Māori are the first nation people of Aotearoa New Zealand, a group of South West Pacific Islands. Colonized by the British Empire, Aotearoa came into being through an act consolidated by the signing of a controversial treaty between Māori tribes and Queen Victoria of England. From their earliest encounter, Māori women, or wahine Māori, experienced a dramatic shift in their social position. Traditionally, they occupied leadership roles at all levels of society. However, colonization instigated a societal reassignment that has led them to their current position behind white males, white females, white children, and Māori males, but ahead of Māori children. Key events in history contributed to the invisibility of wahine Māori in their own context and brought them to their present crisis. To assist the reader in understanding this context, this chapter first considers some key elements of Māori spirituality, and then explores developed and developing relationships, specifically the consequences of the differences between values systems of Māori and the British colonizer. The final section describes the current reality of wahine Māori and draws some conclusions about the influence of globalization in the process.
Far-flung movements of women from disadvantaged areas of the world to more advantaged ones are at the heart of the present configuration of global capitalism. Rather than simply leaving their countries of origin to set up temporary or permanent residence elsewhere, women who move in today's global economy, in order to take jobs as housekeepers or nannies (for example), are typically transnational migrants. Even as they settle into new places, their lives remain bound up with where they came from, in virtue of rather dense social and familial networks bridging national boundaries. Connected simultaneously in this way to at least two places at once, these women are working out in their everyday lives a fundamental reconfiguration of the way cultural traditions are set up and maintained, with significant implications for the understanding of religious traditions in particular. This chapter shows that, in the lives of these women, coming undone is the familiar association of tradition with the intergenerational transmission of an already established way of life by means of face-to-face interactions in a single location.
Neela Bhattacharya Saxena
This chapter seeks to contribute to what Raimon Panikkar calls a dialogical dialogue, by speaking in the voice of a Shakta (Shakti worshipper) woman who grew up with the symbol of an all-powerful female deity: Kali, the presiding center of the Tantric tradition. Tantric Advaita, or non-dual thinking, and meditation practices permeate Indic traditions, making the world itself saturated with the spirit of the Divine Feminine. Tantric meditation upon the Devi that fine-tunes the entire being of the practitioner awakens her to the vibrant and subtle Shakti—the energy source of all which animates the universe—within her own body. This awakening at once annihilates the limited self bound by conditioned thinking and opens a window onto the infinite potentiality that only an encounter with death, symbolized by cremation-ground imagery of Kali, can inaugurate. The chapter presents this Gynocentric core of the Indic tradition within the larger context of Hinduism and its long, complex history. It shows how pluralist postmodern worldviews are more congenial to understanding polymorphous Hinduism(s) as opposed to absolutist Western perspectives influenced by imperial, missionary, and reductively rationalist ideas that misread the Great Goddess as a remnant of primitive religiosities, needing the light of masculine reason of Western Enlightenment. The chapter then locates the Indian context in a fast-changing world of global commerce that has the potential to impinge upon human diversity by imposing its own hegemonic vision. It further imagines a positive side effect of globalization—a new global consciousness strengthened by women's voices and spiritual convictions that would possibly herald what has been proclaimed as the second Axial age, opening up intercultural dialogues for the benefit of all—women, men, and the planet as a whole.