Bodies in Crisis: Culture, Violence, and Women's Resistance in Neoliberal Argentina

Bodies in Crisis: Culture, Violence, and Women's Resistance in Neoliberal Argentina

Bodies in Crisis: Culture, Violence, and Women's Resistance in Neoliberal Argentina

Bodies in Crisis: Culture, Violence, and Women's Resistance in Neoliberal Argentina

Synopsis

Born and raised in Argentina and still maintaining significant ties to the area, Barbara Sutton examines the complex, and often hidden, bodily worlds of diverse women in that country during a period of profound social upheaval. Based primarily on women's experiential narratives and set against the backdrop of a severe economic crisis and intensified social movement activism post-2001, Bodies in Crisis illuminates how multiple forms of injustice converge in and are contested through women's bodies. Sutton reveals the bodily scars of neoliberal globalization; women's negotiation of cultural norms of femininity and beauty; experiences with clandestine, illegal, and unsafe abortions; exposure to and resistance against interpersonal and structural violence; and the role of bodies as tools and vehicles of political action.

Through the lens of women's body consciousness in a Global South country, and drawing on multifaceted stories and a politically embedded approach, Bodies in Crisis suggests that social policy, economic systems, cultural ideologies, and political resistance are ultimately fleshly matters.

Excerpt

In December 2001, the world’s attention turned to Argentina. the Argentine economy collapsed, food riots spread across the country, and the president declared a state of emergency that would limit freedom of movement and assembly. Masses of people openly defied the presidential decision, flooding the streets in protest. This citizen uprising was the culmination of years of economic restructuring in line with neoliberal globalization. Far from the promised prosperity, this economic model worsened the standard of living of most of the population and left millions of people impoverished. These events opened a period of intense social mobilization and community organizing that countered the assumptions underlying both corporate globalization and electoral democracy. Many Argentines had to reinvent themselves to survive adversity and experimented with communal kitchens, bartering clubs, workers-run factories, popular assemblies, and other forms of collective organizing. Women played vital roles in the emergent social change struggles, to the point that women’s movement activists spoke about this phenomenon as the “feminization of resistance” (Borland and Sutton 2007; Korol 2004). in this context of economic crisis and heightened political protest, I returned to Argentina—my country of origin—to conduct research on the politics of women’s bodies.

During this tumultuous period, women’s bodies became embattled sites, shaken by the crisis, but also actively engaged in the construction of a new society and new models of womanhood. Activist women’s demands were wide ranging, and they gained momentum during this time of despair and hope. Their grievances included an array of bodily issues, such as child malnourishment and hunger, inadequate access to quality health care, state repression that killed or injured citizens’ bodies, pervasive physical violence against women, restrictions to the free expression of sexuality, and the criminalization of abortion. This book narrates the stories of diverse women in Buenos Aires, Argentina, at a time (2002–2003) that offered a critical vantage point from which to learn about the . . .

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