Right now I am struggling a bit to find more persons to interview. The six interviews I have conducted so far was really easy to get a hold so I am a bit frustrated now when things are not going as smooth as before. Hopefully the persons I have written and tried to get in contact with will answer me soon so that I can reach collect more material on the activist’s role in the struggle for legalizing abortion here in Argentina.
Meanwhile I’ve started to transcribe the interviews I have conducted so far, but the process is sloooow. To be honest it is really really boring and it takes such a long time. But with a bit of patience and time I hope I will survive this too.
Otherwise things are continuing as before here in Argentina. I feel comfortable here and I believe its because I was already familiar with the country, culture and the city before going on this MFS adventure. In that sense I believe that I might not face the same struggles with culture shock and difficulties of adaption as other persons who goes on a mfs might do. This does not mean that my stay here is all without difficulties or struggles, it happens to me too, but I think that I have been able to adopt myself rather quickly into the Argentinian rhythm and culture, and that maybe an unanswered message or last minute canceled or changed plans does not surprise me anymore. I have learned to accept these things, that the understanding of the concept of time and planning is not the same as what I am used to. But even though I’ve experienced canceled plans and unanswered messages people are so friendly and warm, there is always time for having some beers or drinking some mate, and for this I love Argentina and the beautiful people I’ve had the opportunity to get to know here.
I spent last weekend in Buenos Aires, the big buzzling capital of the country. It was nice to get out of the smaller city La Plata after a while. Dont get me wrong, I love to live in La Plata, it is a beautiful student town filled with culture events and things to do for students, but after I while a felt that I needed to see something different. Then it is great to have Buenos Aires close, and after an hour long train ride I was able to breath the big city air of the capital.
I spent the weekend by going to the annual book fair, some museums, and eating some nice food. I did also conduct an interview, so my stay in the capital did also include some field work and it was not all vacation mode. The city is huge but its so beautiful and sometimes it feels like Im walking around in an European city because some buildings in some neighborhoods resembles the architecture of cities of Europe. But of course the city has its Latin American vibes, and I think this is the reason for why I love the city so much, its this mix of something familiar with something exciting and culturally different. The city does also contain a lot of Argentinian history and many squares and places are filled with history. Such as the Plaza del Mayo, the square in front of the President palace “Casa Rosada”. During the military dictatorship mothers who’s children got abducted by the military and disappeared, went out to the square and marched in front of the presidents office demanding the State to be accountable for the disappearance of their children and its human rights violations.
Here are some pictures from my weekend in Buenos Aires
Since I last updated I finally started to conduct interviews with women involved in the struggle for legalizing abortion in Argentina. So far I have conducted 6 interviews with different women, in different ages, education, and occupation. It’s been an exiting process but also quite nerve-wracking because of the fact that it is the first time I conduct interviews. It have also been questioning my position of doing field research and how the women I interview would react to my questions, these thoughts have also added to my nervosity. But all the women I have interviewed have been so kind, helpful and willing to answer all my questions, they have also found it very interesting that I am focusing on this struggle and in their situation in Argentina, and that I am doing this research.
Sometimes the language has been a bit of a struggle during the interviews especially when it comes to asking follow-up questions. Sometimes they speak so fast and passionately about their experiences or their struggle that it becomes a bit difficult to formulate the additional questions I would like to in order to make the interview as open and as less structured as possible. But I guess it’s also a matter of practices of conducting interviews.
During the easter holidays I felt a bit far from home, especially when seeing fotos on social media of friends and family gathering and celebrating. But I tried to keep myself bussy with studying and to meet some friends here in La Plata. During holidays the city always becomes a bit of a ghost town because a lot of people return to their home towns or leave the city for the country side. So it was quite relaxing walking and biking around in La Plata not being scared of getting hit by a car when crossing the street.
Now I am entering week three here in Argentina and I finally got in contact with some people involved in the struggle and the movement for the legalization of abortion about conducting interviews with them. So for this week I have scheduled three interviews, the first one tomorrow. The nerves are a bit shaky but it will hopefully be fine.
Tomorrow I will conduct an interview with a women involved in the “National Campaign for the legalization of abortion” (La campaña nacional por el aborto legal seguro y gratuito) and then later during the week I have two interviews with two medicine students who are organizing an open and free course at the medicin faculty about abortion and it being a problem of public health care. Since the practice of abortion is illegal the medicin students does not get trained in how to address the issue of abortion and how to talk about it. The organizers of the course states that the purpose of the course is to provide academic and practical tools that are needed in order to confront the reality, a reality where where people that are able to get pregnant do have abortions . The penalization of the practice imply that women realize abortion in unsafe and clandestine manner, which makes it a problem of public health care. I believe that it is an important aspect and action in the struggle for the legalization to also provide professionals with the tools they need in order to help women.
During the weekend I had time to enjoy some fiesta. A cultural center in the city had a LGBTQ festival that where arranging performances and concerts that raised awareness to the trans and non binary artist scene. It was really fun and so nice and open energy at the place. It makes me glad that there are places like this where everyone is welcomed and the hegemonic way of understanding gender is challenged and deconstructed.
During Sunday evening I went to a book release event. A student from the journalist faculty presented her book “Seremos Ley” that is a result from her bachelor thesis. The book presents various stories from the women engaged in the movement for the legalization of abortion and especially women engaged in the “socorrismo”. Las socorristas is a group of women that help and accompany persons that wish to have an abortion in the process, so that they are able to have a safe and abortion. This national network of help or first aid, which is the translation of socorrismo into english, has become extremely important to the struggle for legalizing abortion. Every year this network help and accompany around 5,000 women to have safe abortions.
During the event there were some beautiful live music but also a discussion talk and presentation of the book by the author. Women who had been interviewed for the book where also there and together they presented a interesting discussion of the their work and its importance for the struggle.
The book Seremos Ley which in English means “we will be ley”.
Picture of the talk where the author presented her book and then some live music.
The call for abortion can be found in many different places, for example in the bathroom of the place where they held the party, there I found these stickers.
I have now entered my second week in Argentina and things are going good. Last week I was reading the literature my contact person gave me and it gave me some new insights and ideas for my interviews. So everyday last week I biked to the humanities faculty and studied in the library as the good student I am 😉 Now I feel a bit more confident on the current academic discussion on the issue of abortion and this is good knowledge for both the writing of the thesis and the interviews.
Yesterday I meet with my contact person again and I showed her my interview questions. She gave me some really useful help in formulating the questions in Spanish, since Spanish not my mother language I sometimes need help with the translation.
Now it is time to contact the women for my interviews. My contact person has given me some contacts that I am now getting in touch with. One of them lives in the south of Argentina so hopefully a trip will be organized to the beautiful south.
Besides studying I have had time to enjoy the weekend with some friends. The plan for Friday was to go see a theater because it “La noche de los teatros” (the night of theater) and all the theater plays were free. After visiting three different theaters and all of them were full we decided to go to a bar instead. Saturday night continued in a cultural vibe when I went to the cinema with a friend to see a feminist movie from the 70’s. The movie was centered around the abortion struggle and the idea of motherhood in France during that period and it was so really mind opening to see that these are themes that we are still discussing in modern times in both Sweden and especially here in Argentina.
This is a poster that I found at the faculty, 9 reasons (because unfortunately number 10 was not captured in the foto) for demanding legal abortion in Argentina. They are all reasons that illuminate the current discussing of abortin in the country and the social affects it has, and i thought it could be relevant to show here on the blog.
Abortion in Argentina is non-punishable in some causes.
Abortion is the leading cause of death for pregnant women.
Legal or illegal, women will have an abortion either way.
The upper class abort in silence and in dollars. The poor girls are the ones that dies.
Abortion is an issue of public health care, social justice and human rights.
Legal abortion for not to die, contraceptives for not having to abort, sexual education for deciding.
Motherhood from the desire not from an order.
Take away their rosary (catholic prayer beads) from our ovaries.
Clandestine abortion as a business of few.
A painting on the faculty building that is demanding the access to legal abortion as a decolonization of women’s bodies.
Finishing this post with a less important picture of me eating Argentinian fires, the best ones with cheese, onion and bacon.
Finally I have arrived to Argentina and this new experience has begun.
I have decided to stay in La Plata, a student city one hour outside of Buenos Aires, where I did my exchange semester last year. I have found a wonderful little accommodation with a patio that I share with two other students. My plan is to have La Plata as a “home base” and then travel to places in the Buenos Aires region when I need to conduct interviews.
On Monday I meet with my contact person who is a teacher at the Humanities faculty here in La Plata and we had a great first meeting together. We talked a bit about my project and she gave me some literature so that I can read up on the the current discussion of abortion in the country. During my exchange I learned a lot about the women’s movement and the political debate of abortion and now I am excited to learn even more and to gain new experiences.
The first days have been intense and filled with studying but I have also had time for some catching up with missed friends from my exchange. The weather is better than I expected so I am walking around and enjoying the sun.
It feels like things haven’t changed since I left Argentina almost one year ago. The people are as friendly as always and they don’t miss a chance to sit down and drink some mate (the argentinian national drink). But there is one drastic change in the country, the economic crisis. The argentinian peso has lost half of its value in one year and the prices have increased due to the current inflation. The crisis is affecting all the areas and spheres of the lives of population, and persons have shared their discomfort and preoccupation on the current situation.
During the week I will continue reading and start to formulate the questions for my interviews. Hopefully I will have some time during the weekend to enjoy some cervezas and perhaps even a concert. The rhythm of life is relaxed and and plans happens in the moment, something that can be a bit different from the Swedish way of planing, but I like it.
The catedral of La Plata and a red painted bench commemorating women who died due to domestic violence.