personally, and creatively.”—Dolores Delgado Bernal, co-author of Chicana/Latina Education in Everyday Life: Feminista Perspectives on Pedagogy and Epistemology.
“This is one of the best books I’ve read all year.”—AnaLouise Keating, author of Transformation Now!: Toward a Post-Oppositional Politics of Change
Linda Vallejo: Artist Statement
Standing Spirits is a painting from the series Los Cielos completed in between 1995-2000. This body of work made up of over 50 paintings exemplified my experience in ceremony. The horizon line, the rising of the sun and setting of the moon were my inspiration….
Each year as we traveled down the rocky road to ceremony we could see the standing rock elders – tall, strong, and everlasting, reminding us of our ancestors and spirit guides. As we made the journey to complete our commitment we prayed to remember these standing spirits and to stand tall for our families, the earth, and the traditions.
In prayer we gazed skyward to see the standing spirits among the clouds – appearing and disappearing. Through our offering we hoped to emulate their illusive strength and courage. The sacrifice was hard and sometimes we would fall. It was then that we called on these spirits for inspiration, protection, and guidance. We asked to see ourselves clearly and to learn how to follow our true path.
Now, we can sit by the roaring ocean or a flowing landscape and remember the times that the standing spirits were our good guides and helpers. If we center ourselves and concentrate on the blessings we received and the lessons we learned we can renew our commitment to stand tall, be courageous and generous, live well, and find happiness.
Standing Spirits is a record of my memories in ceremony where I learned to love the circle and the joy of commitment. I offer Standing Spirits with my sincere hope that it will bring you inspiration, peace, and happiness.