In San Antonio, colorful images of the olive-skinned Virgin of Guadalupe can be found in countless small businesses, home altars, yard shrines, public buildings, art galleries and, yes, churches.
But la Virgencita, as she is known, is just one of many versions of the Black Madonna, a blend of the Virgin Mary and ancient mother goddesses from Native American, Eurasian and African cultures, says Malgorzata Oleszkiewicz-Peralba, UTSA associate professor of modern languages and literature.
In The Black Madonna in Latin America and Europe:
Tradition and Transformation (University of New Mexico Press, 2007), Oleszkiewicz-Peralba examines the worldwide phenomenon of the dark mother archetype. Her comparative approach to this potent cross-cultural icon has taken her around the world.
“There are so many connections among these different manifestations,” says Oleszkiewicz-Peralba, who grew up in Uruguay and Poland, where Our Lady of Czestochowa is much revered. Other specific Black Madonna manifestations examined by the author include Our Lady of Aparecida (in Portuguese, Nossa Senhora Aparecida, the patron saint of Brazil) and Iemanjá, a mother goddess in the Afro-Brazilian religion of Candomblé.
“These images are potent because they carry an ancient memory of the dark mother, who was the first mother of
humanity,” Oleszkiewicz-Peralba says.
Though culturally specific, each Marian/goddess manifestation shares the same syncretic quality, that is, the hybridization of Christian and non-Christian sacred symbolism. Furthermore, these images are often associated with national identity and/or adopted as icons of social justice causes, she says.
STATE OF ENERGY
Dianne Rahm, professor of public administration, has edited a collection of articles about one of today’s salient public policy topics—renewable energy sources. In Sustainable Energy and the States: Essays on Politics, Markets and Leadership (McFarland and Company, Inc., 2006), Rahm presents case studies from eight states and regions.
The book’s state-focused approach reflects a current
political reality. “Federal leadership [on] sustainable energy has been lacking,” Rahm says. In the absence of consistent policies and funding at the federal level, the states have stepped in, tailoring policies to their own resource base. However, these efforts are often undercut by the on-again, off-again nature of federal energy law and funding.
Take Texas, for example. A federal wind production tax credit encouraged investment in wind turbines, but Congress let the tax credit expire before being reinstated. The result was a “boom or bust economy,” Rahm notes, which hindered
the state’s ability to develop infrastructure to transmit wind energy from wind farms, usually in less-populated areas,
to population centers.
Each area profiled possesses a unique set of environmental resources and challenges—and therefore a different menu of policies and regulations. “What works for a sunny state isn’t going to work for a rainy state,” Rahm says.
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