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Casa Amiga: Feminist Community-Building in Ciudad Juárez as an Alternative to the Structural Violence of Globalization Joanna Swanger Presentation by: Meghan Murphy
Casa Amiga The first crisis center for women in Northern Mexico. It is located in Ciudad Juárez, which is on the border next to El Paso, Texas. • -It focuses on issues of Domestic Violence, and addressing the "femicide" that was occurring. • Femicide: a wave of unsolved murders of 340 women in the past twelve years (2005). Most were young (teenage-to early 20's) and worked in the maquiladoras, and many share indigenous features that would mark them as outsiders. • -In 2004, Casa Amiga had 20 paid workers: 13 of whom worked in Casa Amiga, and 7 of whom worked in the Refugio (the shelter for families in high-risk situations). They also had 40 volunteers.
Thesis "I argue that Casa Amiga does indeed make a connection between globalization and violence against women and children, in that both are processes of dehumanization and manifestation of alienation; and that Casa Amiga creates a local alternative to globalization through working to restore a sense of empowerment and multidimensional humanity--i.e., through community building."
Globalization and Violence against Women: Manifestations of Alienation on the Border • Globalization as a reason for domestic violence and "femicide" • -Because they want cheap laborers, women take up jobs; giving them more financial freedoms, and less time in the home. • -Women began to have social lives-- going against the cultural norms of Mexican society • -People said that the victims of the "femicide" brought it upon themselves when they transgressed gender roles. • -The understanding of gender is changing faster than the men can tolerate and accept.. • Globalization as a structural violence towards women • -The maquiladoras are exploiting the women. Treating them as instruments of production rather than as humans.
Globalization and Violence against Women: Manifestations of Alienation on the Border contd. • Globalization leads to Alienation • - Most of the women (and their families) migrated from other areas of Mexico, and so they lack a sense of community. • -People in the border region feel the pressures of high unemployment rates, and have the mindset of struggling to survive on one's own. • -There is a diminishing sense of culture as well, as globalization/corporations homogenize the different communities • -"femicide" is seen as the most severe manifestation of alienation
Tearing Down the Walls Upholding the Culture of Impunity: Demanding Accountability -"Culture of Impunity": The people committing the "femicides" got away with their crimes because the authorities took no drastic action against them. -This can be translated onto a global scale... • -culture of capitalism as ways of rewarding unethical behavior and punishing ethical behavior • -the workers of Ciudad Juárez can not take collective action against the corporations for fear of relocation-- resulting in mass unemployment and poverty. They must resort to individual survival skills further encouraging alienation. • -"Individual responsibility" as the key to economic growth-- while the "public good" and "community" are seen as economic hindrances...
The Radical Act of Creating Community -Casa Amiga as a alternative way of living amidst the alienation and violence that is brought into Ciudad Juárez by globalization -Culture of Solidarity: Through the community that is created through Casa Amiga, the burdens of one are shared and confronted collectively destroying the ideas of alienation. -Feminism: Casa Amiga uses "Feminist Therapy" and workshops to help empower the victims of domestic violence. • -Feminism as a struggle for equality • -Consciousness-raising -Convivio: the qualities that arise when people congregate with a common purpose that includes the enjoyment of life [sharing, positive energy, warmth, good humor, etc.] • -creating an atmosphere of contentment and security
Conclusions -Subtle resistance (like that of Casa Amiga) play a crucial role in the social movements because of it's endurance and lack of major confrontation and alienation that leads to violence and unintended consequences • -greater opportunity to create alliances across lines of race, nationality and class -By building and spreading a culture of respect and solidarity each day, Casa Amiga is helping the steady creation of a new social consciousness, culture, and form of ethics that is necessary to challenge globalization and capitalism.