Diosas de lo Íntimo

Name of Project: Diosas de lo íntimo Oráculos de la memoria familiar (Goddesses of the intimate – Oracles of family memory)

Researcher: Ximena Vial (GSAS’2016)

Designer and Illustrator: Paula Vial, Diseño UC

Date: July 2020

Field of study: Oral History, Art, Anthropology and Literature

For more information: [email protected] / [email protected]


Special thanks to all the women who participated in this book, for their time and trust.


COVID-19 has brought many challenges in the areas of science and the economy; however, one of most immediate consequences has been the withdrawal of the population to the intimate space of their home. This project aims to record, reflect and give visibility to female life stories through the creation of a book entitled “Diosas de lo íntimo – Oráculos de la memoria familiar” (Goddesses of the intimate – Oracles of family memory), which compiles ten stories of diverse Chilean women. The importance of registering the private sphere today in the midst of a global pandemic that has forced us inside the home, is key to future historical accounts.

Women have been the keepers of the intimate space and familiar memory since ancestral times; however, their work and relevance has been kept in the private spheres of history and left out of traditional accounts. The objective of this book is to shed light into narratives that are linked to the intimate space of the home and womanhood. Practices within the female world keep families/communities’ history alive through rituals, recipes, religion, photo albums and other practices that were unearthed through ethnographic interviews done for the purpose of this research.

In order to record the stories included in the book we carried out ethnographic interviews. This approach combines visual and sensory experiences to provide insight into the subjects’ life stories beyond the “visible” and explain the “in depth” historical meaning. This material provided information essential to create both written stories and illustrations presented in the book. The structure of the product was crafted as follows:

  • A prologue where we explain the theoretical and historical importance of recording these life stories in the midst of a world pandemic.
  • A segment we called an “instructive” that leads the reader on how to read and approach the stories found in the book. 
  • Followed by 10 chapters: each chapter dedicated to a specific woman we interviewed.
  • The book, the making-of video and the illustrations are an essential part of communicating our research: all of which were entirely designed by us.

You can find the making-of video and a preview of the book, which includes the prologue and the first three chapters, here in the Columbia Global Centers | Santiago website.

Interviewing, writing and illustrating female stories for this project has shown the different circumstances and experiences women live throughout their lives. Accounts of migration, racism, sexism, poverty, motherhood and identity are not experienced equally among the main characters of the book. Each story, paired with its own visual illustration, helps the audience understand the value and uniqueness of each plot.

This book and the process of creating it showcased in the video presented on the website are a small archive of the private female world in Chile during COVID-19. A literary exercise based on oral history and art where the combination of a creative design, art and literature functions as a multi-purpose archive of a historical period in contemporary history. More so, it is a record for voices of women who have been under-studied and under-exposed in official accounts.

Amidst the differences found in each life story, there is a common thread that intertwines female experiences. Women are extraordinary community leaders and resilient citizens who have been made invisible for public institutions and political arena. They are many times unassisted and unseen by the state, leaving them isolated and in hardship. The stories collected in this book are a testament to female ingenuity, creativity and strength. We welcome you to watch our video, where you can find the creative and intellectual process that shaped this project and a preview of the book, so you can start dwelling into these amazing life stories. Follow Columbia Global Centers | Santiago for future news of the book and its publication in 2021.


Take a look at the preview of: “Diosas de lo íntimo” here.