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Interview: "I think about how much pain and blood there is behind the ideals"

Maria Cecilia Colombani, Philosophy professor at the University of Morón, Argentina, was in São Paulo between June 10 and 14, 2019 for a week of studies on Hesiod's work (Theogony and Works and Days). During her visit to the University of São Paulo, where she presented a lecture about women as a subaltern group based on Hesiod's work, a lecture about women as a subaltern group based on Hesiod's work, she spoke to the Blog about her research, the construction of the feminine ideal in the texts of ancient Greek authors and the possibilities of studying women’s agency. See her interview below.

Can you speak in broad terms about your most recent work?

My most recent work is being, is turning to Hesiod, but from a more philological perspective. I completed my PhD on Hesiod, but just with philosophical tools and analysis. I am revisiting both Works and Days and Theogony, but now with the philological tools, dedicated to the Greek, in reading the Greek text and working again with the same anthropological-philosophical perspective on both texts. And I'm starting to work on the reception of Hesiod in antiquity, so I'm looking at Xenophon, Solon and Plato to see what these early matrices of Hesiod's thought are like.

What is your process of working with these ancient texts like? From them, is it possible to understand how a feminine ideal is constructed?

Yes, I believe so. I start, in my analyses, from Foucault's archaeological method and from a certain question of the present around the feminine ideal and my task, my humble task, is that of an excavator who goes to the myth and then to the philosophical expression to seek how this feminine ideal was constructed. So, my first researches searched this construction in Homer and Hesiod, but, soon followed by other plans, especially in Aristotle, seeing how it was constructed, how we are tributaries of that construction of a feminine ideal. And then, also, I think of Nietzsche and how much pain and how much blood there is behind the construction of ideals.

Despite this constructed feminine ideal in the texts, is it possible to analyse the agency of the women themselves?

Yes, I believe it is possible to analyse it in those texts and contemporaneously. The dialectics of power always has to do with an action and a reaction, so, reading the texts carefully, reading fantastic sources like tragedy, for example, the Greek tragedies, there is the possibility of reading resistance movements, exactly as it happens with the contemporary accounts of women. If a certain model of feminine construction is still strong, there are also, fortunately, movements of women in their resistance actions and that is why we are where we are.

Interview: Nara Oliveira e Pedro Benedetti

Video: Nara Oliveira

Subtitles: Jessica Brustolim

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