"Subjects of Change": Feminist Geopolitics and Gendered Truth-Telling in Guatemala

Citation:

Patterson-Markowitz, Rebecca, Elizabeth Oglesby, and Sallie Marston. 2012. “‘ Subjects of Change’: Feminist Geopolitics and Gendered Truth-Telling in Guatemala.” Journal of International Women’s Studies 13 (4): 82.

Authors: Rebecca Patterson-Markowitz, Elizabeth Oglesby, Sallie Marston

Abstract:

This paper explores the often-undervalued role of gender in transitional justice mechanisms and the importance of women's struggles and agency in that regard. We focus on the efforts of the women's movement in Guatemala to address questions of justice and healing for survivors of gendered violence during Guatemala's 36-year internal armed conflict. We discuss how the initial transitional justice measures of documenting gendered war crimes in the context of a genocide were subsequently taken up by the women's movement and how their endeavors to further expose sexual violence have resulted in notable interventions. Interviews with key organizational activists as well as testimonies given by victims of sexual violence during the conflict suggest that transitional justice mechanisms, extended by women's movements' efforts, are creating conditions for the emergence of new practices and spaces that support the fragile cultivation of new subjectivities. Sujetas de cambio (subjects of change) are premised not on victimhood but survivorhood. The emergence of these new subjectivities and new claims, including greater personal security and freedom from everyday violence, must be approached with caution, however, as they are not born automatically out of the deeply emotional struggles that play out around historical memory. Still, their emergence suggests new ways for women to cope not only with the sexual violence of the past but also to work against the normative violence that is part of their present.

Keywords: gendered violence, historical memory, transitional justice

Topics: Armed Conflict, Feminisms, Gender, Women, Genocide, Justice, Transitional Justice, Rights, Human Rights, Sexual Violence, Rape, SV against women, Violence Regions: Americas, Central America Countries: Guatemala

Year: 2012

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