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Enduring Violence

Enduring Violence: Ladina Women's Lives in Guatemala

Cecilia Menjívar
Copyright Date: 2011
Edition: 1
Pages: 304
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  • Book Info
    Enduring Violence
    Book Description:

    Drawing on revealing, in-depth interviews, Cecilia Menjívar investigates the role that violence plays in the lives of Ladina women in eastern Guatemala, a little-visited and little-studied region. While much has been written on the subject of political violence in Guatemala, Menjívar turns to a different form of suffering—the violence embedded in institutions and in everyday life so familiar and routine that it is often not recognized as such. Rather than painting Guatemala (or even Latin America) as having a cultural propensity for normalizing and accepting violence, Menjívar aims to develop an approach to examining structures of violence—profound inequality, exploitation and poverty, and gender ideologies that position women in vulnerable situations— grounded in women’s experiences. In this way, her study provides a glimpse into the root causes of the increasing wave of feminicide in Guatemala, as well as in other Latin American countries, and offers observations relevant for understanding violence against women around the world today.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-94841-9
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  4. CHAPTER 1 Approaching Violence in Eastern Guatemala
    (pp. 1-26)

    Much has been written about violence in Guatemala, a country that has come to be known for the contrast between its spectacular beauty and its unspeakable suffering. This book, however, is not about the direct, political violence in the highlands (Altiplano) targeting the Maya, a form of violence for which Guatemala has long been known. It is about the everyday violence in the lives of ladinas in Oriente, eastern Guatemala, where few outsiders, either scholars or tourists, venture to visit. It is about violence not directly attributable to individual actions intended to cause harm but embedded in institutions and in...

  5. CHAPTER 2 A Framework for Examining Violence
    (pp. 27-62)

    The first epigraph above points to the usefulness of opening up the analytic lens to examine instances of violence beyond those embodied in physical pain and injury, and the second brings up reflections on everyday violence in the world of the women I came to know. Both express the enduring reality of violence that crosses multiple spaces and spheres of life, and they elucidate the two aspects of violence I wish to examine in this book: the multifaceted character of violence and its expression in the quotidian lives of ladina women that contributes to its normalization.¹ Raka Ray and Seemin...

  6. CHAPTER 3 Corporeal Dimensions of Gender Violence: Woman’s Self and Body
    (pp. 63-97)

    Both gendered and symbolic violence are central to an examination of the embodiment of suffering, not only in the personal, individual dimensions of the physical body, but in its social dimensions as well. In social science theory there have been multiple approaches to the examination of bodily themes and questions surrounding the body, from postmodernist to poststructuralist (see Williams 1999). Green (1998) calls for attention to concrete manifestations of suffering in theorizing about how suffering is embodied, as violence inscribes the body with message and significance.

    Heeding Green’s call, I focus here on concrete corporeal manifestations of different forms of...

  7. CHAPTER 4 Marital Unions and the Normalization of Suffering
    (pp. 98-129)

    In this chapter I discuss a sphere of women’s lives that brings to the fore the normalization of gender hierachies in San Alejo. In keeping with the overall argument of this book and with the analytic lens I presented in chapter 2, I call attention to the institutional and structural dimensions of women’s suffering. These include not only the role of markets and governments but also the reproduction of power differentials and inequalities at an intimate level. Thus this chapter traces the links between the women’s internalized humiliations and indignities and the legitimations of gender inequalities in the home, a...

  8. CHAPTER 5 Children, Motherhood, and the Routinization of Pain and Sacrifice
    (pp. 130-162)

    Maxine Molyneux (2006: 427) observes that although Latin American women have entered the workforce and gained access to health care and education, “by broad consensus their primary duties lay within the family.” Thus images of Latin American women as devoted mothers, as Estrella sees herself, are prototypical and often based onmarianismo,“the cult of feminine spiritual superiority that teaches that women are semi-divine, morally superior to and spiritually stronger than men” (Stevens 1973: 91), a concept that is thought to be in “reciprocal agreement” (99) withmachismo.The substantial body of scholarship on this topic finds these representations rooted...

  9. CHAPTER 6 Women’s Work: Normalizing and Sustaining Gender Inequality
    (pp. 163-194)

    When issues of women’s status are discussed, particular attention is given to the link between women’s work—reproductive and productive, remunerated and unpaid—and equality. Indeed, interest in this link developed from feminist critiques of theories that emphasized the separation between home and work, “ignoring the household as the locus of social reproduction” (López Estrada 2003: 174). Thus this nexus has been examined from a variety of analytic angles, disciplinary approaches that range from the social sciences to the humanities, and through a vast range of empirical observations from around the world. As a result, there is a voluminous body...

  10. CHAPTER 7 Church, Religion, and Enduring Everyday Violence
    (pp. 195-225)

    There has been significant scholarly attention to religion in Latin America, especially to the role it has played in contemporary social change in the region, with a focus on the social justice work of the progressive Catholic Church and its base communities and on the conversion of millions of local residents to Protestantism. And Catholic and Protestant churches have played a pivotal role throughout the region before, during, and after the political conflicts of the past several decades; Central American countries, in particular, Guatemala and El Salvador, are emblematic in this regard. This involvement has ranged from calls for and...

  11. CHAPTER 8 Enduring Violence
    (pp. 226-238)

    My primary goal in this book has been to shed light on the often hidden sources of violence and suffering in the everyday lives of Guatemalan women. I have argued that violence does not reside only in individuals’ intentional acts to inflict pain on others. Instead, my analysis has pointed to the multiple sources of violence and away from the motivations of individuals, in an attempt to redirect the analytical gaze to the violence that comes from the economic, social, and political structures that generate suffering in the lives of women. Even as I have made use of individual cases...

  12. Appendix
    (pp. 239-240)
  13. Notes
    (pp. 241-254)
  14. References
    (pp. 255-272)
  15. Index
    (pp. 273-288)
  16. Back Matter
    (pp. 289-290)