Feminist, educator, and activist Rita Arditti received a doctorate in biology at the University of Rome, spent ten years doing lab science, and then changed careers to teach interdisciplinary studies. Science and Liberation, Test-Tube Women: What Future for Motherhood , and Searching for Life: The Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo and the Disappeared Children of Argentinaare her best-known publications. Her writings about her experience growing up Sephardic in an Ashkenazi-dominant Jewish community have helped readers understand the Sephardic experience. She lived for over thirty years with metastatic breast cancer and wrote that story too. The struggle of the Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo to find their missing grandchildren led Arditti to educate others about what happened in Argentina.
Rita Arditti describes growing up in a Jewish Sephardic family in Buenos Aires, Argentina. She says being part of a religious minority in a country that is 95% Catholic inspired her later political activism. Arditti talks about her move to Italy when she was twenty years old, where she studied science at the University of Rome. She moved to the United States in 1965 for postgraduate work as a researcher at Brandeis University and then Harvard Medical School. Arditti describes her involvement in Science for the People and the Women’s Movement, working to address inequalities for women in science and society. She describes being diagnosed with breast cancer in 1974, calling it the “dark ages” of cancer research and awareness. Arditti recounts her early involvement with the Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo, a human rights organization seeking to locate illegally adopted children during the Argentina’s National Reorganization Process, a military dictatorship that lasted from 1976 to 1983. Arditti worked first as a fundraiser and advocate, and later became involved in interviewing the mothers and grandmothers and published Searching for Life: The Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo and the Disappeared Children of Argentina about their experience. Arditti reflects on human rights issues, her role models, and the impact of her work with the mothers and grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo.
How to cite this page
Oral History of Rita Arditti. Interviewed by Julie Johnson. 14 March 2005. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on November 28, 2023) <https://jwa.org/oralhistories/arditti-rita>.
Oral History of Rita Arditti by the Jewish Women's Archive is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at https://jwa.org/contact/OralHistory.