Oliva Espín


My Native Land is Memory: Stories of a Cuban Childhood

Cover of My Native Land is Memory: Stories of a Cuban Childhood

Oliva Espín's tales of growing up in pre-Castro Cuba vividly and poignantly evoke a long-gone era. Espín has created in each of these well-crafted stories of childhood and adolescence little gems of feeling and insight. A beautiful book!

—Lillian Faderman
Author of Naked in the Promised Land and My Mother's Wars

Intimate, honest, written with sensuous detail, cultural specificity and psychological insight, Espín's stories root us deeply in the Cuba of her childhood and adolescence. The island's fraught history and violent political shifts are seamlessly interwoven into a beautiful coming of age story that is at once a love letter, analysis, and celebration of a family and nation still alive in the author's memory. A remarkable achievement.

—Anne Marie Welsh
Veteran San Diego Union-Tribune> Arts Critic and Author

Women, Sainthood, and Power

Women, Sainthood, and Power

Women, Sainthood, and Power explores the life stories of an international gallery of female saints from the wide-angle lens of several intellectual disciplines and the close-up view afforded by keenly observed fine points of character. Oliva M. Espín combines multidisciplinary scholarly research with a novelist’s eye for detail to create vivid portraits of saints in their times and places. Using her own memories, Espín argues that there are lessons to learn today from the lives of these exceptional women. This book is recommended for scholars and students of psychology, religious studies, gender and women’s studies, history, cultural studies, and ethnic studies.

"Women, Sainthood, and Power is at once a deeply personal book and a scholarly analysis of a selection of female, Catholic saints from the fourteenth to the twentieth century, ranging from Catherine of Siena and Joan of Arc to Mariana of Quito, Tekakwitha, and Edith Stein. Oliva M. Espín weaves a fascinating tapestry of these women’s stories of faith, resistance, and even defiance. Across six centuries, Espín highlights figures relevant for consideration today.

—Darleen Pryds
Franciscan School of Theology

"Espín offers readers of Women, Sainthood and Power a window into a group of female saints who have impacted her personal development and spirituality. Their lives are stories of faith, spirituality, and a belief in the power of being a woman. Espín poignantly presents their path to a powerful relationship with the divine.

—Mary Ann Gawelek
Lourdes University

Gendered Journeys: Women, Migration and Feminist Psychology

Gendered Journeys: Women, Migration and Feminist Psychology

Responding to the flux of migration that has swept across the globe, this authoritative and dynamic collection of scholarship aims to address the question: What about the women? The chapters explain why women's experiences of migration are necessary and worthy of scholarly feminist psychological attention, examining women's experiences in and of themselves, not simply as members of a family unit. With topics including memory, language, work, violence, motherhood, and intergenerational impacts of migration, this collection provides a feminist analytical lens through which not only gender, but its intersections with race, ethnicity, class, age, culture, sexuality and other socio-historical/context factors are brought into clearer focus. Accessible to a wide readership, this unique body of scholarship extends and complicates existing conversations on migration.

Feminist Therapy with Latina Women: Personal and Social Voices

Feminist Therapy with Latina Women: Personal and Social Voices

Feminist Therapy with Latina Women highlights the principles of feminist and multicultural counselling and therapy with Latinas and Latin American women, providing both theoretical approaches and applied frameworks. The authors are all experienced therapists and researchers with a deep understanding of the issues relevant to this particular population. In presenting their expertise, they discuss individual concerns and social context, applying it concretely to the personal and collective lives of Latina women. Chapters focus on the intersecting principles of feminism and multiculturalism, providing a much needed contribution to the field, with topics including domestic violence, eating disorders and body image, addictive behaviours, sexuality, immigrant and refugee experiences, and balancing the multiple roles of work and family.

Women Crossing Boundaries: The Psychology of Immigration and the Transformations of Sexuality, Routledge, 1999

Women Crossing Boundaries: A Psychology of Immigration and Transformations of Sexuality

Should a migrant community preserve its original culture at the expense of women's individuality or transform its attitude towards gender in ways that challenge age old traditions? Women Crossing Boundaries focuses on the impact of the process of migration on the development of sexuality and gender roles for women. Based on extensive research and interviews, the book presents the life narratives of immigrant and refugee women from Europe, Latin America, Asia and the Caribbean. Ranging in age from the early 20s to the mid-70s, they discuss the development of their sexuality in the context of their home culture and the acculturation process demanded by their new country. At this time of massive transcultural migrations, this volume provides a valuable, in-depth exploration of women's perspectives on the immigrant experience.

"Oliva Espin slices the standard immigration story with the sharp analytic blades of gender, sexuality, and language. Women Crossing Boundaries introduces us to the biographies of 43 adolescent and adult women who speak with shared grace, strength, and complexity, but with distinct points of tragedy and possibility. Espin expands our understanding as she releases our imaginations for what immigrant women's lives have been and might be."

—Michelle Fine
Professor of Social/Personality Psychology, City University of New York Graduate School and University Center

"What becomes of women's sense of themselves as sexual beings, as laborers, as tellers of life stories when they immigrate? Espin provides original and compassionate responses to these questions and shows us that border crossings always have consequences for women--for their dreams and their desires."

—Ruth Behar
Professor of Anthropology, University of Michigan

"In Women Crossing Boundaries we are treated to a marvelous array of stories of women's immigration to the United States. The women represented in this volume were born in different cultures and countries, immigrated at different ages, and have different sexual orientations. Nevertheless, even as she examines these differences, Espin shows how broadly and deeply gender and sexuality are implicated in women's experiences of this profound life change. A benchmark volume in the study of immigration and of women's lives!"

—Abigail Stewart
Professor of Psychology and Women's Studies, University of Michigan

Latina Realities: Essays on Healing, Migration, and Sexuality. Westview Press, 1997

Latina Realities: Essays on Healing, Migration, and Sexuality

A retrospective of 15 years, this book brings together for the first time, Oliva Espin's previously published articles and conference papers. Primarily focusing on the experiences of Latina women, gleaned from psychotherapy practice and research, the book presents discussions on experience as a source of theory and method in psychology, issues relevant to immigrant women and girls, and similar topics.

"Oliva Espin gives a powerful voice to the stories of Latina immigrants. From understanding the experience of migration to the social construction of identity to the issues of sexuality, Espin provides an excellent framework for understanding the strengths and limitations of feminist approaches to psychotherapy for Latinas. This work is a testament to the collective power and strength of Latinas in crossing more than just physical borders and boundaries--it intimately speaks to the psychological, social, spiritual, political, and practical realities experienced by Latina women."

—Richard A. Rodriguez
University of California at Berkeley

"Oliva Espin poses questions that others have evaded in feminist psychology and ethnic studies. She gives answers based on years of experience as a teacher, therapist, and researcher. Espin speaks in a voice that clearly evokes and distills significant experiences of migration for Latinas and other women of color in the U.S. I find her work equally compelling whether I approach it as a Puerto Rican reader or as an academic interested in the psychological experiences of Latinas."

—Angela B. Ginorio
Northwest Center for Research on Women

"With this collection of her writings, Oliva Espin's work will finally receive the visibility that it has so long deserved. Hers is an essential voice through which psychologists and scholars can hear the nuances of a complex, fully envisioned feminist theory."

—Laura S. Brown
President, American Psychological Association Division of Psychology of Women

Latina Healers: Lives of Power and Tradition, Floricanto Press, 1996

Latina Healers: Lives of Power and Tradition

"Latina Healers casts new light on the centrality of gender and migration status on the lives of Latina women. Encompassing the idiosyncrasies of individual decisions and the social context of the healers' lives, this book presents an original analysis of the relationship between gender, power, religious beliefs and social status. It brings the scholarship on life narratives together with understanding of the impact of migration and traditional beliefs on the lives of these women. Heralding women not as passive victims of social forces, but as active and creative agents of their lives, the book's findings are valuable for mental health practitioners, feminist scholars, and all interested in the lives of Latinas."

—Lillian Comas-Diaz, Ph.D.
Editor in Chief, Cultural Diversity and Mental Health

"Dr. Oliva Espin social research and most inquisitive biographical narrative provide a solid new interpretation of the roles of healers in the Latino community. Drawn from historical and traditional beliefs, a new understanding of power between genders is herein clearly documented. Highly recommended."


Refugee Women and Their Mental Health: Shattered Societies, Shattered Lives. Haworth Press, 1996

Refugee Women and their Mental Heath: Shattered Societies, Shattered Lives

Refugee Women and Their Mental Health is a groundbreaking book which details the horror and hardship of women refugees. It explores their needs and how they recover from refugee traumas and offers hope for improving the lives of women refugees, even as inhabitants in new countries. The information and narratives in this book are vital for all who are concerned about the physical and emotional well-being of women in refugee or exile circumstances around the world. A book of immediate interest, it focuses on understanding the plight of women refugees around the world and adds innovative treatment and recovery models for helping these women survivors. You will find unique insight into the plight and resulting emotional problems of refugee women.

"The authors provide convincing evidence of the importance of attending to cultural and communal constraints that both facilitate and impede the survivors' healing processes.... The various approaches in this collection share a sensitivity to gender and culture--central tools for helping professionals who seek to accompany refugee women's movements toward health and recovery... Provides first-hand stories as well as important contributions by those who accompany women refugees in their struggles for survival and recovery. An important resource for advocates, helping professionals, and policymakers alike."

M. Brinton Lykes, Ph.D.
Community/Social Psychologist with Guatemalan Women and Children Refugees, Brookline, Massachusetts

Feminist Reflections on Growth and Transformation: Asian American Women in Therapy

Feminist Reflections on Growth and Transformation: Asian American Women in Therapy

This book provides therapists with valuable insight and research into the identities of Asian and Asian American women, all toward the crucial goal of being more effective when providing therapeutic help. In-depth explorations into the women's personal experiences and psychological issues provide an empowering multicultural feminist viewpoint that challenges assumptions and stereotypes about their identities while presenting innovative therapeutic approaches.

Identity is made up from several factors, such as worldview, beliefs, values, race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, class, age, and religious orientation. Feminist Reflections on Growth and Transformation: Asian American Women in Therapy explores how these common factors impact psychotherapy approaches for women of Asian American backgrounds. This unique text presents the current research, what the data mean for adjusting clinical strategies, and personal accounts from Asian and Asian American women. Each chapter is extensively referenced.

Sin or Salvation: The Relationship Between Sexuality and Spirituality in Psychotherapy

Sin or Salvation: The Relationship Between Sexuality and Spirituality in Psychotherapy

A unique feminist exploration of the interplay of two topics of crucial psychological importance.

When in therapy, women inevitably present both sexual and spiritual issues of importance. However, there has yet to be brought forth an integrating approach to the understanding of women's sexuality and spirituality from a feminist psychological perspective. Sin or Salvation: The Relationship Between Sexuality and Spirituality in Psychotherapy fills this gap, integrating these two diverse yet still connected aspects of therapy. This innovative exploration of women's experiences of their sexuality and spirituality is presented from a feminist psychological perspective, clearly illustrating the dichotomy that exists in Western culture and offering a unique approach for convergence. This book provides therapists with positive and self-affirming viewpoints and practical strategies to help harmonize sex and spirit issues in women clients.

Sin or Salvation: The Relationship Between Sexuality and Spirituality in Psychotherapy uses a synergistic perspective to facilitate healing for women's psycho/sexual/spiritual growth and development. Therapists are provided with invaluable tools for personal understanding and clinical practice when considering sexuality and spirituality and how they interact in a client's life.