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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Las Mujeres Qué Nos Sostienen: Reproductive Justice in the United States and El Salvador

  • Author(s): Linton, Mellissa Franceska
  • Advisor(s): Le Espiritu, Yen
  • Vora, Kalindi
  • et al.

This dissertation focuses on semi-structured and informal interviews with five Salvadoran activists living in the U.S. diaspora that transnational support Central American national politics, five Central American asylum seekers, and several activists that work in San Salvador. Using interdisciplinary methods like critical ethnography and participant observation, I explore the transnational, intergenerational organizers in the Salvadoran U.S. diaspora that use reproductive justice to connect to an array of activist communities in the U.S. and El Salvador.

Critical ethnography and cultural studies are important methods for this dissertation because it affords me the opportunity to move from a fixed set of moments or knowledge while also attending to the complexity of lived reality, and the position of the researcher (Madison, 2012). My participant observation hours at marches, protests, meetings and informal conversations in both San Salvador and the U.S took place with three organizations: CISPES (The Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador), the San Diego Migrant and Refugee Coalition and the Otay Mesa Detention Resistance (San Diego/Tijuana). I discuss not only reproductive autonomy, but also the right to “reproduce” children and communities in healthy and safe environments by introducing water privatization and migrant rights and reproductive justice concerns. My intervention in ethnic studies and queer of color critique as a Central American scholar are to extend the reproductive justice issue beyond a North American and heteronormative context. In my expanded conceptualization, reproductive justice constitutes forms of life-giving power that move care work beyond biological understandings of the reproductive.

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