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Islands of Women and Amazons
Representations and Realities
by Batya Weinbaum
About The Book
From the beginning, myths have told of women who lived apart from men-the Sirens who sang on the Aegean rocks, the Amazons of the Brazilian jungle, the self-reproducing women on islands in Polynesia, to mention only a few. As this theme emerged in her own fiction, Batya Weinbaum became intrigued by its persistence across time and cultures and began tracing it in literature and mythology, as well as in actual locales that are or were said to be islands of women. In this fascinating, interdisciplinary book, she explores how the myth of Amazons has served varying psychological needs in different cultures over time.Weinbaum first analyzes various historical interpretations and uses of the Amazon archetype, some designed to empower women, others created by men to disempower them. She next turns to the original Greek context, in Homer’s epics and other aspects of Greek culture, and then traces how Amazons eventually evolved into negative representations of paganism. Moving from Rodriguez de Montalvo’s fifteenth-century Sergas de Esplandian, which imagined an island of women in the New World, Weinbaum concludes with revealing fieldwork she conducted on Isla Mujeres (Island of Women) off the Yucatan Peninsula, which included giving birth with the participation of a native Maya midwife.
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