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Life in Debt

Times of Care and Violence in Neoliberal Chile

Clara Han (Author)

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Paperback, 298 pages
ISBN: 9780520272101
June 2012
$28.95, £19.95
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Chile is widely known as the first experiment in neoliberalism in Latin America, carried out and made possible through state violence. Since the beginning of the transition in 1990, the state has pursued a national project of reconciliation construed as debts owed to the population. The state owed a “social debt” to the poor accrued through inequalities generated by economic liberalization, while society owed a “moral debt” to the victims of human rights violations. Life in Debt invites us into lives and world of a poor urban neighborhood in Santiago. Tracing relations and lives between 1999 and 2010, Clara Han explores how the moral and political subjects imagined and asserted by poverty and mental health policies and reparations for human rights violations are refracted through relational modes and their boundaries. Attending to intimate scenes and neighborhood life, Han reveals the force of relations in the making of selves in a world in which unstable work patterns, illness, and pervasive economic indebtedness are aspects of everyday life. Lucidly written, Life in Debt provides a unique meditation on both the past inhabiting actual life conditions but also on the difficulties of obligation and achievements of responsiveness.
Acknowledgments

Introduction
1. Symptoms of Another Life
2. Social Debt, Silent Gift
3. Torture, Love, and the Everyday
4. Neoliberal Depression
5. Community Experiments
6. Life and Death, Care and Neglect
Conclusion: Relations and Time

Notes
References
Index
Clara Han is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Johns Hopkins University.
“Han's exploration of how care and violence are constructed and lived through multiple levels of debt is thought-provoking, engaging, insightful, thoroughly researched and theoretically nuanced.”—Deborah R. Altamirano Times Higher Education
“Brimming with insights and textures. . . . Han brilliantly, often quite beautifully, fleshes out the intersections between the existential and the economic. . . . This book has much to contribute to the global scholarship on debt, beyond the Chilean and Latin American context.”—Larisa Jasarevic Somatosphere
Life in Debt will become, I predict, one of the classic ethnographies in the anthropological study of state violence, community responses, and the moral life of the global poor. Relating economic and political debt, financial and psychological depression, and caregiving by ordinary people and by social institutions, Clara Han maps our brave new world just about as illuminatingly as it has been done. A remarkable achievement.” -Arthur Kleinman, Harvard University

“In this highly sophisticated take on the ironies of neoliberal social reforms, the corporate sector, consumer culture, and chronic underemployment, nothing can be read literally. Han transforms underclass urban ethnography in Latin America by bringing readers directly into the intimate flow of relationships, experiences, and emotions in family life on the margins of Santiago, Chile." -Kay Warren, Director, Pembroke Center, Brown University.

"People-centered, movingly written, and analytically probing, Life in Debt deals with both the human costs and the changing structures of power driven by contemporary dynamics of neoliberalism. Combining a deep and nuanced understanding of Chile's history with a longitudinal and heart-wrenching field-based knowledge of the everyday travails of the urban poor, Clara Han has crafted an exceptional analysis of human transformations in the face of political violence and economic insecurity." -João Biehl, author of Vita: Life in a Zone of Social Abandonment

"During ten years, Clara Han has gathered fragments of biographies and moments of lives to recreate the experience of Chileans after Pinochet’s dictatorship. Her vivid ethnography plunges into the moral economy of a society entangled between memory and pardon, revealing the ethical work undertaken by those who accept the present without disclaiming the past." -Didier Fassin, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, author of Humanitarian Reason

Chapter 1

Symptoms of Another Life

A Time of Pure Nerves

"Pure nerves." Sra. Flora crumbled a soda cracker in her hands. It was the afternoon of Easter 2004 in La Pincoya. She had invited me to help her prepare an elaborate Easter lunch for her extended family. But the festive plans had abruptly dissolved with the news that her partner, Rodrigo, had lost his job in a textile factory where he had worked for the past twenty-five years. Instead, bites of homemade bread and sips of sugared tea mingled with stifled conversation.

Sra. Flora, Rodrigo, tío Ricardo, and Sra. Flora's daughters and grandchildren lived together in a two-story house that was a process of autoconstruction. First-floor brick rooms joined others of corrugated iron insulated with drywall. Above them, wood beams and iron sheets made a second floor. Outside, a gate of blue-painted iron bars and sheeting bounded the front patio. As part of the toma (land seizure) of 1970 that gave rise to La Pincoya, Sra. Flora and her former husband arrived on this plot of land with little more than a tent. They first built their home with materia scavenged from construction sites.

After her separation from her husband in the late 1970s, Sra. Flora and her new partner, Rodrigo, continued to build and furnish the home through bank loans and department store credit. Her daughters Carmen and Sonia, both single and in their midthirties lived on the second floor, each with two children. Separated by a thin wall was tío Ricardo's small room. On the first floor, Sra. Flora's twenty-five-year-old daughter, Valentina, shared a room with twenty-four-year-old Margarita, an adopted niece with cerebral pay. And in a room abutting that of Sra. Flora and Rodrigo, her thirty-year-old daughter, Florcita, lived with her partner, Kevin, and their two children.

Rodrigo's job loss had rippled through family relations. Carmen and Sonia worked in unstable jobs that often changed month to month: office cleaning, stocking supermarket shelves, selling pirated CDs. They would have to take on extra hours to pay the utility bil and the monthly quotas on debts until Rodrigo could find another job, but they faced the prospect with a mixture of resignation and frustration. The affects of working overtime ao intensified anger toward Florcita and Kevin, who had begun to drink hard liquor again, stealing and selling household foodstuffs to purchase pisco (hard liquor). Florcita was in danger of losing her job as a teacher's aide. Kevin, just released from a one-month psychiatric internment for addiction to pasta base (cocaine base paste) and for manic depression, paced the house nervously and angrily all day long. In a confrontation between the three sisters shortly before I arrived, Sra. Flora had stepped in to defend Florcita. "You always paint her as the bad one in the movie," she said. Carmen and Sonia had walked out. Shortly after, Florcita left the house with Kevin and the children.

As Sra. Flora recounted the detai of the argument to me that Easter, she crumbled cracker after cracker between her fingers. Rodrigo sighed heavily and went to the door to smoke a cigarette. The tensions, she said, were "eating my nerves." She pointed to a framed black-and-white photo hanging on the wall behind me. The photo was taken before she'd moved to Santiago in the early 1960s. With long, curly dark hair and a white apron tied around her slim waist, she stood smiling behind a table stacked with homemade bread. Comparing her body then and now, she said, "Todo esto"-the economic precariousness, the debts, the smoldering frustration with Florcita-"it makes me fat. If I eat, it's like I'm eating double." Protecting Florcita wove into the ongoing household economic pressures, and Sra. Flora embodied all this, literally speaking, through her nerves.

Sra. Flora's eaten nerves speak to intersecting dynamics of care, illness, and economic indebtedness within the domestic (see Arriagada 2010; Valdés et al. 2005; X. Valdés 2007). What are temporal and moral textures of this care? Let us move in time with Sra. Flora and her intimate relations. Can this movement in time attune us to care as a kind of "active awaiting" (Cavell 2005, 136)? By this phrase, I mean a patience for the possible, which draws on the hope that relations could change with time. In this chapter, I consider how this "active awaiting" draws on a wider network of dependencies that provide the temporal and material resources for this care. Waiting revea how domestic relations with neighbors and institutions of credit both mesh with and create cuts in intimate relations. It helps us flesh out the problem of responsibility for and to kin.

"Today, all of us are subjects of credit"

In June 2005, the Chilean Central Bank published its Report on Financial Stability for the Second Semester of 2005. Charting the expansive progression of the Chilean economy, the report states in its principal summary: "This positive economic situation has ushered in a greater dynamic of consumption and investment during the present year. The interest rates continue stimulating the expansion of credit. The debt of households continues increasing at elevated rates, rates that are greater than the growth of their incomes" (Banco Central de Chile 2005, 7). Between September 2004 and September 2005, the level of household indebtedness from mortgages increased 17 percent and the level of indebtedness tied to department stores and bank loans increased by 21 percent. Meanwhile, disposable household incomes increased by only 9 percent (p. 38).

Chile's leading conservative newspaper, El Mercurio, publicized the figures, citing the combined generation of credit sources and increasing indebtedness as both "good and bad news" for the consumer. Attempting to dispel anxiety over these figures, Raimundo Monge, the chief of strategic planning at the Spanish-owned Santander Bank and the president of the Banking Committee for the Association of Banks in Chile, placed them within a narrative of national development based on the expansion of the market: "Indebtedness is natural in an economy that is growing and that has better prospects and more trust.... The greater the development of the country, the greater will be persons' debts. In fact, the report of the Central Bank notes that the indebtedness [in Chile] is less than in developed countries" (quoted in Rivas 2006).

The circulation of such numbers in the media-and the discourses in which they are rendered socially and politically intelligible-points to public anxieties and ambivalences over indebtedness, which has become a narrative linchpin in both left- and right-wing politics. Spurred by increasing income inequality, job insecurity, and state regulation favorable toward lending institutions, the consumer credit industry in Chile is one of the most powerful in Latin America. It has grown significantly since the democratic transition in 1990. In 1993, there were approximately 1.3 million department store credit cards in circulation. By 1997, this number had escalated to 5.2 million, and by 1999, when I began my fieldwork in La Pincoya, there were 7 million (PNUD 2002). As of 2008, there were approximately 29 million nonbank credit cards in circulation, averaging 3.5 cards per person (Varas C. 2008).

Department stores such as Almacenes París and Falabella not only offer credit cards but ao have opened their own banks. Supermarkets, such as Supermercados Líder, as well as pharmacies, now offer their own credit and cash advances. Credit cards, according to Superintendent of Banks Enrique Marshall, make up more than half of the financial utility of department stores: "The cards of department stores have registered an unusual development, something that you do not see in other parts of the world where this business is purely in banking" (quoted in Fazio 2005, 180). By 2006, the national census showed that low-income populations earning between USD 110 and USD 300 per month were spending 36 percent of their monthly income on consumer debts (MIDEPLAN 2006).

Accompanying this credit expansion, however, are accounts portraying the dangers of indebtedness, the psychosocial causes of debt, and debt's psychological sequelae. For example, in June 2000, El Mercurio de Valparaíso ran an article, "The Risk of Living in Quotas," describing how a small-business owner had committed suicide because of his "overindebtedness": "Although suicide is not a generalized phenomenon, experts point out that this overindebtedness is inciting an increasing number of sick leave days because of depression" (El Mercurio de Valparaíso 2000). Responding to such dangers and risks, the National Corporation of Consumers and Users (Corporación Nacional de Consumidores y Usuarios), a nonprofit organization established in 2000, produced a two-part web-based video report titled Indebtedness: Indebted or Overindebted Chileans? A female reporter opens the report, remarking, "I have the impression that Chile, we Chileans, have changed. Today, all of us are subjects of credit. It doesn't matter how much we earn, where we live, they bombard us with offers to change the car, the television, the house, without caring about what income we have" (CONADECUS 2007).

While the mainstream media have tended to focus on the new consumer desires generated by the credit economy, among low-income populations credit has become a resource within the context of eroding and unstable wages, as well as of the privatization of public services. For example, political scientist Verónica Schild points out, "covering basic necessities such as health insurance, education fees and basic services through credit has become ubiquitous" (Schild 2007, 192). Yet accounts of economic indebtedness in Chile have hinged on the consumer subject and the control exerted through the credit system on workers, positing this neoliberal economic subject as either the starting point or the endpoint of analysis (Cruz Feliciano and Véliz Montero 2007; Moulian 1997). Attending to the difficulties in caring for kin, however, brings into focus how credit and experiences of economic indebtedness are mediated by "house relations" set within a wider field of domestic relations.

As I discussed in the introduction, the house is spoken of in terms of intimate kin relatedness-one's "house of blood"-and the obligations that come with kinship, "commitment to the house." The constant construction of the house, through renovation or mortgage payments, can be understood as a constant achieving of relatedness. These house relations are interconnected with intimate kin outside the house-through sisters, mothers, and daughters, as well as friends. This wider field of intimate kin and friends can be understood as domestic relations.

While domestic relations are not unique to Chile, the primacy of house relations and the extensive availability of credit to the poor give such relations a unique shape. For example, although Carol Stack's seminal work on domestic networks in poor African American communities resonates in part with these domestic relations, in Stack's account the spread of domestic activities shared across households and the constant movement of individua among rented residences render "which household a given individual belongs to a meaningless question" (Stack 1974, 90). Such a tenuous relation to the house contrasts sharply with relatedness in La Pincoya, where domestic relations beyond the house can be thought of in terms of their pull toward house relations, in which women may be engaged in helping one another across houses, but with the hope of affirming a relation within the house itself.

It is in the positioning between these house relations and the wider field of domestic relations that care for the mentally ill and addicted within the home takes shape. I want to return to Sra. Flora and her family to trace out how struggles over this care pull women between kinship relations within the house, and how women draw on domestic relations and institutional credit to affirm a child's place in the house.

Making Time

I met Sra. Flora in June 2000 on my second three-month stay in La Pincoya. Over eight years, I saw how constant economic precariousness often cast her affective stakes as mother and pareja (partner) against each other. The loss of Rodrigo's job in March 2004, however, sent the family into economic difficulties they had not experienced since the Pinochet era. Now, only one adult, Rodrigo's cousin, tío Ricardo, who continued to work in the same textile factory, had stable employment. With his lost wages and his difficulty finding temporary work, Rodrigo pressured Sra. Flora to address Florcita and Kevin's drug and alcohol use. Daughters Sonia and Carmen had ao heard rumors about them: Florcita was going door to door asking for money from neighbors. Kevin had been seen in a drug dealer's car. In this context, Sra. Flora invited me to meet with her, Florcita, and Kevin together.

With her blue-gray eyes and long, curly brown hair, Florcita inherited the youthful Sra. Flora's looks. Indeed, Sra. Flora invoked this likeness, especially when reflecting on Florcita's drug use. "She looks like me when I was young. But I say now that she was really beautiful. Now, she is getting destroyed by drinking and drugs." Florcita sat in the corner, hand on her chin, sullenly looking at the floor. Sra. Flora pressed them to speak. "Go ahead, tell her about your illness, about the drugs," she said, pointing to Kevin and then to both of them. Neither immediately spoke. But just as Florcita raised her head, Kevin cut her gesture off abruptly, pulling his chair toward me.

Since suffering a stroke in 2001, Kevin had experienced multiple panic attacks, fear, and waves of anger. He hurriedly spoke of his first "attack":

I had a stroke on the 22nd of December 2001. I was working late, going to bed late, getting up early. I was working as a bus driver [a city bus driver], arriving [home] at 2 A.M. and leaving at 4 or 5 in the morning. I was at the bus stop [in La Pincoya on the main street, Recoleta], and I felt a thing like brrrrbrrrrbrrrbrrr, brrrbrrrbrrr [he makes a twisting movement around his ear]. I was stuck there, and: "Ay, my God, what is happening to me?" I was taken to the emergency room [in the local primary care clinic] by my compañeros. They gave me an injection to calm me, and they said that I had depression, anxiety, and all of that stuff. Then from there they took me to the Psychiatric Hospital. They asked me lots of questions, and then they took me to a cardiologist. And then told me, Ya, you have a problem with your heart. This same cardiologist sent me to a neurologist, and they did a scanner on me, an electroencephalogram, a really complicated thing. And they found that my heart was bad.

After the stroke, Kevin acceded to a state pension for disability, which he called "retirement." The slowness of life at home, however, made him nervous and agitated.

I would like to return to working, but I have a bad [unfunctional] hand, a neurological damage that stays forever. They give me pil, but I walked around high, yellow [skin]-pure pil. You know, I will take pil for my nerves and nothing more. I am nervous. I feel like, how to put it, with what name ... It's like when a ball is bouncing like this, like papapapapapapa! all this year. My aggression, my violence, augmented. More than anything it's made me more aggressive. As a human being, I don't accept it. Until today, I do not accept that this happens. I don't accept it because I am thirty-two years old. I have half of my life in front of me, so ...

He paused. Bouncing his knee up and down, Kevin changed course. He recounted the circumstances that led up to his current state of illness.

All of a sudden, I had many goa. When I was mixed up in drugs, I said to myself, "I will jump out of this [doing pasta base]. I will buy all this stuff for myself [comprarme de todo], I will buy myself [things] from here and there." And I had the desire [tenía ganas de comparme un auto] to buy myself a car ao. Yes, I would buy a car. [He said this with a sense of wonder.] I would work for a car. So, I put myself to work, working, working, and working, and working, and working, and working, and working. I drove myself crazy working, but until even today I still have the desire to get up and go to work. But now, the rhythm that I have is very slow. Because I don't work, I can get up from bed at the hour that I want, and I don't have anything to do. Last night, I felt so alone, but I have the fear of being alone. And then, all of a sudden I got an attack [a panic attack] ... But, I opted to retire.

For Kevin, the desire and the wonder for the car could not be dissociated from a desire to work and to have a working body. Sra. Flora interjected, "He is very aggressive. He will break a cup for whatever reason. There is no control. It's like ... pap!" (She snaps her fingers).

"Does the illness affect your family?" I asked tentatively. "Not much," Kevin responded, leaning back in his chair. "Florcita is very tranquil. My woman, tranquil. She knows I am sick." Florcita shrugged her shoulders. Sra. Flora questioned him, contesting his seeming indifference. "Why were you working so hard? To reach the goa that you had?" Kevin responded, "Yes, because we lost everything when we were mixed up in drugs." Sra. Flora nodded. "And, this is when I began to gain weight," she said. She began to recount the damage that their previous addiction to pasta base had caused, as if to warn and remind them of what it could lead to in the present.

When Florcita and Kevin were involved in pasta base (metido en la pasta) in the late 1990s, the family's debts to department stores began to soar. Kevin and Florcita sold household possessions to buy pasta base. Cocaine base paste is similar to crack cocaine. Base paste is composed of the intermediary products in the purification of cocaine. Those products are cut with a host of available agents, such as neoprene and kerosene, and then can be smoked or snorted. Available national statistics report that the prevalence of base paste addiction comprises 0.6 percent of the total population (CONACE 2006). Yet such figures must be taken critically, given that the survey relies on self-reported use of an illegal substance. In La Pincoya, pasta base addiction has become a pervasive concern, provoked by a general sense that the number of neighborhood youth addicted to base is increasing.

"They sold everything," Sra. Flora said of Florcita and Kevin. "The TV, the stereo, a bed. They would steal when we were not in the house. They would steal if we did not have everything in the house under lock and key." During this period, they ao fought with each other in the home. Kevin flew into rages, resulting in broken wal, doors, and windows. These cycles of theft, destruction, and debt in households struggling with addiction to pasta base were familiar themes in La Pincoya. During this time, Flora said, monthly debt payments took up half of Rodrigo's income. In an act of desperation, she separated Kevin from Florcita by locking Florcita in her bedroom to "rehabilitate." "I locked her in the room for thirty-one days, bringing her lunch, tea. But, I did not let her out until she was rehabilitated." The separation, Sra. Flora emphasized, is what ultimately allowed Florcita to rehabilitate. "You've never considered that you have a toxic relation?" she asked them.

While we listened, Kevin had grown noticeably restless. Finally, he stood up and left, knocking the chair to the floor. "See?" Sra. Flora looked at me as I winced, while directing her words to Florcita. "Even when he was making money as a bus driver, he didn't help pay off the debts. He never bought a car either, so what did he do with the money?" She intimated that he used the money to buy drugs. Florcita then stood up with a scoff. "Look, he was buying things for the children," she said. "He paid for the light and water too. You can't throw all the blame on Kevin. You make him more aggressive with your stories." Florcita left the room. Turning to me, Sra. Flora said, "See? She doesn't want to listen. She is in love with Kevin."

As each confronted the other, the question of what place, if any, Kevin had in the home bubbled angrily to the surface. But like many times before, it was not a question that would be, or perhaps could be, resolved. Indeed, for many families with whom I worked, confrontations and arguments over relations or one's place in the home were not aimed at resolution-as if the place of another were spatially and temporally discrete, and as if each argument could be read in terms of intention. Rather, through their force, they tacitly acknowledged the uncertainty and vulnerability of that place and staked a claim to it.

In the midst of these tensions, Sra. Flora still sought ways to address Kevin's aggressiveness that invited him back into relations in the home. Having maxed out her own credit cards, she borrowed her neighbor's card the next day to purchase Kevin a new stereo. We rode the yellow-and-white city bus to Santiago's center, getting off near the doors of the Almacenes París department store. As we pressed stereo buttons and twisted knobs, opened and closed CD racks, Sra. Flora told me, "Music helps calm his nerves. It tranquilizes him and distracts him." This purchase was ao an enactment of care for Florcita. Listening to music might diffuse Kevin's aggression, holding his attention in a way that pil did not, while providing a time for change to occur.

Outside of Sra. Flora's view, Florcita too found modalities to care for Kevin. Alcohol and pil. Later that night, I was at a friend's home in La Pincoya when Florcita knocked on her patio gate. "Luz! Luz!," she called out. I recognized the voice and went out to greet Florcita while Luz put her infant son to bed. Florcita's two young sons accompanied her. She was carrying a backpack. As the children ran inside to play with Luz's older children, I asked Florcita how she was holding up with Kevin. Dark rings wrinkled under her eyes as she spoke. Kevin had run out of medication for his nerves. "So, I buy pil from Sra. Maria [owner of a corner store] to make him sleep. He's desperate and aggressive."

She unzipped the backpack. Florcita explained that she was selling foodstuffs to make some money. It was full of packs of spaghetti, marmalade, and a bag of rice. These were the same goods that Sra. Flora had bought in the local market earlier in the day. I asked her what she intended to buy with the money earned from selling these goods. "Pisco," she said. "If we share a bottle of pisco, and I give him a pill, I know he will sleep." Luz joined us. Florcita sold her a pack of marmalade. We each gave her a tight hug and watched her walk up the street with her children. Luz looked silently at the marmalade pack in her hand, as if considering the possibility that it had been stolen. "Well," she remarked, "we don't really need marmalade; we already have two packs. But I see Florcita, and I know she needs the money. So I do what I can to help."

Exploring the moral texture of these acts of borrowing and buying allows us to appreciate subtle transactions of care between neighbors and kin that take place every day. Could these actions be interpreted as gestures of care that demonstrate how domestic relations are actualized in the home? We may think of domestic relations in the home as being present in their potentiality. When intimate kin take up domestic relations by borrowing, selling, buying, listening, or visiting, these relations are realized, made actual, within the home in specific ways. In this case, borrowing a credit card from a neighbor to purchase a distraction, or buying redundant goods so a neighbor can tranquilize her partner, makes the time to set a different tone in family relations or at least provides a time of respite in order to face them anew.

Uncertainty infused these diverse gestures of care. How much time would a distraction last? Would a family member reveal a different aspect of herself if the tone of family relations shifted? Would she, as many said, "show the other face of the coin"? As families waited to see loved ones show a different side, this "made time" rubbed against the temporality of monthly debt payments and the uncertainty of unstable wages that impinged on the home.

Life Loaned

Over the next three months, Florcita and Kevin were not at home when I came to visit. Rumors spread that Florcita was engaging in prostitution to buy drugs. Kevin was said to be spending time with friends on "the other side" of the población, a way of saying that he was consorting with pasta basteros (addicts to pasta base). On one occasion, I saw Kevin driving an old sports car with three men whom I did not recognize. He called out to me, "Clarita!" I waved to him, but his tone of voice made me fear approaching the car. Stopped in front of the house, he revved the engine repeatedly, laughed, and drove off. A dust cloud lingered at the door. Several evenings, I spotted Florcita from afar with her children, returning from her work as a teacher's aide. By the time I arrived at their home, she had already gone to other friends' houses, leaving her children in the care of Sra. Flora.

Sra. Flora developed a growing reticence about Florcita and Kevin. In contrast to her earlier attempts to talk about the state of relations as a way to address and diffuse their tensions, her silence suggested that the neighborhood rumors and Florcita and Kevin's friendships with pasta basteros had overrun her, leaving her little to say that would be listened to. When I inquired about them, she remarked, "What can I say. They don't listen. For now, I just eat it." Indeed, Sra. Flora was literally embodying the effects of this failure to listen. She had gained several kilos in the previous three months. Her ankles were constantly sore. She went to the general practitioner in the local primary care clinic, who suggested a diagnosis of hypothyroidism, but her thyroid tests were within normal limits.

Meanwhile, the house faced mounting difficulties in keeping up with monthly debt payments. Rodrigo found a minimum-wage, temporary job in construction, building chalets in Chicoreo. The hours were long, and the bus fare took up one-third of his income. As a result of his unemployment, the family got behind on their payments to department stores and the electric and water companies. They had to resort to cash advances from the Líder Supermarket to buy groceries. Debt collectors from the department stores had arrived at the home, threatening to take an inventory of household possessions of value that they could sell to pay off the debts.

Just over the northern hil bordering La Pincoya, Chicoreo was quickly becoming a location for "green," "natural," and "alternative" living for young professiona, hip actors, and TV personalities. As we sat outside in the evening chill, Rodrigo compared his lifeworld to those in Chicoreo: "There, they pay for the houses in cash. And here, I'm still paying quotas on this chair. So, this chair-the Hites [department store] still are the owners of it. Credit is for the poor." Rodrigo voiced a shared sentiment in La Pincoya. As long as one continued to make monthly payments on commodities, they were not one's own. Other neighbors linked the uncertainty of ownership to the uncertainty of life itself: "Tenemos una vida prestada" (We have a loaned life).

The "loaned life" was tied into the historical conditions of the credit system itself. As many adults who lived through the dictatorship told me, the Pinochet regime gave credit to the poor. Credit gave the poor access to material resources for a "dignified life." In reflecting on her family's history of debt, Sra. Flora elaborated on these historical conditions.

It started when Pinocho [Pinochet] came to power, because before, credit was for the rich, those same rich who worked in the government, in the same commercial houses. And I remember when Pinocho was elected [salió], he gave credit to the poor. Hites was the first store that offered credit to the working class. And you could arrive with your income statement and your identification card and the light and water bil, and you could take whatever you needed. And with this, the poor began to get themselves into debt. Pppffff. And now you will not go to any house, Clarita, where that is not a family in debt, because to have your things of value, you need to be indebted. I remember when tío Ricardo asked for a loan from Atlas [bank] for 100,000 pesos [USD 160], and was paying for three years, but gave back 300,000 [USD 500]. And that is how the rich financial businesspeople make their money off the poor.

"What were the consequences?" I asked.

Well [she paused], good, because before, no one could buy anything, and we were experiencing needs [pasando necesidades] much worse than before. Imagine, Clarita, entire families sleeping in the same bed. I with my husband and my three children slept in the same bed for years, but when the department stores began to give credit, we could buy a bunk bed and the children slept on top on the second bed and we slept on the lower bed. So, with this credit, families could live with more dignity, a dignified life. They had their stove, their refrigerator.

Yet, as she explained, such resources for a dignified life emerged in conjunction with new visibilities and social contro:

But with all of this, families began to get into debt, and there appeared DICOM [the private credit registry], because the businesspeople realized that the poor were getting into so much debt that they could not pay their quotas. Many people owed three, four, five times their monthly income. One owed in Hites, in Ripley, in Almacenes París. And with light, water, and something to eat, one did not make it to the end of the month. So, with computation, the computer, everything changed, because, for example, you could now be in Puerto Montt in Hites. And there they could see in the computer there that you owed in Hites in Santiago. And they say, "You can't take out this TV, because you haven't paid your letras [monthly payments] and you're late." So now there is more pressure to pay the letras on time, or you have to do everything possible so as to pay the letras on time-work extra hours, look for small temporary work [pololito], whatever thing to not arrive in DICOM.

New temporal forms of surveillance arose with the development of extensive credit reporting systems that meshed the state-mandated credit registry of the Superintendent of Banks and Financial Institutions with the main private company for credit information, DICOM (Center for Information of Commercial Documentation; see Castel 1991).

In 1979, the National Chamber of Commerce and private entrepreneurs had established DICOM, four years after the initiation of the Chicago Boy's structural adjustment plan. Throughout the 1980s, it won public bids to provide private credit information to the Superintendent of Banks and Financial Institutions and made individual contracts with banks and financial institutions. Owned by the U.S.-based company Equifax since 1997, DICOM's database currently contains financial information on persons with a tax identification number and any credit history. This information ranges from a history of bad checks, overdue bil, consolidated debts, reporting registry, to one's credit score (Cowan and De Gregorio 2003).

As Sra. Flora emphasized, DICOM exerted a continual presence in everyday life, in terms of both the material constraints that came with a troubled financial history and the anxieties that being in it, or on the verge of being in it, generated. To be "in DICOM" meant that one could not accede to any form of institutional credit: bank loans, department stores, or state-financed loans for higher education. Further, those in DICOM were often subject to labor discrimination (Raczynski et al. 2002). DICOM was used as a character assessment, a screening for personal responsibility and discipline. And, with access to DICOM's database, employers often conditioned contracts to the worker's status in DICOM.

From 1979 to 1999, when the Senate passed Law 19.628, Protection of Data of Personal Character, popularly known as the "DICOM Law," one's financial history was not only available to all employers and financial institutions, but it ao remained in the DICOM database even when debts had been settled (see Ruiz 2002). The persistence of this history was often called the "debtor's stigma"; it made life chances attenuate, as if one were in an interminable, invisible cage (see La Cuarta 2002; Raczynski et al. 2002). The 1999 DICOM Law was the state's attempt to limit the abuse of this database, but it can ao be interpreted as a spur for consumer spending by facilitating access to credit by previously "stigmatized" debtors (Ministerio Secretaria General de la Presidencia 1999).

According to the law, employers could not discriminate on the basis of DICOM information. In addition, individua who settled their debts would be removed from the DICOM database after three years. Those who did not would remain in DICOM for up to seven years. Nevertheless, even after the requisite number of years in DICOM, the debtor's stigma continued in practice. Many debtors remained in the DICOM database despite having settled debts several years earlier; many employers continued to screen workers through this database. While consumer credit provided access to a dignified life, DICOM's persistent biographical consequences bound this life to feelings of anxiety.

Nevertheless, while DICOM registered individual credit histories, in La Pincoya this biography was experienced as an accounting not of the individual but of the family tied into the home: "We are in DICOM" or "Families are in debt." This displacement of the DICOM biography from the individual to the family mirrored the fear of repossessions by debt collectors, who inventoried any item of value within the physical boundaries of the home to satisfy the outstanding debts of any family member with that same address. Thus, family members said, "Van a embargar la casa" (They will repossess the house), not only when the house itself was threatened with repossession but ao when any individual in the home had reneged on his or her debts. While debt is in the name of an individual, the enforcement of debt through repossession materially implicated the entire home and the relations constituting it.

In his essay "Postscript on Control Societies," Gilles Deleuze examines the transformation of disciplinary societies based in institutions such as the prison, school, and asylum into societies with open, continuous, and free-floating control through the synergy of the market with new technologies. "A man is no longer a man confined but a man in debt," writes Deleuze. "One thing, it's true, hasn't changed-capitalism still keeps three quarters of humanity in extreme poverty, too poor to have debts and too numerous to be confined: control will have to deal not only with vanishing frontiers, but with mushrooming shantytowns and ghettos (Deleuze 1997, 181). But the expansion of the credit system among families in La Pincoya challenges this homogenous view of the poor, as well as capitalism's supposedly obvious inclusions and exclusions. The mechanisms of control societies are not beyond the extreme poor. Rather, they are precisely the mechanisms through which the materiality and image of "extreme poverty" are destabilized. It is this destabilization of the image that was embodied and absorbed into family relations.

Shadowed by the threat of DICOM and repossession, families in La Pincoya worked to keep up with the temporality of monthly debt payments, what they called manteniendo la imagen (maintaining the image). A common phrase used to describe the work to keep up with payments to department stores, utilities, and banks, maintaining the image conveyed the transient, insecure, and uncertain nature of the dignified life made possible through credit. Is this life a life that I can own, that I can trust? Will it exist tomorrow? This sense of uncertainty pervaded everyday relations. Gossip abounded about those who were aparentando, who projected the markers of material wealth beyond a family's means, and those who were marceros, who wore brand-name clothing even as they struggled to get to the end of the month. Against this uncertainty, families engaged in a work of maintenance to avoid falling into DICOM, to get out of DICOM, or to make debt payments in the face of repossession. Families cut back on food costs, asked neighbors, friends, and extended family members for loans, worked for overtime pay, and took on extra jobs. In this way, the "loaned life," a fragile existence, was held together through, and often despite, the temporality of credit.

Unbearable Volume

For Sra. Flora, this uncertainty knotted together with Florcita's addiction, generating a domestic struggle over time itself. By June 2004, the tension of intimate relations had reached a nearly unbearable volume, like the stereo that Sra. Flora had bought Kevin to calm his nerves and that now blared heavy metal day and night. Kevin and Florcita were consuming pasta base and had become increasingly violent with each other. Once while I had tea with Sra. Flora and Rodrigo, we heard Florcita and Kevin yelling and fighting. The sound of breaking glass and wal being punched reverberated through the corridor. Then Kevin ran into the living room holding a knife. His forehead was lacerated. Florcita had hit him with an iron bar. He called the police. When two policemen arrived, they first questioned Kevin in a formulaic tone, "How many times have you hit your woman?" Kevin laughed, saying "Look at me, she hit me." An argument ensued between Kevin and Florcita in which each accused the other of being a golpeador/a (beater). Despite our contestations and pleadings, the police ultimately sided with Kevin. They arrested Florcita and took her into custody for the night. Later, Sra. Flora and I learned from Florcita that the argument had been set off by a missing piece of pizza. Florcita had brought home a pizza from the school where she worked. She shared it with her sisters, setting aside a piece for Kevin. The piece disappeared, however, and Kevin accused Florcita of eating it.

This eruption of violence set in motion a daily struggle between Rodrigo and Sra. Flora over Florcita and Kevin's place in the home. Rodrigo simply demanded that they leave. Sra. Flora, on the other hand, wanted to help Florcita separate from Kevin, which would take its own time. Gradually, this struggle over letting time do its work became cast in economic terms. Rodrigo told me his unstable wages were barely covering monthly bil, department store quotas, and food. Florcita and Kevin, he said, were not contributing to the home. They were leaving the financial and emotional responsibility for caring for their own children to him and Sra. Flora. Tired of spending his income on paying the bil, he used his end-of-the-month pay to buy a new shirt, sweater, pants, and shoes. When the light was cut to the home for nonpayment, Rodrigo argued that it was her excessive care for family members that produced this darkness. His frustration with her defense of Florcita and Kevin bled into relations with her other kin. He said that she would "sit in the dark" until she "put limits" on her family visiting the home. As she told me, "How can I limit my own family members from coming here? I was not raised that way, and it's difficult for me to change at this point in my life." After Rodrigo lost his job, she said, "Se puso machista, muy machista" (He's become very dominating).

In our conversations, Sra. Flora moved between the affective registers of time and space when speaking about Rodrigo. Time as possibility: an enduring patience with Rodrigo: "Let us see everything in its time." Space as a declaration of the finitude of her relation to him: "I want him to leave the house!" Yet when she recounted how she met Rodrigo, she cast their relationship and their process of constructing a life together in the shadow of other intimate experiences of male violence. Sra. Flora had met her husband when she migrated with her family from Los Angeles in the south of Chile to Santiago in search of work. She was sixteen years old when she became pregnant with her first child, Carmen.

I was dating my husband when I was sixteen years old, and I was very sick, very sick. I went to the doctor, and they did some blood exams, and then afterward they did not explain anything. They gave me a letter from the doctor. I went to a meeting with my friend. I had the letter in my sweater pocket, and left it there on the chair [at home]. I still had not read the letter. My mother read it, and arrived to the [friend's] house furious. My mother beat me up [me sacó la cresta], took a stick and hit me in the face, in the mouth. I did not know why. And afterward, my father came and he beat, beat, beat me in the face, breaking all my teeth. And then all of my brothers-imagine it, I have four brothers; there were only two women in the family. All of my brothers and my father went to look for my husband, and they beat him up. I was in the hospital for one month, and he was there for forty-five days. They operated on my mouth and had to take out all my teeth. But I did not lose the baby. This baby was Carmen. Afterward, there was so much pressure for me to marry him. And, we married in {apos}66. He began to walk around with other women, drink alcohol. And my brothers saw him with other women, and they hit him, beat him. My father said to him, "You are walking around with another woman when my daughter is in the home pregnant with your child?" But when they beat him, he arrived to the house and hit me, saying that it was my fault that they beat him. And every time they beat him, he arrived to the house to hit me. And that went on for years.

In 1976, tío Ricardo came to live with her. Arriving in Santiago destitute and in search of work, by chance he saw Sra. Flora walking in the Plaza de Armas in Santiago's center. She had known him from her time in Los Angeles, and in Santiago she offered him shelter in the house she shared with her husband. He could stay if he worked and helped pay the bil. Some months later, Rodrigo arrived.

When Rodrigo came to the house is when the problems started. Because during this time, my husband continued to beat me.... Rodrigo and Ricardo heard everything. Ricardo never dared to do anything, because he was scared of my husband. But Rodrigo, on the other hand, did not have fear of anything. And he said, "I can't stand it, that you are sacando la cresta [beating yourself up] working to maintain the house and this desgraciado [wretched person] is arriving to the house to hit you and harass you. I cannot bear it."

On New Year's Eve of 1977, Sra. Flora and Rodrigo threw a party. They waited for her husband, but he did not return home. After several drinks and much conversation, Sra. Flora woke up the next day in Rodrigo's bed.

I was so ashamed. I could not look him in the face.... He left for a few days, but returned. He looked for me at my work. He was persistent. He told me that he was in love with me, that he did not have any fear of my family or my husband. That he could care less about them. He told me he wanted to throw my husband out of the house. But I told him I could not do it, out of respect for my family. He was angry. Then he came back to the house [and stayed] for months.... After having relations with Rodrigo, I separated from my husband. We had separate beds, and I did not let him have relations with me. But one night, I arrived to the house exhausted.... And because I was not vigilant, my husband searched for me [me buscó], and he obligated me to have relations with him again. Three months later, I felt really ill, and I discovered I was pregnant again. I told Rodrigo I was pregnant, and he left the house for six months. But, when he returned, he said that he continued to be in love with me. And my husband left the house, because he could not stand it. And I never asked anything from him. Afterward, Rodrigo and I started to move up [surgir]. We constructed the room where Florcita and Kevin stay. We constructed the second floor. Rodrigo says that Valentina is his daughter because he raised her. And she cal him papá because she does not know her father by blood.

Sra. Flora's narrative revea that there are two different elements composing "house relations": blood and everyday labors of caring for another. In this case, these everyday labors "cut" blood relations, limiting the network of actual kin while producing new kin relatedness, paternity: Valentina cal Rodrigo "Dad," while her biological father is an inactivated memory (see Strathern 1996). Her narrative ao shows the ways in which a break with a male partner occurs in an "unstated" register. In maintaining her family's respect, Sra. Flora married her husband and endured his sexual violence. She ao maintained this respect in the way she recounted these experiences to me, by focusing on the actions and desires of the two men while leaving her desires unstated. "He continued to be in love with me." "He returned." "He left because he could not stand it." Yet, at the same time, she shows how her patience allowed for that break and allowed for new house relations. She took on this tone again with Rodrigo. She patiently absorbed the darkness of the home while protecting Florcita. Alongside this awaiting, however, she ao asserted a determined ability to live without Rodrigo. As she told me after another argument with him: "But when we fought again last Saturday, I said, 'If you want to go, then just go' [said in a defiant tone]. Don't feel committed to me. I will lose weight and look for work. I don't need your contribution here in the house. I will not be here begging that you stay here."

Then in early October, Sra. Flora fell ill. After her return from the hospital, I visited her. Covered by an old blue quilt, she convalesced in their cramped bedroom. I asked her what had happened. The night she fell ill, she and Rodrigo had fought. Rodrigo had discovered department store bil that Sra. Flora had been hiding and paying piola ("quietly," or "without notice"). She had bought clothes for Florcita and her children. Rodrigo threatened to leave the home. Sra. Flora confronted Florcita, telling her to leave Kevin. Florcita refused. She loved Kevin, she said, and she hated her mother for bending to Rodrigo's demands. Sra. Flora felt a terrible pain in her abdomen and stabbing pains in her heart. She thought she was having a heart attack. Rodrigo took her to Hospital José Joaquín Aguirre. She had an acutely inflamed gallbladder and underwent surgery. When she returned home, Rodrigo had momentarily put aside his demands. "It seems that Rodrigo got more enthusiastic about the house [after I got sick]. He took pity on me, seeing me in this condition," she said. "He can't leave me now." Sra. Flora's surgery and recovery not only affected Rodrigo but ao seemed to dampen family tensions. Kevin and Florcita, for their part, had turned down the music.

The damage Sra. Flora embodies through this waiting raises questions as to the limits of this mode of care. In circumstances of precarious employment, targeted state programs for those who do the work to qualify as "extremely poor" (see chapter 3), and a fragile and underfunded public health system, the sense of responsibility for kin can feel infinite. Such a sense of responsibility is heard in women's differentiation of la casa (house) and la calle (street), in which the "street" is spoken of as unpredictable, faceless violence and scarcity-"He might be killed or stabbed; how would she survive?"-while in the "house," moments of scarcity and interpersonal violence are engendered in flesh-and-blood relations and can be mitigated, assuaged, and endured as part of life itself. Waiting, then, can be understood as a manifestation of the desire to be infinitely responsive (see Das 2010b). Realized through domestic relations and credit, this desire orients subjects toward "the possible," the lived sense of indeterminacy in the present that provides hope for relational futures. But this sense of responsibility can become unbearable with, for example, the threat of deadly violence in the home. Indeed, when such a threat arose, Sra. Flora had to face the fact of her finite responsibility even as she held on to this desire for infinite responsiveness, a desire to continue waiting.

Gift of Bread

December 28, 2004. Two months had passed since I had last seen Sra. Flora. When I entered the house, she was standing in Florcita and Kevin's room, cleaning up what she called "the disorder." She greeted me with a warm hug, telling me that she had "good news." Kevin and Florcita had left the house three weeks earlier, she said, and "ahora estamos tirándonos pa' arriba" (literally, "we are throwing ourselves upward," or "moving up in the world"). She seemed exuberant. We walked across Florcita and Kevin's room, where mounds of clothes lay strewn across the floor.

Leading me to a new interior patio, she said, "Look, I enclosed all of this. I put a little garden, and the grass is growing well." A cement walkway separated a patch of grass on one side from a small fruit tree and plants on the other. She led me back through the house. "We are repairing the house. We are moving the kitchen over there, and putting the bathroom here [pointing to where the kitchen was], because the kitchen and bathroom had rats. After thirty-four years, the wood bathroom had a terrible stench." The new kitchen would replace the passageway to Florcita's former room. As we returned to the patio, she said, "I am going to put floor tiles in all the bedrooms, and new ceramic tiles in the living room, kitchen, and bathroom. We have all this projected for this year 2005. It will be a good year."

Sra. Flora walked with more energy in her step. She projected her voice instead of guarding it closely in hushed whispers. She recounted to me the events that led up to Florcita and Kevin's leaving. Shortly before they left, Kevin got high on pasta base. "He was walking around aggressive," Sra. Flora said. "All of a sudden, he took an iron bar and hit her and hit her. Florcita was underneath the covers [of the bed]. If she had not been, he would have killed her. With blood coming out on all sides. We had to take her to the emergency room. I told them to leave after that. 'If you can't leave Kevin, I won't have you die here like this. Please. Just leave.' And finally, they did. They just got up and left."

Sra. Flora's narrative was not one of abandonment or social death. Rather, by telling Florcita to leave the home, Sra. Flora reaffirmed her life within it. At the same time, however, by marking out the home as nonviolent, she established a boundary around this spectacular violence and the everyday, unaccounted-for violences through which the home was being produced (Price 2002). As we talked further about Florcita, Sra. Flora justified to me why she told Florcita to leave the home: "It gives me pain and rage [rabia], but now I leave her, I leave her, because I did everything and more than I could do. It's like, how do I say this to you? Like a woman-" She called out to her daughter Sonia in the other room. "Sonia! How do you call this [kind of] woman that likes to be beaten?" "Submissive?" Sonia replied. "No, that's not the word. It starts with an m," Sra. Flora answered. "Masochist?" "That's it!," Sra. Flora replied. "Masochist! Masochist is she! It gives me pain because I never hit her. I only hit her three times when she was eighteen years old and was going out with this desgraciado [referring to Kevin]. And I thought she would change, but it all went worse."

Then, in a seemingly hyperbolic fashion, she told me how they would now pay their debts ahead of time. Rodrigo had just secured construction work with a fixed contract, and with Florcita and Kevin gone, they had fewer costs. "Rodrigo earns 180,000 liquid [disposable income] and Ricardo 140,000. I have planned it that I will pay the monthly payments ahead of time. I want to finish paying in August. I know that I can do it, because the children [Florcita, Kevin, and their two children] are not living here. Imagine it. I am saving so much because I am not using so much light, water, and now I don't have to make so much for lunch."

Sra. Flora's search for the word masochism and her new accounting of their debts seemed to reveal her painful awakening to her relation to Florcita. By searching for the word masochism-and not submissive-she articulates the complex weave of intimacy and violence that Florcita embodies, a weave in which Sra. Flora finds her own limit. She cannot will Florcita to separate from Kevin. Then, in her new accounting of debts, she finds a way to voice that limit: that she is finite and separate from Florcita. She suffers finite responsibility. Notice how a discourse of cost-effectiveness is taken up in a moment of retrospection on events in which a relational future is at stake. Rather than conclude that a calculus of cost-effectiveness is mechanically shaping decision making within the home, we may consider how this discourse might voice the difficulty in caring for others. Through such discourses, separateness is voiced. At the same time, they deflect the difficulty of recognizing the denial of another while furthering the grip of such discourses within the home. Such a move is what Stanley Cavell has called the scandal of skepticism: "With the everyday ways in which denial occurs in my life with the other[,] ... the problem is to recognize myself as denying another, to understand that I carry chaos in myself. Here is the scandal of skepticism with respect to the existence of others; I am the scandal" (Cavell 2005, 151).

In the next moment, Flora's voice changed tone. Waving her finger, she said, "But, I still do not let the little children [Florcita's two sons] go hungry. They come here for food, and I ao still pass them coins." She continued: "I got into debt, 300,000 pesos for Christmas, buying gifts for them. Sonia ao got into debt. It's just that the children don't understand, and ask [piden]. You need to buy gifts for children. But, that's OK."

As our conversation drew to a close, Sra. Flora asked me where I was heading. I told her I was interested in finding Florcita and would look for her in the Plaza Pablo Neruda (a frequent meeting ground for drug dea) and then visit the houses of Florcita's friends. As I gathered my things, she told me to wait a moment. Walking into the kitchen, she returned with two warm canvas bags. Each held a homemade loaf of bread. "Here, take one for yourself, and give one to Florcita." Connecting mother, daughter, and anthropologist, this gift did not constitute an act of reciprocity. Rather, it was a thread of sustenance between Florcita and life within the house. A labor of Sra. Flora's own hands, it delicately materialized a gesture of care, inviting her back home.

Later that afternoon, I found Florcita. She and Kevin were renting a one-room shack attached to a friend's house. Estrella, their friend, lived with her mother in a run-down wooden house on the opposite side of the población. She and her mother both worked in piecemeal sewing at home. She led me to their room, saying, "You know, their mom threw them out of the house." Kevin and Florcita were in a deep sleep. I wrote a small note to Florcita about my visit and her mother's gift and left it with both bags at their feet.

"It's like my sister"

I have visited Sra. Flora's family every year that I return to La Pincoya. Even with monthly debt payments, they fixed the house incrementally. Ceramic tiles on the floor, one by one. A new sliding screen door for the patio. A fresh coat of paint on the wal. Three months after Florcita and Kevin left, their two children asked Sra. Flora if they could live with her. She took them in. Kevin attempted to take the children back, but both Sra. Flora and Rodrigo stood their ground. In late 2005, however, Sra. Flora found Florcita unconscious in the neighborhood playground just a few houses down from their home. She had been raped by a group of bus drivers as she sought to sell sex for pasta base. Rodrigo carried her back to their home. Upon hearing about the rape, Kevin was enraged. High and angry, he yelled at Florcita and blamed her. Sra. Flora called the police. Kevin was interned again at the Psychiatric Institute. Florcita joined a community treatment program run by one of the many Pentecostal groups in La Pincoya.

After his internment, Kevin came back to live with Florcita in Sra. Flora's home. I spoke to Florcita in January 2006. She had gained some weight, but her face bore the strains of addiction and physical abuse. "I'm getting better," she said.

My mom keeps telling me to leave Kevin. She doesn't trust me now, because of Kevin. But I tell her. "He's been with me all the time. He'll be with me." My mom doesn't understand how I can be in love with him. She never understood, since I was young. But, we've changed now. She has to accept that, acknowledge it. There's a before and an after. I go to the meetings, and they make me feel better. I'm going to look for work. I want to move up. I want to live in our own house, get a municipal subsidy [for a house], have our things.

Over time, however, more things went missing in the home. The TV went one day. A few weeks later, the stereo. In the following months, a couple of dining table chairs. Sra. Flora bought a new TV, a new stereo, on credit. Rather than demanding that Florcita and Kevin leave as he did before, Rodrigo resorted to drinking beer in the local canteen. He spent less and less time in the home, arriving drunk late at night. Meanwhile, Florcita would leave the house for days.

In July 2007, I returned to La Pincoya, this time with my husband. We had just gotten married a few months before, and I was making rounds, introducing him to friends and neighbors. It had been a year and a half since I had seen Sra. Flora. We walked to her house for a visit. The house was stripped bare. The floor, where there was once ceramic, now was concrete, blackened with dirt. Where once was a sofa, there were two wooden stoo. The new stereo, broken, after Kevin had thrown it across the room. Tío Ricardo had lost his job in the textile factory. He was now looking for temporary construction work but, at his advanced age, finding work was difficult. Sra. Flora's brother Diego, who lived one street up, had died of a heart attack in his home. A quiet and dark stillness filled the entire home.

Daughters Sonia, Valentina, and Margarita came to greet us. But the air seemed burdened and pained. Sra. Flora invited us to sit on the wooden stoo. She said, "All this, they broke everything. And I am still paying the quotas on the things they broke. See. Look, look, I don't have anything for us to take tea in, see. I can't even invite you and your husband to tea. I'm sorry. See, this is how it is now. And it pains me. It pains me so much." She repeatedly apologized for not having anything in which to serve us tea. "No, no, it's OK, it's OK," I said, trying to reassure her.

Sra. Flora recounted to me the events leading up to the present: about Florcita and Kevin's drug use, Florcita's selling of sex for drugs, their parties that now overran and destroyed the home, the debts that she could not pay, Rodrigo's resignation. "It's like my sister," she suddenly said. Her sister, she continued, had been a militant for the democratic movements. "She was tortured. She was in Villa Gremaldi. They burnt her up into her uterus. She was burned from the inside. Then, they dumped her on the street. We found her unconscious and took her home. We tried to take care of her. But six months later, she died of cancer of the uterus, from all of the burns. The burns kept eating her uterus." She stopped. "I had not told you this before." It was true. In the eight years that I had known her, never once did she tell me about her sister's death. "So, you see, I am not well. I spend a lot of time now, thinking about my sister, how she died. I don't know why I took out the theme now. Just now. Look, you with your new husband. He seems quite tierno [sweet]. These times, they've been very difficult, much worse than before."

Three months earlier, Sra. Flora had had a stroke. "Look at my eye, it's desviado [off-track]. The doctor said that it would not come back, and that there is nothing I can do now." Her right eye was deviated laterally. She was short of breath as she spoke. It seemed that she experienced a pressure to find words, as well as a difficulty breathing. The doctor, she said, ao told her that her heart was not working well. But she had sensed this herself. "I'm broken. My body is broken. The house, everything is broken."

My husband does not speak Spanish. He attempted to understand through my translations and through bodily gestures and tones. But when Sra. Flora began to tell me about her sister, I stopped translating. Receiving this pain took its own time. Sra. Flora's evocation of her sister at this juncture in her life might help us attend to the feelings of violence she may be embodying as she tries to respond to her kin but is faced with the limits of their responsiveness. As such, Sra. Flora's memory of her sister and the political conditions that produced her pain affectively resonates with conditions in which she experiences her own body as "broken," Florcita's body as violated, and "the house, everything is broken": fractured between the multiple relational ties that produced the home itself.

Loan for Another Life

To leave you with this scene of destruction would obscure how the use of the credit system can ao provide different relational futures. In August 2008, I returned again to La Pincoya. On a bright, chilly afternoon, I stopped by Sra. Flora's home. The blue-painted patio gate was wide open, and the sound of hammers rang out into the street. The facade of the house had been completely renovated. An oval front step covered with salmon-colored tile introduced a carved wooden antique door. This new front door was framed by new rectangular, mottled-glass windows. Rodrigo emerged from inside the house and greeted me with a big hug, sweating from the renovation work that he was completing. Sra. Flora then appeared and ao gave me a tight hug. "Look, we are renovating the house. Beautiful, you see," she said. Surprised, I asked her to give me a tour. We walked through the house. It was almost unrecognizable. The kitchen was enlarged and decoratively tiled in black and white. A long wire was strung across the kitchen with hanging bunches of onions, peppers, and garlic. There were now two sparkly bathrooms on the first floor with deep tubs and shiny shower heads. Florcita's former room was transformed by a large sliding glass door that opened onto the interior patio of the house, where a few white chickens and a large black-and-green rooster pecked the grass. "See," Sra. Flora said, pointing out the detai of the renovation to me.

As we stood in Florcita's former room, I told Sra. Flora how struck I was by the changes. "How did ... ?" She interrupted me, answering, "I took another loan on the house." She refinanced the house in order to afford the renovations. "But, how ... ?" My voice trailed off. Sra. Flora responded, "Well, Rodrigo was drinking, drinking all the time. And I said one day, 'Ja, ja, no more. No more. Never.' I confronted him: 'Look. You are going to change or you leave this house. I can't bear you like this.' I took out the loan, and I said, 'We are going to renovate the house. We will have a new life.' He got enthusiastic, and went out with the money and bought all the materia. So now, he is working in construction, and we save a little at a time to be able to renovate the house just the way we want. With a different style than everyone ee." This time, the loan provided the materia to hold Rodrigo's attention and allowed time to work on relations.

I asked her about Florcita. Florcita, she said, was now living three houses up, renting a room from a neighbor with Kevin. Sra. Flora had used a portion of that loan to help pay for their rent. After several months of pasta base use, Florcita had joined another Pentecostal meeting to regulate her addiction. Kevin, on the other hand, continued to consume, but Florcita persisted in a relationship with him. Sra. Flora asked Florcita to move out of the house but made arrangements with the neighbor. She brought food to them each day, and Florcita occasionally stopped by the home but did not stay long. With the move, Sra. Flora and Florcita had, for the moment, crafted a new way to maintain proximity while distancing Kevin from the home. In this way, they forged a new lease on life-in a different style-staking the everyday again in an uncertain future.

Attending to the tensions between waiting and the ongoing demands of debt, scarcity, and multiple kinship obligations revea how intimate relations of the house are simultaneously constructed, made possible through, and ao threatened by the mechanisms of credit. Moving with these relations in time helped me attend to the force of possibility within intimate relations. We might call it a sense of hope that another can reveal a different aspect of herself in time, and the sense of obligation that arises with it. Care-as-waiting relies on that hope, which is actualized within the house as illness and momentary renewal. In the face of disappointment with this hope, such caring can become conditions through which the past of state violence are made available within one's present and within the ordinary itself.

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