I just got back from an exhausting trip to the Women’s Worlds conference in Florianopolis, Brazil. Women’s Worlds is a group of feminist academics and activists that puts on a big conference every three years in a different country. This year it partnered with a Brazilian group called Fazendo Genero, but I must say I saw very little of them except for a few male to trans participants. In 2020 it will be in Mozambique. After a trip full of obstacles and delays I finally got there. I was late because I had not realized I needed a visa to go to Brazil and had to get one at the last minute. Then it took me a long time to get to Florianopolis because my plane was late and I had to take another flight. Erella Shadmi and Angela Dolmetsch were already there when I arrived. Angela Miles came even later than I did. The big problem with the conference was that there was no official translation. There were students studying English who did translate some but It was not enough. Everything was in Portuguese except one session we found in English but which was almost over when we go there. For many of the ones we would have tried to go to anyway you had to have reserved a place and we did not know it. There was no printed program. You had to look online with your cell phone if you had one. I guess it was what you could call a South – South conference but nobody told us ahead of time. I have been to lots of the Women’s Worlds – in Norway, Uganda, Seoul, Spain, and Canada and the others had always had a lot of English translation. We had two gift economy sessions scheduled for Thurs. and Fri. mornings and I decided to hire a professional translator. That was a good decision and it transformed our sessions. The translator was a young man who liked the idea of the gift and he was very efficient. He translated the other speakers and ourselves sequentially so we all understood each other. A couple of the other speakers were really good. They talked about the ‘development industry’ and I hope to keep in contact with them. Everybody was enthusiastic about the maternal gift economy idea and I think they really ‘got it’. They had not heard anything like it before. I think we were a good team presenting it. We all agreed afterwards that our difficult trips had been worthwhile.
A woman who was at our sessions invited us to go to the eco village where she lives. We went on Sat. It was a nice environmentally appropriate place on the side of a mountain, with lots of water and thriving vegetation. It has been there for 30 years and is actually a center for Ayahuascan spirituality. Our friend and her husband are part of an extended network of these shamanic centers and they also do videos of indigenous groups in the Amazon.
Florianopolis is a beautiful place. It is a city on an island in an extended archipelago on the east coast of Brazil. I flew back Sunday night with the full moon on the water, the lights of the city and then the dark silhouettes of the other islands below.
I am glad I went to the conference but I probably would not have gone on such a tiring trip (24 hours each way) if I had known how difficult it was going to be because of the language. And I think the others of us agree.
We also had some time to discuss gift theory issues and I hope to get together again in the not distant future to discuss more. Maybe there is a way to do more of it online also. I have been thinking of creating a Frequently Asked Questions section on our website. If anyone wants to ask or answer any important questions (and there are many) please write me and we can discuss them and/or put them on the site.