Why does the movement against corporate globalization protest atmeetings like those of the World Economic Forum, recently completed in New York? What does the movement for global justice want?
There are a million ways to answer these questions. One set of compelling answers is contained in Walking on Fire: Haitian Women´s Stories of Survival and Resistance, a wonderful new book by Beverly Bell (Cornell University Press). Walking on Fire is a collection of interviews with Haitian women, with astute synthesizing text by Bell.
....Walking on Fire illustrates how the dynamics of corporate globalization overlay with local hierarchies, prejudices and systems of patriarchy to impoverish and marginalize women. Most searingly, Walking on Fire reveals the raw violence embedded in these overlapping systems of domination. The women in Walking on Fire recount stomach-churning stories of childhood slavery and abuse, rape and immiseration.
....Walking on Fire is subtitled "Haitian women's stories of survival and resistance" and the emotions of horror stirred by the book are matched by a sense of awe and inspiration of the women, many of whom do struggle just to survive, and especially of those who choose to respond to amazing hardship and myriad challenges by organizing and collective action to improve their and others' lives, and to fight for justice. (Russell Mokhiber and Robert Weissman)
From the Publisher
"This is painful reading; it shows much suffering but also much remarkable transcendence. Bell's book vocalizes this, but its point is not merely archival. These testimonies are meant to move readers to action."Publishers Weekly
"In this moving book on opposing tyranny and degradation, activist Bell . . . gives face to the numbers by providing a forum for indigenous women to speak about their lives. . . . An antidote to cynicism, the book not only introduces American readers to an array of courageous role models but also proves that change is possible."Library Journal
"The women Bell interviews, many of whom are veteran activists in Haiti's grassroots democracy movement, recount stories of being raped, struggling to feed their families, and being subject to political torture. . . . Bell does her best to balance the painful lives of the women she interviews with the recognition that under such conditions, mere daily survival of the body and the spirit takes tremendous resilience. . . . Perhaps one day the small acts of rebellion that Bell celebrates may help to create a movement capable of political transformation, so that the example of Haiti once again frightens the powerful of the world."Voice Literary Supplement
"Walking on Fire provides powerful, moving witness to the desperate struggle of these women to protest andmore importantsurvive. The women who speak out in the pages of Beverly Bell's book offer an eloquent portrait of a poverty that is unrelenting in its meanness."Women's Review of Books
"Rarely does the voice of Haitian women in Haiti fighting for their rights emerge so clearly to relate their own experiences, battles, and hopes. . . .Despite the harshness of their lives, the honesty and healing potential of the women somehow rises above the unimaginable and lands at the readers' feet."The Haitian Times
"Walking on Fire illustrates how the dynamics of corporate globalization overlay with local hierarchies, prejudices and systems of patriarchy to impoverish and marginalize women. Most searingly, Walking on Fire reveals the raw violence embedded in these overlapping systems of domination. . . The emotions of horror stirred by the book are matched by a sense of awe and inspiration of the women, many of whom do struggle just to survive, . . . to fight for justice."Focus on the Corporation
"Beverly Bell's remarkable book allows thirty-eight Haitian women to speak for themselves. Defying victim status, together they tell the story of how Haiti's poor and dispossessed women have fought for their personal and collective survival. They weave together an inspiring study in resistance and alternative models of power."Susan Sarandon
"In transcribing the istwastories and historyof these Haitian women, Beverly Bell opens a door that has been closed for much too long. Oppressed beyond imagination, these voices convey sensibility, courage, creativity and power. I am moved at my core."Margaret Randall, author of Sandino's Daughters Revisited
"Walking on Fire is an extraordinary work. The stories are tremendously moving, powerfully told, and leave one gasping for breath, both at the horror and at the enormity of women's heroism, perseverance, and resistance."Bettina Aptheker, Professor and Chair, Women's Studies, University of California, Santa Cruz
"The future of engaged feminism is secure if it embraces, without ambivalence, the struggle of women living with a very different kind of violence than that encountered in North America or Europe. Beverly Bell has done us a great service in bringing to light these varied and vivid testimonies of Haiti's cruel modernity and women's resistance to it. Many of the authors of these essays do indeed walk on fire. Some, like Alerte Belanceleft for hacked to death after being dumped, along with other activists, in a notorious potter's fieldhave survived a long, barefoot walk on hot coals and emerged with a message for all of us: 'In my mutilated state, my neck nearly cut in two, my tongue cut in two, my left hand cut in two, my right arm cut in two, God rescued me for a reason. He put his force in me so I could struggle for women, not only to have life, but rights and freedom.'"Paul Farmer, author of Haiti after the Earthquake
"Walking on Fire is a book of exceptional merit and makes a significant original contribution to general understandings of women's resistance to poverty and oppression in many forms. Beverly Bell is able to provide a deeply compassionate understanding of narratives, physically crushing and morally uplifting experiences, and structures of poor women's lives who seem to be in chaos."Josh DeWind, Director, International Migration Program at the Social Science Research Council