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The Architecture of Violence in the Lives of Young Latinas


This dissertation considers violence in the lives of 5 young Latinas in San Francisco's Mission District. Through critical ethnography, longitudinal interviews and phenomenological case narratives, this dissertation traces the ways these young Latinas endure violence in the streets and in their homes through intimate violence, gang violence, military invasion, family separation, and more. The community based research approach applies grounded theory, decolonizing and liberatory research methodologies intent on doing justice through the research process. A nexus of transdisciplinary theoretical frameworks including Chicana and Black feminisms, feminisms of color, postcolonial, and neo-Marxian theories and feminisms anchor this dissertation.

Whereas the substantial body of research on this issue posits violence as an (pathologized) aberrant behavior occasionally encountered, these young women concur that violence is a daily reality they experience everywhere, coming from multiple directions and appearing in multiple ways, spanning from state violence to intimate violence. These findings lead to a proposed model to consider the social "architecture of violence" from the vantage point of Latinas and women of color. The model addresses the core roots of manifestations of violence, including physical, ideological and spiritual manifestations of violence. I argue that individualizing, racialized, colonial and heteropatriarchal narratives of medicalization and criminalization inform the dominant approaches to the study of violence and to corresponding movements and policy interventions, thereby reproducing violence against women of color and people of color. Instead, I propose we consider the intersecting social forces of inequality, state and economic arrangements, institutional violence and individual complicity with said social violences to better understand and therefore prevent violence. The model situates the social "structuration of violence" in order to facilitate the interrogation and accountability of all parties responsible in the deployment of violence, including the macro-structural and institutional conditioning and conjuring of intimate and interpersonal violence. This approach to the study of violence against women builds on models of state and structural violence, and furthers them by introducing intersectional analytical frameworks that consider the ways violence is produced at all levels through what I call the "archetypes of violence," that is the intersecting deployment of racial, colonial, class, and sex/gendering/heteronormative violence that are endemic and co-constitutive of social processes of inequality.

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