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Traumatic States

Gendered Violence, Suffering, and Care in Chile

Nia Parson

Publication Year: 2013

The end of the Pinochet regime in Chile saw the emergence of an organized feminist movement that influenced legal and social responses to gender-based violence, and with it new laws and avenues for reporting violence that never before existed. What emerged were grassroots women's rights organizations, challenging and engaging the government and NGOs to confront long-ignored problems in responding to marginalized victims.

In Traumatic States, anthropologist Nia Parson explores the development of methods of care and recovery from domestic violence. She interviews and contextualizes the lives of numerous individuals who have confronted these acts, as victims, authorities, and activists. Ultimately, Traumatic States argues that facing the challenges of healing both body and mind, and addressing the fundamental inequalities that make those challenges even more formidable, are part of the same battle.

Published by: Vanderbilt University Press


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pp. 1-3

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. 4-7

Table of Contents

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pp. vii-viii


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pp. ix-xviii

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pp. 1-8

On a late afternoon in the early fall of 2002 Luz stumbled her way from her house in a suburb of Santiago to a nearby street corner, her chest bathed in blood, a bullet lodged in her chest. Her husband had shot her at point-blank range in their bedroom, almost mortally wounding her. The doctors told her later that her survival was miraculous...

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1. Unfinished Care

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pp. 9-39

The experiences of Luz, Marisol, Josefina, and other women highlight various types of violence, care-seeking, and continual processes of recovering some aspects of a life after death. This book shows how Luz, Marisol, and Josefina, in particular, are continually reordering their senses of themselves in the never-ending present as they review wounds...

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2. Feeling the State's Gaze on Intimate Violence

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pp. 40-53

One Friday evening in March 2003, as dusk settled over Santiago, I watched Ema pore over Safe Space’s files, filled with cases of women who had suffered violence by men with whom they had lived and shared a life. I remember each of the women Ema introduced me to over the phone that evening, but Marisol chose to build a friendship...

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3. "Exhaustion": Becoming a Victim and a Deserving Citizen

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pp. 54-88

“He came back, no más, ’po [just like that],” Marisol told me matter-of-factly in 2009 in the house she rented in a small town near the Chilean coast, about one and a half hours by bus from Santiago. It was situated on a dirt road just beyond where the paved road ended. She pointed my attention to the boarded-up hole in her living room window and to...

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4. Entanglements of Violence and Individualized "Cures"

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pp. 89-109

I met Josefina in 2003 at Family Care during the weekly group therapy sessions that I observed there for six months, the full course of the sessions. She was then around forty-seven years old and had been married for thirty-four years to a man more than a decade her senior. Josefina was always meticulously dressed, with perfectly drawn makeup and...

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5. Sanacion: Excavating the "Ordinary" to Move beyond Violence and Misery

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pp. 110-136

“My history has many marks of violence,” Luz told me in 2009 as we sat at a busy Santiago restaurant, an audio recorder between us on the table.1
One type of violence that I suffered was when I was in my mother’s belly, and my mother wanted to have a son. She didn’t want to...

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6. Contingencies of Care

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pp. 137-158

Late one night in 2007, in the middle of a major multilane traffic artery in Santiago, a man brutally beat a woman unconscious, leaving her there. A bystander used his cell-phone camera to record the horrific scene, and Terra, a Chilean Internet-based news site, later reported on it. In the video we see the woman lying helplessly in the middle of...

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7. The Ills of Medicalizing Violence and the Work of Ethnography in Processes of Care

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pp. 159-168

A violent and catastrophic “event” does not have to happen all at once. The violent event can be a sum total of everyday forms of violence that congeal over time. For Luz, Marisol, and Josefina various forms of everyday violence coalesced to become the event that produced the poisonous knowledge that they continuously worked through. Conceptualizing...

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Appendix 1: Life History Interviews

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pp. 169-172

The life history narrative was the primary form of data collection I employed to answer research questions. Life history narratives are crucial for gathering data about how women’s experiences of health and illness are related to social, political, economic, and cultural contexts and women’s particular situations within these contexts. These data...

Appendix 2

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pp. 173-174


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pp. 175-184

Works Cited

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pp. 185-200


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pp. 201-204

E-ISBN-13: 9780826518972
E-ISBN-10: 0826518974
Print-ISBN-13: 9780826518958

Page Count: 248
Publication Year: 2013