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Building Womanist CoalitionsWriting and Teaching in the Spirit of Love$
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Gary L. Lemons

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780252042423

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: January 2020

DOI: 10.5622/illinois/9780252042423.001.0001

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Nepantlera as Midwife of Empathy

Nepantlera as Midwife of Empathy

(p.136) 7 Nepantlera as Midwife of Empathy
Building Womanist Coalitions

Paul T. Corrigan

University of Illinois Press

This chapter develops Gloria E. Anzaldúa’s concept of the nepantlera—her Nahuatl-derived term for in-betweeners and bridge builders—by envisioning the nepantlera as a “midwife” who helps people figuratively give birth to empathy for others. The practice of midwifing empathy motivates the work of womanist artists in particular. This essay elucidates this metaphor and practice of midwifing empathy by analyzing works from the womanist anthology this bridge we call home—a painting by Nova Gutierrez, a short story by Iobel Andemicael, and a memoir by Jesse Swan. The essay concludes with reflections on the implications of the work of nepantlera for teaching and for social justice.

Keywords:   nepantlera, empathy, reading, art, activism, teaching, womanist, midwife

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