Enduring Violence: Ladina Women's Lives in Guatemala

Enduring Violence: Ladina Women's Lives in Guatemala

Enduring Violence: Ladina Women's Lives in Guatemala

Enduring Violence: Ladina Women's Lives in Guatemala


Drawing on revealing, in-depth interviews, Cecilia Menjévar 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, Menjévar 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, Menjévar 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.


The aim of the psychological war is to win people’s “hearts
and minds” so that they accept the requirements of the
dominant order and, consequently, accept as good and
even “natural” whatever violence may be necessary to
maintain it.

—Ignacio Martín-Baró, “Violence in Central America”

Rather than view violence … simply as a set of discrete
events, which quite obviously it also can be, the perspective
I am advancing seeks to unearth those entrenched processes
of ordering the social world and making (or realizing)
culture that themselves are forms of violence: violence that
is multiple, mundane, and perhaps all the more fundamen
tal because it is the hidden or secret violence out of which
images of people are shaped, experiences of groups are
coerced, and agency itself is engendered.

—Arthur Kleinman, “The Violences of Everyday Life”

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 quotidian . . .

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