Professor Staudt Review of Between Hope and Despair

Between Hope and Despair
Women Learning Politics

By Donna M. Chovanec  

In this slim volume, Chovanec (education policy studies, Univ. of Alberta, Canada) enables readers to understand the antidictatorship movement in Arica, at the northern Chilean border, through women’s voices. She does this in three time segments: “Act I”, the antecedents before dictator Pinochet took control; “Act II”, the struggle of risky, creative and efficacious praxis through 1989; and ” Act III”, the continuation thereafter. Chovanec shares pictures of movement activities and insights about meanings translated from Spanish. The book is divided into two parts; the first part portrays “the passion, the perseverance, and the polarities of the women’s movement” in the three acts discussed above, and the second discusses a theoretical and methodological analysis of political learning, drawing on Gramsci, Marx, and Brazilian adult education pedagogical genius Paulo Freire. Initially, the order of the first and second parts seems odd, but upon full comprehension of this gem of a book, the sequence appears appropriate-an authentic analysis of action and reflection. While many books are available on Latin American Women’s feminist and social movements, this short book shares themes with Sonia Alvarez’s “Engendering Democracy” (CH, Jun’91, 28-5965) and Shirley Walters’s, ed., “Globalization , Adult Education, and Training” (1997). Summing up: Recommended. All undergraduate, graduate, adn research collections. - K. Staudt, Univ. of Texas at El Paso (CHOICE, October ‘09, 47-1083)

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