Landscapes of Impunity and the Deaths of Americans LaVena Johnson and Sandra Bland

Citation:

Dowler, Lorraine, and Jenna Christian. 2019. "Landscapes of Impunity and the Deaths of Americans LaVena Johnson and Sandra Bland." Gender, Place & Culture: A Journal of Feminist Geography 26 (6): 813-29.

Authors: Lorraine Dowler, Jenna Christian

Abstract:

On July 19th, 2005, American Army Private First Class LaVena Johnson died in Balad, Iraq, just 8 days shy of her 20th birthday. On July 13th, 2015, almost 10 years later, 28-year-old Sandra Bland’s life came to an abrupt end in a jail cell in Waller County, Texas. Both women’s deaths were ruled suicides, and both women’s families and friends reject these judgments. Instead, they insinuate foul play by the state, which directly governed the militarized spaces within which the women both died. At first glance, these women appear to have had very different life trajectories, one a United States soldier and the other a Black Lives Matter activist. However, in both of their cases, the ruling of the suspicious deaths as suicides illustrates the state’s attempt to render their deaths banal, and thereby diminish the state’s own culpability. In understanding the unremitting acts of violence, on women’s bodies, especially women of color, this paper focuses on how a Black feminist praxis extends feminist notions of an ethics of care.

Keywords: care, gender, military violence, police violence, race

Topics: Combatants, Female Combatants, Feminisms, Justice, Impunity, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Militarization, Race, Violence Regions: Americas, North America Countries: United States of America

Year: 2019

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