Lucia Chiavola Birnbaum to Speak on “Women as Visionaries and Healers”

Dr. Lucia Chiavola Birnbaum

Dr. Lucia Chiavola Birnbaum

Lucia Chiavola Birnbaum

Lucia Chiavola Birnbaum, Professor Emerita, Women’s Spirituality, CIIS, joins ASWM’s 2016 conference to deliver Saturday’s keynote address, “Women as Visionaries and Healers.

Known to her students as LuLu Nanna (grandma) and Strega Nonna (witch grandmother), Lucia’s groundbreaking research in Black Madonnas: Feminism, Religion, and Politics in Italy was followed by She is Everywhere: Anthology of Writings in Womanist/Feminist Spirituality, edited with Annette Williams, Karen Villanueva, and The Future has an Ancient Heart: Caring, Sharing, Healing from the African Mediterranean to Occupy Everywhere.

“In a time of unprecedented peril (global heating, perpetual war, nuclear danger, moral disarray) I am a great grandmother who can not afford to be hopeless.”

My research, books, and life suggest that even when there is no evidence for hope, there may be possibilities we can not see. These possibilities are related to every human’s origin in Africa—we are all ultimately sisters and brothers, a legacy of human migrations after 60,000 BCE to all continents out of Africa—caring, sharing, healing—otherwise we would not have survived to now. A kaleidoscopic dance of our genes in loving encounters creating a highly multicultural world in an open-ended universe.”

Lucia is dedicating her offerings this year to ASWM sister scholar, artist, and dear friend, Lydia Ruyle, who is, today, critically ill.

Citing Lydia’s inspiration, Lucia explains, “Lydia has been significant in my life, personally and professionally. She helped me through the searing time when I was unable to present to the ASWM 2012 conference because my husband Wally was dying. In my conflict with my publisher over the cover of The Future Has an Ancient Heart, Lydia saved the book with her banner of Cybele, African and West Asian dark mother for the front cover. Recently she honored me by dedicating her banner, La Befana, to me, depicting me as witch grandmother (strega nonna) who brings gifts to all children, whether they’re naughty or nice. She called her banners, “my girls,” suggesting the reflexive nurturing she conveyed in the banners she painted and sewed. And showed all over the world, touching thousands, if not millions of women while conveying her early aphorism, “Better Homes and Goddesses”. . . in all the wonderful diversity of the world’s women and their homes.”

All of us in ASWM share in Lucia’s love and concern for Lydia, who is a dear mentor and friend to many of us on the board.

The Friday networking luncheon features an opportunity for conversation with Lucia at her table: “Strega Nonna – Witch Grandmother.”

Additionally, Lucia will present at our sister gathering, the Matriarchal Studies Day, on Thursday night, March 31: Modern Matriarchies, where she is the keynote and closing speaker, discussing her newest manuscript, “Black Bird and a Pear Tree.”

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