Approaching Violence in Eastern Guatemala
"The aim of the psychological war is to win people's 'hearts and minds' so that they accept the requirements of the dominant order and, consequently, accept as good and even 'natural' whatever violence may be necessary to maintain it."
Ignacio Martín-Baró, "Violence in Central America"
"Rather than view violence ... simply as a set of discrete events, which quite obviously it also can be, the perspective I am advancing seeks to unearth those entrenched processes of ordering the social world and making (or realizing) culture that themselves are forms of violence: violence that is multiple, mundane, and perhaps all the more fundamental because it is the hidden or secret violence out of which images of people are shaped, experiences of groups are coerced, and agency itself is engendered."
Arthur Kleinman, "The Violences of Everyday Life"
Much has been written about violence in Guatemala, a country that has come to be known for the contrast between its spectacular beauty and its unspeakable suffering. This book, however, is not about the direct, political violence in the highlands (Altiplano) targeting the Maya, a form of violence for which Guatemala has long been known. It is about the everyday violence in the lives of ladinas in Oriente (eastern) Guatemala, where few outsiders, either scholars or tourists, venture to visit. It is about violence not directly attributable to individual actions intended to cause harm but embedded in institutions and in quotidian aspects of life-the familiar, the routine; violence so commonplace and so much a part of life that it is often not recognized as such. In contrast to many other works about Guatemala, this book is about the violence that becomes visible only when its consequences, in the form of suffering, are talked about. It is about the violence that women habitually experience, which is intertwined with the other forms of violence that have held sway in Guatemala for a long time.
Guatemala is a society dealing with the aftermath of nearly four decades of state terror (Grandin 2000; Manz 2004) and undergoing "civic insecurity," with high levels of violence, persistent impunity, and an inability to address the postconflict instability (Torres 2008: 2). Although it has been more than a decade since the Peace Accords were signed in 1996, Guatemalans are still experiencing the consequences of an internal armed conflict that was, in some respects, the most brutal in the region during the past century. The United Nations-sponsored Truth Commission estimated that as many as 200,000 people were killed-a majority at the hands of government forces-during the thirty-six-year war that ended in 1996. The victims were mostly unarmed civilians, and the government's methods were often extraordinarily cruel. According to the U.N. commission, the methods employed by the state could be said to constitute "acts of genocide." The armed conflict left the country awash in weapons, with webs of people trained to use them and a civil society accustomed to the horrors of violence. The conflict not only left widows, orphans, and whole communities traumatized; it also left a population distrustful of the authorities.
Therefore, recent accounts of violence (Benson, Fischer, and Thomas 2008; Snodgrass Godoy 2006; Steenkamp 2009) in postwar, "peacetime" Guatemala reveal some of the highest homicide rates in the hemisphere, daily kidnappings, extortion, robberies, lynchings, and feminicide, the new wave of killings in which women, regardless of their ethnicity, are the targets. Guatemalans now face multiple forms of violence, often at higher rates than during "wartime." Angelina Snodgrass Godoy (2005) notes that in Guatemala the boundaries between "common" and "political" crime have become blurred; thus familiar distinctions between the two no longer stand up to empirical scrutiny. Indeed, it is difficult to conceive of these as "peacetime" conditions.
Guatemala also has one of the most unequal distributions of wealth in the hemisphere, which means that structural violence shapes many aspects of life and has manifold expressions, such as multiple forms of exploitation, extreme forms of poverty, and deeply unequal access to society's benefits. But in describing Guatemala's state of affairs today, one must bear in mind that such conditions do not have roots in the recent past. They are the culmination of a long history of abuse, exploitation, and repression brought about by the legacy of Spanish colonialism, U.S. foreign policy, and recent neoliberal economic reforms, intersections that scholars of Guatemala have amply documented (Cojtí Cuxil 1997; Hale 2006; Lovell 2010; Manz 2004; Smith 1990). Thus some of the violence Guatemala has experienced is directly related to the militarization of life during the political conflict, whereas other forms are tied to long-standing structural inequalities that have assaulted the lives of the majority of Guatemalans for centuries. These sources of violence are linked: it is not a matter of tracing root causes to one or another factor but of recognizing that multiple forms of violence act on one another and are experienced all at once. As Paul Farmer (2004b) notes, the systematic violation of human rights as a product of capitalism is not unrelated and indeed is made possible through the use of state-sponsored violence (see also Binford 2004). Accordingly, links among vulnerability, inequality, human rights violations, and neoliberal restructuring are key to understanding the root causes of multiple forms of violence, as evinced in the work of Benson, Fischer, and Thomas (2008) and Benson and Fischer (2009) on Guatemala, Moodie (2006) on El Salvador, and Gill (2007) on Colombia, as well as Burkhart's (2002) quantitative analysis of the relation between capitalism and human rights violations. As Benson and Fischer (2009: 153) observe in their work on Guatemala, "By implicating neoliberal ideologies and policies in the production of the new violence, we complicate simple assessments of the Peace Accords' successes and failures and challenge the guiding premise that unfettered market forces are necessary for achieving peace and security."
An examination of the multiple forms of violence in the lives of ladinas in eastern Guatemala, who live away from the zones where direct political terror was "a way of life" (see Green 1999), exposes the deep, broad, and often indirect consequences of living in a society in which the population has been brutalized and life has become fragile and cheap, depicting the "long arm of violence." In pointing to the violence in women's lives, I do not pathologize them. In fact, it would be easier to fall back on frames that focus on pathologizing individuals than to attempt to dissect the multiple systems of oppression and exclusion that generate suffering in the manner I do here. The ladinas' lives are much more complex, and a close-up look reveals those extrapersonal forces that produce suffering for them. I have strived to convey this complexity fully. And whereas women turn to others when in need, it is often those others-friends, family, husbands, and neighbors-whose actions instantiate the violence in the context in which the women live. It is for this reason that in my discussions I intersperse instances of comfort with narratives of suffering, as they intertwined in complex ways. However, my goal is to focus the analytical gaze on violence and suffering so as to retrieve them from the recesses of normality and in this way to propose alternative ways of thinking about violence, perhaps, in the words of Kleinman (2000: 231), a critique "of the normal as well as of the normative social order."
Main Objective of the Book
My main objective is to unearth the misrecognized violence that women routinely experience in familiar, commonplace spaces. I seek to unveil the violence that is difficult to see and to measure (and therefore often to define as violence) because it is not confined to individual acts or horrific crimes that can be reported or tabulated. I focus on, as Kleinman (2000: 226) puts it, "the effect of the social violence that social orders-local, national, global-bring to bear on people [original emphasis]." I bring attention to the veiled violence in forms of social control of women that result in devaluation, humiliation, a lowered gaze, the kind of violence that does not shock the observer because it is part of the everyday but that is deeply connected to the more noticeable acts that inflict physical injury because both kinds of violence arise from the same structures. Thus the forms of violence that I examine here are related to and make possible (though perhaps not cause), through the devaluation of women's lives, the more gruesome expressions that come in the form of feminicides in Guatemala, a discussion to which I return in the conclusion. The links to which I draw attention here are evident in other contexts as well, such as the cases that the journalists Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn (2009) have written about from a human rights stance, based on their work in Cambodia, India, Pakistan, Congo, Ethiopia, among other countries, in which they chronicle the manifold and mutating forms of oppression and violence against women that arise from multiple structural inequalities.
In the process I aim to develop an approach to examining structures of violence grounded in women's experiences. This approach captures the suffering in the women's lives that comes from deep inequalities in access to resources based on socioeconomic position, superimposed on the humiliations and fear originating in orthodox gender ideologies that constrain women's lives, all occurring in a background of fear and insecurity. Malnourishment, lack of opportunities to secure dignified work, and unequal access to education and health care are all expressions of the forms of violence I explore. However, I also include the physical forms of interpersonal violence that are more strongly associated with the phenomenon of violence, because in real life they are intermingled. As Irina Carlota Silber (2004) notes, when women are economically vulnerable, they also become vulnerable to men's sexual violence and exploitation and are seen as culpable for their own conditions, which in turn limits their ability to seek redress for their predicament. Although my project is to make multiple sources of suffering visible in the women's lives, I do not mean to present only this aspect of their lives or to argue that everything in the women's lives is violent. I would not be doing justice to the complexity of their lives if I presented them as being spent in abject subordination or insurmountable social pathology and spirals of violence. As well, my focus on gender domination and violence should not foreclose the potential for gendered agency and survival. Thus I also highlight, in each sphere of life I examine, the women's spaces of sociability and the collective dimensions of their experiences. I do so by focusing on the presence of other women in their lives-family members, friends, coreligionists, and coworkers, among others-that allows them the potential to create oppositional spaces and responses to their conditions. At the same time, I do not mean to portray the presence of others in the women's lives in a black-and-white manner, as nothing more than sources of support devoid of complex dynamics and contradictions. These social relations also occur in a broader context of violence.
Although there are now many organized responses to the violence in the lives of women, I mention only a few of them in the conclusion in a discussion of the efforts of national and international nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and women's groups. Thus, without ignoring these efforts or implying that women are victims, I focus on how violence is experienced and normalized in everyday life, because none of the women I met were involved in or aware of these broader efforts. The very nature of the forms of violence I examine often escapes the attention of these groups, as they are the "violent consequences of social power" (Kleinman 2000: 228).
I must note that although the violence that the women experience is often concretized in specific acts often attributed to the men in their families,, the men's acts per se are not the focus of my discussion. I seek to locate analytically the forms of violence in the women's lives outside of individuals. Focusing on men as "perpetrators" or on their individual acts isolated from a broader context would lead to a facile and misguided analysis that would serve to legitimize and disguise the deeper roots of violence. As Paula Godoy-Paiz (2008: 42) notes, "Through framing violence toward women as merely interpersonal, the laws depoliticize gender-based violence." Indeed, the individuals whose actions instantiate the violence I examine here are far from its main causes. My examination unveils the intertwined nature of power inequalities that shape daily life-in Kleinman's words (2000: 228), "the violent consequences of social power… [,] not surprisingly, less likely to be labeled 'violence.'" But as George Kent (2006: 55) observes, "The common thread in all these forms of violence is the fulfillment of one party's purposes at the expense of others. Violence entails the use of power."
In many ways this book explores how a geography of marginalization is lived in certain areas of the periphery, by some of the most disadvantaged social groups and by some of the most vulnerable individuals. I seek to understand social processes in relation to the conditions in which women live, work, love, and create. Social relations are not mechanistic reactions to those conditions, nor are they free floating and independent of them. They need to be understood within larger processes of social production and reproduction, as dynamic processes, not monolithic "characteristics" of a group or of individuals. As understood from this viewpoint, an examination of social relations in an overall context of violence allows us to grasp the consequences of living in multiple hierarchies of power and how these operate jointly.
Though direct causal relationships between sources of violence and suffering are difficult to establish, especially when dealing with forms of violence that are not always recognized as such, there were palpable effects of living in a context in which multiple forms of violence came together to shape the lives of women in the Guatemalan Oriente. I will use an instance in one of my informants' narratives to illustrate what I am trying to bring attention to. Hortencia was thirty-four years old when I first met her, had never attended school but had learned to read and write in an adult literacy program, was earning an income as a street food vendor, and was a widow who had had five children (one of whom had died in infancy). She paid Q.50 (about U.S.$10 in 1995) a month for the rent of a small adobe house, plus electricity. Her small house with very low ceilings was sparsely furnished: two beds, a small armoire, one chair, and one table in the main room. Hortencia wanted to share how she had been able to buy some of the furniture in the house:
There was a time that I didn't even have a bed, but thanks to God, the things that you see here, I owe them to the Bomberos Voluntarios [firefighters]. A year ago they had a raffle, and my little boy wanted to buy a ticket. I had just sold Q.2 of tostadas at the park, and I told him that the Q.2 was all I had. He really wanted the ticket, so I said, well, go ahead, and cooperate with the firefighters. And imagine my surprise when they announced that my little boy had won the first prize! It was a refrigerator! I thought they were pulling my leg, I even cried. I asked my neighbor, and she had heard it on the radio, so it was true. At that time I lived in a house where I didn't have [potable] water or electricity and my boy had won a refrigerator! I was shaking when I went to get the prize; I couldn't even walk. So my cousin had to accompany me. They were so nice that they even brought it to my house. They took pictures and everything. They also said, "Look, señora, if you have the need to buy other things, just sell the refrigerator and buy whatever you need. Here is all the paperwork." So I did, I sold the refrigerator. I bought the bed, armoire, and television set. I wanted to get that for my kids because they used to go watch cartoons from the windows of houses, and people sometimes would shoo them, you know how people are with poor patojos [kids]; they treat them worse than animals. Now in this house they can watch whatever they want, and [with the armoire] I have a place to put my clothes.
Hortencia's words, without any references to direct, physical violence or to harm inflicted by a bullet, capture the embodiment of the multisided violence in the form of poverty and lack of access to decent wages and social services, as well as the mistreatment and humiliations that the poor endure, all of which are part of the everyday experiences in the lives of the ladinas I came to know in Oriente. The violence exposed in Hortencia's words intertwines with more direct forms, such as those inflicted through insults and sometimes physical injuries. Hortencia's story, I learned, was not at all atypical.
A key point in my examination is that the different manifestations of violence are mutually constitutive. Thus the injustices that a despotic regime breeds and that are manifested in overt political conflict are manifested in the micro-processes of life, in addition to being linked to the structural violence existing in the form of profound inequalities in access to well-paid work and social services. At the same time, these inequalities feed into and shape different expressions of everyday and symbolic violence, including social exclusion, humiliation, contempt, self-depreciation, and mistreatment, and make up the very frames that individuals use to guide their actions and understand the world around them. They coalesce with gender and gendered forms of violence to create a context that gives rise to, but also naturalizes, suffering in the lives of women. It is in such a context of "social violence" (Kleinman 2000: 226) that the killings of women, the phenomenon of feminicide, can take place. Thus in order to understand this wave of crimes against women in Guatemala today, I argue, one needs to understand (and recognize) the multiple strands of normalized violence that shape their lives. By focusing attention on different forms of violence in several areas of women's everyday lives, my analysis can contribute to identifying sources of suffering that are so entrenched in the social milieu as to appear part of tradition. Misrecognition, Nancy Fraser (2007) notes, is fundamental to gender inequality.
The Study of Violence
Violence has been studied from different disciplinary angles and in different areas of life. At a very general level, most studies typically have centered on the physical, visible aspects of violence, such as injuries inflicted on an unwilling victim by force, although violence that leads to psychological injuries also has been examined. A focus on physical, corporeal injuries no doubt comes from the ease of recording actions that can be counted, categorized, and tabulated. Indeed, in a recent treatise on violence, Randall Collins (2008) notes that the way sociologists have understood and studied violence has been guided by the way data are collected, namely, by examining individuals and their actions. Thus, Collins observes, we have achieved an understanding of violent individuals but not of violent situations. He sees an opportunity for sociologists of micro-processes to make a key contribution to explaining violent situations across varied contexts.
In her overview of empirical studies of violence, Mary Jackman (2002: 388) notes that "a narrow, legalistic concept of agency has led scholars to highlight interpersonal violence." In Jackman's view, two dominant assumptions have guided most examinations of violence: it is conceived as being motivated by the willful intent to cause harm and is presumed to be prompted by hostility; and it is assumed to be socially or morally "deviant" from mainstream human activity. Indeed, Collins (2008: 4) noted that "violence ... is about ... the intertwining of human emotions of fear, anger and excitement, in ways that run against the conventional morality of normal situations." Therefore, Jackman (2002: 388) observes, "violence has come to be viewed as comprising eruptions of hostility that have bubbled over the normal boundaries of social intercourse. When violence is motivated by positive intentions, or is the incidental by-product of other goals, or is socially accepted or lauded, it escapes our attention."
Thus examinations of violence have tended to overlook other than interpersonal forms, such as those that can reside in social and economic institutions. However concrete, observable, and measurable (see also Collins 2008) the physical injuries that have been studied, they provide only a partial picture of the wide array of injuries that human beings find consequential (Jackman 2002). As Jackman (2002: 393) insightfully notes, what is left out are sources of material injuries: "destruction, confiscation[,] ... or loss of earnings; the psychological outcomes of fear, anxiety, anguish, shame, or diminished self-esteem; and the social consequences of public humiliation, stigmatization, exclusion, imprisonment, [and] banishment ... are all highly consequential for human welfare." Often, the effects of nonphysical injuries are more enduring and traumatic than those caused by direct physical violence. For instance, verbal insults that humiliate and denigrate another person can inflict profound, long-lasting injuries that may alter an individual's sense of self, without there being a single punch or any other recognizable form of violence. Jackman (2002) acknowledges that social injuries are the least likely to be acknowledged in discussions of violence, although they are sometimes mentioned, as, for example, when it is argued that pornographic materials are acts of violence against women because they are demeaning to women. Ignoring the often nondramatic, quieter forms of injury results in a "patchy, ad hoc conception of violence" (Jackman 2002: 395). I heed Jackman's general call to open up the optic through which we examine violence so as to include and acknowledge the power and consequential effects of indirect forms of violence. Thus I seek not only to include other methods that individuals can use to inflict pain on one another, such as words, threats, insults, neglect, or even the actions of abusive employers. My aim is also to open the lens to include a wide range of sources of pain and injury that are not found in the actions of individuals, though often they are carried out by individuals, but in the "social order of things."
To accomplish my goal I have borrowed from a number of intellectual traditions and have used a lens that is broad and inclusive. In organizing a framework to help me to make sense of my observations in the Guatemalan Oriente, I have been cognizant of the diverse forms of violence that coexist in the Guatemalan context (see Green 1999). Many of these, mostly in their political form, have been skillfully studied by several scholars, both inside and outside Guatemala (Falla 1994; Grandin 2000; Green 1999; Manz 2004; Nelson 1999; Zepeda López 2005). And though I do not build directly on this scholarship, the body of work these scholars have produced has been influential in helping me to construct my analytic lens and shape my viewpoint. I follow Philippe Bourgois (2001) in including structural, political, symbolic, and everyday interpersonal forms of violence to unravel the interrelated strands that shape the lives of the women I came to know in eastern Guatemala. I add gender and gendered forms of violence as they coalesce in everyday events of life, not only in the extraordinary events of the women's lives. Iris Young's (1990) "five faces of oppression" (exploitation, marginalization, powerlessness, cultural imperialism, and random acts of violence) come close to the different facets of violence I include in the framework I have composed. Although these illuminate my work in many ways, I have employed some of these "faces" but not others. Having composed the framework I use here inductively, I have included those aspects of oppression that allow me to grasp the experiences of Guatemalan women more fully.
I also borrow from the work of critical anthropologists, such as Nancy Scheper-Hughes, Arthur Kleinman, and Paul Farmer; and I rely on Pierre Bourdieu's reflections on violence, on Javier Auyero's and Veena Das's writings on noninterpersonal violence in other regions of the world, and on the work of intellectuals preoccupied with the different varieties of everyday political and symbolic violence that coexist in Latin America, such as that of Edelberto Torres Rivas, Ignacio Martín-Baró, and other Latin American social scientists. From these scholars' writings, I have culled an ample supply of interpretations that focus not only on interpersonal, purposeful, physical, or more evident forms of violence but also on hidden, though equally damaging, forms of violence such as abuse, ill-treatment, neglect, indignities, inequalities, and victimization that take place in the quotidian normality of life. I lay out this framework in detail in chapter 2.
I also find Scheper-Hughes and Bourgois's (2004: 4) notion, "to 'trouble' distinctions between the visible and invisible, legitimate and illegitimate forms of violence in times that can best be described as neither war nor peacetime," relevant for the case I examine here. As Cynthia Cockburn (2004: 24) observes, "A gender perspective on the successive moments in the flux of peace and war is not an optional extra but a stark necessity." Indeed, Scheper-Hughes's (1997) notion of peacetime crimes to address the routinization of violence in everyday life-whether in the form of direct political violence or in the form of daily experiences of the poor and excluded-is especially appropriate for capturing the daily anguish in women's lives in eastern Guatemala.
An examination of violence that goes beyond observable forms and away from a strict focus on deviant interpretations of purposeful hostility between individuals opens up a window into everyday dynamics that normalize violence and contort human relations. To do this, however, one must look to familiar, noneventful, everyday situations. As Das (1997: 567) aptly argues, "One can see suffering not only in extraordinary events such as those of police firing on crowds of young children, but also in the routine of everyday life." But, as Carolyn Nordstrom (2004) observes, we are always more likely to be drawn to notice the physical aspects of violence, in particular of political violence, such as wounding, maiming, torture, and murder.
Eugene V. Walter's (1969: 8) definition of violence as "destructive harm[,] ... including not only physical assaults that damage the body, but also ... the many techniques of inflicting harm by mental or emotional means," based on his work on political violence in Africa, is also relevant for my work here. The forms of violence I examine are intricately related to the political violence that is associated with Guatemala but are left unexplored or attributed to other factors, such as tradition.. Only when verbalized do these forms of violence become visible and connections to broader structures made. Thus the lens I have developed allows me to retrieve the normalized and routinized violence inscribed in social relations, often misrecognized as pathological or "abnormal," or, to use Martín-Baró's (1994: 132) term when referring to chronic difficulties and burdens, "normal abnormality."
Although my approach is relevant for the Guatemalan case because it allows exposure of the insidious effects of living in a context of generalized violence, it may have broader applications, as there are many other postwar societies that are characterized by similar forms of structural and institutional violence and injustice, such as Northern Ireland, Colombia, South Africa, and El Salvador (Silber 2004; Steenkamp 2009). The conditions of violence created by a conflict, including the proliferation of arms, a culture of institutional violence by the security forces, poverty, and profound economic inequality (Moser and McIlwaine 2001), affect the transition to peace and become key factors in postwar violence (Steenkamp 2009). These effects are not confined to the material devastation in the aftermath of political violence but extend to changes in the individuals' minds, frames of thinking, and their very being. Nordstrom (1992) notes in her research in Mozambique and Sri Lanka that in societies that used terror and brutality as a means to control communities and in which civilians, rather than soldiers, were the tactical targets, violence was normalized and became part of life. In these instances, the psychological scarring left by the conflict is not easily erased by peace accords, especially when the structures behind the terror were left intact.
For instance, Steenkamp (2009) describes reports of Iraqi children incorporating in their games make-believe hijackings and decapitations and concludes that the children have internalized these forms of violence to which they have been exposed since the U.S-led invasion. Focusing on "postconflict" Guatemala, Diane M. Nelson (2009) argues that the way the war was waged affected the very frames of knowing and being and that therefore it continues to shape how those who lived through the conflict make sense of the violence and loss today. Given the long-term consequences of political violence on the very self, some scholars even question the use of the term postwar or postconflict. In her examination of memory in postdictatorship Chile, Macarena Gómez-Barris (2009) distinguishes between the terms aftermath, which refers to the economic and political legacy of political violence, and afterlife to capture the continued symbolic and material effects of the violence on people's lives and their social and psychic identities. Based on her comparative work on Cambodia and Guatemala, and in a call for a more inclusive lens beyond the political sphere in examinations of postwar violence, Sabine Kurtenbach (2008) argues that given the instability and fragility of these societies, a more apt descriptive term is war-torn. Indeed, the idea of a postwar era in a society that has been engulfed in violence for decades poses definitional challenges and questions efforts to separate conflict from postconflict violence. For instance, the crime waves observed in "postwar" societies in El Salvador, Haiti, South Africa, and Guatemala are often framed as "common crimes" or even "ordinary crimes" in a depoliticized manner that ignores structural links (Snodgrass Godoy 2006; Steenkamp 2009). As Benson, Fischer, and Thomas (2008: 39) note, "The very notion of a postwar era can have the effect of deflecting attention from the existence of subtler forms of violence and persistent linkages of violence to politics and the state [original emphasis]."
My fieldwork in Guatemala straddled the last years of the conflict and the first years of the postconflict era, though tellingly, for the women I came to know, this transition did not materialize in much change. A woman in eastern Guatemala told me that "the situation" was bad but that not everyone ran the same risks, for "sólo el que anda metido en algo, puede temer que algo malo le pase, ¿verdad?" (only those who are involved in something can be afraid that something bad can happen to them, right?), using the same frame to interpret political crime at the time of the conflict to make sense of the new crime wave.
Therefore, even if the case I analyze in depth is perhaps not generalizable to other contexts, some of my observations apply to experiences of violence in other so-called postwar societies. There are several examples of efforts throughout the world to examine the issue of gender-based violence, including a national conference held in Windhoek, Namibia, in June 2007 and the U.N.-sponsored international dialogue to prevent gender-based violence held in Kampala, Uganda, in September 2003. My contribution, together with observations from other contexts, invites a rethinking of the concept of violence (and peace) based on an amplified lens as key to grasping the ramifications of visible and invisible forms of violence in the lives of women around the world today.
The Study of Ladinos in Guatemala
According to the Guatemalan anthropologist Claudia Dary Fuentes (1994: 55), ladinos are a "sociocultural group characterized, at a very general level, by speaking Spanish as a mother tongue, by wearing Western clothes and shoes, and by practicing an array of customs of Spanish origin that are historically intertwined and syncretized with indigenous ones. Every time one refers to ladinos it is in relation to indigenous, like a negation of the indigenous." Furthermore, she notes, it has been assumed that ladinos are a homogeneous group, and she refers to ladinos as "the most forgotten group in Guatemalan history and anthropology" (1994: 55). The term ladino itself has been used to categorize different social groups at various points in time, and thus the term has not meant the same thing throughout Guatemalan history. But in the end, Dary Fuentes notes, the term includes social groups with different cultures and histories whose common denominator is the language they speak.
Although the focus of this book is not on issues of identity construction or racial relations in Guatemala (both towns in which I did fieldwork were quite homogeneous and thus offered few to no opportunities to observe direct interactions between indigenous Mayas and ladinos), I find it useful to briefly discuss questions about ladino identity because they have occupied center stage for scholars of Guatemala both in the country and outside, and it is ladinas on whom I focus here. The very definition of ladino, as well as the significance of this group for the study of race and ethnic relations in Guatemala, has a long and complicated history.
Nelson (1998: 102) observes that "the word ladino ... decomposes under the pressure of analysis into myriad terms that mark class, distinction, color, and history." Others, such as Robert Carmack (2001), have argued that that there is a social group between indigenous and ladinos that we might call mestizos, while still others(Guzmán Böckler 1975; Guzmán Böckler and Herbert 1972) have argued that ladinos are an invented group, that ladinos seek to flee both from the Indian and from themselves and thus are both nationals and foreigners in their own country, a view that highlights the ladinos' historical "'in-between' position" (Guzmán Böckler 1975). Ladinos are discriminated against by the elite, but they in turn discriminate against Indians, Carlos Guzmán Böckler (1975) argues, which leads them to seek a closer position with the white elite and greater distance from Indians. Others do not agree with the intermediary position of ladinos in the social hierarchy of Guatemala. Arturo Tarracena Arriola (1997, 2002) traces the historical emergence of ladinos as a social group and as a dominant class and argues that ladinos' historical role is not confined to that of mediators between the owners of coffee plantations and the indigenous workers because ladinos themselves were plantation owners. In Tarracena Arriola's view (2002: 411), the assimilation process of ladinos and the whitening of nonindigenous groups in the late nineteenth century cemented the indigenous-ladino bipolarity, which was then formalized and supported by the statistical strategy of dividing the population into ladinos and indigenous and became the basis of Guatemala's national project (416). More recently, Charles Hale (2006) has examined how ladinos experience their racial ambivalence at a time when Guatemala has undergone enormous change and Mayas have made important advances for their collective rights.
Important in the debate about ladino identity and social position is how they view themselves vis-à-vis the Mayas (or Indians) and how they act on these views in the context of Guatemala's ethno-racial hierarchy. Marta Elena Casaús Arzú's (1998, 2007) survey of the views that the oligarchy, where individuals self-identified as whites, ladinos, criollos, or mestizos, have with respect to marital relations, marriage, work, and so on, with Indians provides an in-depth look into how the ruling class's different groups construct one another and what they do to sustain socially constructed divisions. Hale's (2006) study provides a key reminder of the heterogeneity of positions and views among ladinos. Analyses such as these have challenged dichotomies and constructed bipolarities and represent important road maps for examining ladinas' lives. In line with these approaches and paralleling Dary Fuentes's (1994) observations, my focus on the ladinas in this study can also serve to correct the homogenizing tendencies seen in discussions about ladinos as a social group in Guatemala.
The deeply rooted racial divisions in Guatemala have led scholars to examine the divisions between ladinos and indigenous in terms of a caste or a semicaste system (Colby and van den Berghe 1969; Tumin 1952), in which the indigenous remain at the bottom. Whereas I cannot disagree with these observations, I would like to note important forms of ladino social differentiation that add complexity to the picture. For instance, whereas the overwhelming majority of ladinos are poor, it is the elite among this group who have dominated government, commerce, manufacturing, and the political and economic life of the country. And even though ladinos were targets of political violence in the 1970s, when the government was targeting labor union members, students, teachers, and anyone who dared to speak up, the brutality of the campaign of terror in the highlands, as the conflict expanded, was overwhelmingly focused on the indigenous Maya, a situation that prompted researchers, many from the north, to focus their attention on Maya indigenous communities.
Scholarly work and involvement in Guatemalan indigenous communities has shaped how Guatemala has been understood and presented outside Guatemala (Blacklock and Crosby 2004). The concentration on the indigenous Maya has resulted in a lopsided production of knowledge, with hundreds of volumes dedicated to the study of the Mayas, covering almost every township in the Guatemalan Altiplano and many of the twenty-one indigenous Maya groups but only a handful of books about the "other half" of the population, ladinos (Hale 2006). Overlaid on the dichotomized view of Maya and indigenous, there are also bipolarities in images about eastern and western Guatemala. Michelle Moran-Taylor (2008) notes that although these two regions often are contrasted due to the differences they exhibit in ethnicities, landscape, and land tenure systems, researchers rarely focus on ladinos (in eastern Guatemala) because they lack the exoticism of the Altiplano. Ladinos, however, have not been completely erased from scholarship on Guatemala (beyond the study of racial and ethnic relations); they were the subject of research in classical historical and anthropological studies of Guatemala, several of which focused on comparing and contrasting the customs, social organization, and lifestyles of Mayas and ladinos (cf. Goldín 1987; Maynard 1975 ), as well as the systematic social inequalities and hierarchical relations between and among Mayas and ladinos (Adams 1964; Bossen 1983, 1984; Reina 1973; Tax 1942). But in current scholarship on Guatemala there is an undisputed focus on the Maya. Hale's (2006) recent work stands as an exception in contemporary examinations.
Following in the tradition of recent scholarship on Guatemala, women in the Guatemalan Altiplano, mostly Maya, have been the subject of research (e.g., Carey 2006; Ehlers 2000), though a considerable portion of this work has not engaged with issues of violence. Only a few scholars interested in unearthing the brutality of state terror have focused on its gendered expressions among Maya women (see Green 1999; Zur 1998). However, research on Maya women in the Altiplano has highlighted important gender inequalities and its consequences for their lives (see Ehlers 2000). My own work on the lives of ladinas in Oriente is substantively informed by this research and in many ways complements the work that has been conducted in the Altiplano.
Development of the Theme
At this point it is helpful to give a brief account of how I arrived at the study of violence in women's lives. I must clarify, for instance, that I did not set out to do research on violence in Guatemala, as has been the case for many other scholars who have documented it in their writings. In fact, during my first several visits and interviews, beginning in late 1994, I did not ask the women in the town in Oriente I call "San Alejo" any questions about manifestations or expressions of violence in their lives. It was not my aim to look for violence; instead, the women pointed it out to me. It was their own narratives and my close listening to what they were telling me that eventually led me to an examination of violence in their lives.
I was participating in a project whose objective was to study how women's informal networks help them deal with pregnancy-related health care and with their children's illnesses, both in Maya and in ladino towns. I had been interested in immigrant informal networks and how individuals perceive their participation in them; joining a project in Guatemala offered me an opportunity to examine comparatively networks in the home country with networks among immigrants from the same communities in the United States (I also did fieldwork among Guatemalan women in Los Angeles as part of this project). Thus my main task was to conduct in-depth interviews with Mayas and ladinas about the role of their informal ties in relation to medical treatments, which I did. But in an inductive fashion, the topic of violence evolved from my fieldwork. I had expected, to a degree, that the Maya women in the Altiplano would bring up the topic of violence (in particular, in its political forms) and its impact on their lives. I had not anticipated, however, that the ladinas would also bring up violence (in its other manifestations) in our conversations. The ladinas would mention events and situations that were similar to those I had expected to find in the Altiplano, such as deaths and similar forms of direct violence. But their narratives also shed light on the suffering that comes from social exclusion and extreme poverty, as well as the injuries that come from gender inequality. Perhaps after spending a long enough time in Guatemala, violence in its multiple forms becomes a topic that is hard to ignore, not only as expressed through words in conversations, but also as seen palpably through observation of life in general. The ladinas would bring up topics that evinced suffering, fear, and pain in different spheres of their lives in a matter-of-fact way, as they would tell me, "Así es por aquí" (It's the way it is around here). Like pulling a thread, I followed their lead to eventually identify violence in their lives and to unearth multiple connections to weave the different parts into a story of violence that was specific to Oriente.
As I pored over sets of field notes and interview transcripts from the first visits to San Alejo, looking for patterns of usage of informal ties, I noticed at first that the women were preoccupied with the insecurity of life, with what I thought were issues of poverty and its consequences. Their words, however, conveyed much more than that. I also noticed that it was not only poor women who seemed anxious, as if they were in a permanent state of anxiety; women with more resources and relatively wealthy women in town also spoke in similar terms about the afflictions, humiliations, and indignities they experienced as women. I then started to take note of the words the women were using to describe their lives, words of urgency that conveyed much more than a general preoccupation with everyday events. One striking word that in itself may not be associated with violence as it is commonly understood but that came up repeatedly in the women's narratives was aguantar, "to endure," conjugated in various forms and referring to a wide variety of situations. For instance, women would say, "¿Y que puedo hacer? Nomás aguantar me queda" (And what can I do? The only thing left for me to do is to endure), or "Aguanto, ¿y para dónde?" (I must endure, what else can I do ?). This verb conveyed an underlying, steady suffering in the women's lives but also resignation and acceptance; it also implied that everyone went through it, and thus it was nothing out of the ordinary. In subsequent visits I limited myself to listening more attentively to these topics as they came up during conversations, probing a little but not digging too much so as not to obtain responses that would simply confirm what I expected. I was not sure of my initial observations and needed to pay closer attention. In my last visits I did bring up the topic in very general terms with people who worked at a health post, with a pastor, and with other individuals in town, as well as with colleagues in Guatemala City. In typical fashion in qualitative research, therefore, key insights that would veer the course of my investigation in a different direction came from the women's own observations about their conditions, from conversations with many more people than the women I formally interviewed, and from reflections about life in general during discussions in encounters with others during the time I spent in the field. As such, it took me a long time to arrive at this examination of violence. To convey the women's own understandings, I use endure in the title of this book to mean an enduring, lasting condition but also in the sense of aguantar (to endure, to tolerate), as the women used it.
In one of my last visits to Guatemala, during dinner in Guatemala City with a Guatemalan physician friend, we discussed the topic of violence. Comparing life in Guatemala and El Salvador, where I had just visited, I mentioned that somehow I felt more insecure and wary in Guatemala than in El Salvador, when both countries were in "postwar" transitions and had similar rates of violence and common crime. She told me that many people felt that way and assured me it was irrelevant that I was a native of (and more familiar with) El Salvador and perhaps less familiar with Guatemala. "It's that Guatemala is violent," she added with a smile. "That's the truth, what can I tell you!" She went on to explain the many aspects in which she considered her country violent, a list that went far beyond robberies, kidnappings, or killings. We had a good discussion of the fear that not only comes from direct physical violence but also is embedded in institutions and practices. After listening to similar assessments from others, going back to San Alejo to corroborate my thoughts, and taking the time for reflection, I started to search the literature for a framework that would allow me to grasp the multisided violence I observed in the lives of ladinas in eastern Guatemala. The framework I have put together has helped me to make sense of how a context of multilayered violence shapes the lives of those who live in it and to understand the manifold ramifications of fear and terror in a society during "peacetime."
Research Notes and Reflections
This project started out as part of a larger comparative study of maternal and child health in Maya and ladino communities in Guatemala. From the initial stages, in late 1994, I started visiting and conducting fieldwork and in-depth interviews in a predominantly Maya town in the Guatemalan Altiplano and in an overwhelmingly ladino one in the eastern part of the country. My fieldwork consisted of relatively short visits that extended over five years, ending formally in 2000. In the initial stages of fieldwork, I conducted thirty in-depth interviews with ladinas in San Alejo and twenty-eight interviews with Maya women in the Altiplano. After asking the women for permission, I recorded all the initial interviews and at least one, but usually more, follow-up interviews. I found that carrying my tape recorder, even if I did not always record all conversations, was useful for establishing my presence as a researcher, and it allowed the women to signal whether a topic that came up was or was not to be part of the study. One woman in the Altiplano did not want to be tape-recorded but agreed to the interview. Two women in San Alejo asked me to turn off the tape recorder while we conversed about issues they did not want me to record (and thus are not part of this book).
I followed up my initial interviews with visits to the same women on average once a year in both towns. I went to their homes, walked in the streets where we would converse, attended church and temples, and spent time in the places where they conducted their daily lives. I lived in a room I rented in a house in the center of both towns, and in the Altiplano I developed a good friendship with the owner of the house. The owner of this house rented rooms to people who came from Guatemala City to work in the town, such as a Maya dentist, a physician, and a justice of the peace, so I had the opportunity to have regular conversations with them. She also served lunch and dinner at her house as part of her business. One of the regulars was a well-respected Maya schoolteacher who lived in a large house in the center of town. He was a bachelor and preferred to take his meals at this woman's house. My conversations with him helped me to understand many aspects of life in Guatemala, including the effects of the political violence and the 1976 earthquake, among other topics. In addition, I met with officials in both towns, with council members (including the mayor of San Alejo), priests, pastors, neighbors, teachers, coworkers, nurses at the health posts, and physicians, often more than once. In San Alejo I had the opportunity to converse several times with an older, respected man from a well-to-do family who provided me with a great deal of information. In the text I refer to him as the self-appointed historian of San Alejo. This man and two nurses and a physician at the health post became good sounding boards for my thoughts and reflections about life in San Alejo in general.
An important aspect of the initial stages of my fieldwork, which I retained for the duration of the study, was alternating my research stints between the two towns. I would stay one week in San Alejo, go to the Altiplano for one week, return to San Alejo for another week, and so on. This back-and-forth approach was key to helping me develop some of the most important points in this project. It allowed me to compare, contrast, reflect, and rethink what I heard from the ladinas in light of what the Maya women, who lived in the epicenter of direct, political violence, were telling me. I was not looking for the same or even similar kinds of violence in the ladinas' lives, or seeking to compare "rates" of violence, but the accounts of the Maya women helped me to retrieve the violence in the narratives of the ladinas. Given their importance in the developing of my argument and my overall framework, comparisons with the women in the Altiplano are mentioned throughout the book.
To ensure that the focus of this book would be the town in Oriente and to avoid the impression that this is a fully comparative study that devotes equal time and treatment to women in both contexts, I decided to give a specific (fictitious) name to the eastern town (San Alejo) and use the general name of the highland region, Altiplano, for the town that is not as salient in my analysis but that affords me a key comparative lens. I am fully aware that ladinas also live in the Altiplano and that Mayas also live in Oriente and that it is complicated to equate geographic regions with social groups so neatly. My references to the fieldwork in the Altiplano should serve as a reminder of the essential place of that region in how I approached the study of violence in Oriente. Just as the rich literature about the Altiplano has influenced my thinking about violence in Guatemala, my own observations there shaped my reflections on violence in women's lives in Oriente.
I follow the same logic in giving pseudonyms to my study participants; I assigned a fictitious name to each of the women I interviewed (and with whom I remained in contact throughout my study in both towns) to protect their confidentiality. But I did not give a name to others in their families (e.g., mothers, daughters, husbands, sons), unless I also interviewed them. As in a photograph, this strategy helped me to include key figures in the women's lives in the analytic picture while keeping the focus on my study participants. And I use only first names for the women. Thus I do not use the customary honorific doña, which I did use throughout my fieldwork, regardless of the women's age or social position. In the field, but only when the women requested it, I later used only the more informal first names, as it sometimes became a bit awkward to continue to use the formal salutation in our conversations.
I was careful to include women from different socioeconomic backgrounds in San Alejo (and to some degree in the Altiplano, too). This approach allowed me an invaluable vantage point to examine how the combined effects of social class and gender inequalities operated in the women's lives, as well as to grasp the workings of orthodox gender ideologies that cut across social class. Thus both the comparisons by ethnicity between San Alejo and the Altiplano and the comparisons by class in San Alejo were key to helping me sharpen my analytic vision and the arguments I present here.
Why, several colleagues and friends have asked, if I collected data on the Altiplano did I not write about violence in the lives of women there. They gave compelling reasons for doing so, including the fact that the undisputed atrocities against the Maya deserve the attention of many more scholars. Others said that the Guatemalan Oriente is a place that does not offer much in terms of analysis. "It's boring over there," a Guatemalan colleague said with a touch of disappointment when I told her where I was going to do fieldwork. However, she added something that planted a seed of curiosity in my head: "It's crazy out there. No laws there, only la ley del muy macho [the law of the very macho]. Be careful, OK? It's our Wild West out there." "Yes, the Guatemalan Wild West is in the east," she added with a chuckle. Another colleague explained that the Maya had an amazingly rich culture and that I should study their traditions instead. "Besides," a friend noted, "it's too hot and dusty in Oriente." These perceptions about the Guatemalan Oriente sometimes have a base in reality. For instance, Moran-Taylor (2008: 80) describes the region in Oriente where she did fieldwork as hot, dry, and characterized by large estates, cattle ranches, and machista values. At the same time, images of Guatemala's Oriente as the polar opposite of the highlands might serve to perpetuate the indigenous-ladino bipolarity and to accept the differences between the two groups as natural and immutable and not as socially constructed (see Tarracena Arriola 2002: 38). Arguments that Guatemala's political violence occurred in the Altiplano while the violence of "common" crime occurred in Oriente build on this geographic bipolarity to construct an image of these types of violence as different and independent of each other, obscuring the deep links that exist between the two. In the end, perhaps because only a couple of colleagues seemed encouraging about my fieldwork in eastern Guatemala, I decided to focus my energy on learning more about women's lives there. Thus my work sometimes conforms to the often stereotypical notions of Oriente as chaotic and violent; but it also challenges these images by pointing to the complexity and diversity of social life in this understudied region. And though my focus is the lives of the ladinas, my work also illuminates important aspects of how Maya women live with and experience old and new forms of violence in their everyday lives.
The town of San Alejo has a largerly homogeneous ladino population, but the southeastern department of Jalapa where it is located has sizable minorities of K'iche' and Pokomam Maya, among other Maya groups. My fieldwork in the Altiplano took place in the western department of Chimaltenango, a predominantly Maya region with ladino concentrations in some municipios (townships), but the town in which I did fieldwork was overwhelmingly Kaqchikel Maya. The towns were roughly equal in terms of population size, and agricultural production was the main form of employment. Indeed, they were selected for inclusion in the larger study based on their comparability. Since details of the women's lives are key to making my points, I did not alter their stories, unless they compromised the women's confidentiality. Instead, I give fewer details about the towns themselves, to make them (I trust) unrecognizable and therefore provide whatever protection I can to my study participants' privacy.
As it is customarily expected in research that involves in-depth interviews, field observations, and long-term interaction with study participants, I offer a brief account of how I think I was perceived and my position vis-à-vis my interlocutors. No doubt, my study participants' perceptions of me provided the contour for the nature and content of our conversations and my work.
The project in which I participated initially was housed in Guatemala at the Instituto de Nutrición de Centro América y Panamá (Central America and Panama Institute for Nutrition; INCAP). In the towns where I did the research for this project, my first visits were to the authorities (mayors and public officials) to ask for their permission to conduct fieldwork. I then met with the employees at the health post, since the project's objective was to look for women with children at home to see what they did when they or their children were ill. From that point, I started to contact individual women, whom I approached as part of the project. Although I explained that I was there to study what mothers did when they or their children were ill, some people knew me as someone who was interested in children (even as I would correct misperceptions). But in San Alejo I conveyed an additional image: because I concentrated on speaking with women and spoke with men only in the presence of women and because I also talked with pastors and priests and attended religious services, I came to be perceived as a "religious" worker. A woman told me that this was the case because I always walked around accompanied by my assistant, a Guatemalan, dressed "decently" (no pants, no jewelry, no makeup, long skirt) and was not interested in approaching men. Although I always corrected this impression, it persisted for some time.
Language and ethnicity also work in interesting ways. In the Altiplano, because I do not speak Kaqchikel, I was able to speak only with the women who could communicate in Spanish. My native fluency in Spanish obviously would not offset my lack of knowledge of Kaqchikel in the Altiplano, but in San Alejo it led to an interesting dynamic. There people would immediately detect that though I was a native speaker, I was not from the region. They would politely ask me if I was "Central American" or, more often, "de por aquí" (from around here), though a few correctly guessed my Salvadoran origin at first try. In my initial visits a couple of women told me that I should not, at least at first, be too open about my Salvadoran origin. "Salvadoran women," one woman noted, "with my respect to you, because you are decent, do not have very good reputations around here." "You see," the woman who ran the health post explained, "this is embarrassing for me to tell you, but I have to. There have been many [female] compatriots of yours who have passed through here [on their way North] who have not behaved properly. Some have gotten involved with men, married men and like that, you know, and everybody now thinks that all Salvadoran women are prostitutes. It pains me to tell you, but don't feel bad. As the saying goes, 'De todo hay en la viña del Señor' [In God's vineyard one can find good and bad]." She went on to explain that two Salvadoran sex workers who were supposedly infected with AIDS had just passed through. "Even on the radio they were announcing that two Salvadoran prostitutes were going around infecting men with AIDS. So just try not to speak like a Salvadoran," she warned, "at least not at first."
Thus what I had thought would be my language advantage, at least initially, proved a challenge for me. As I got to know people and they got to know me, I began to disclose my origins little by little. To my surprise, however, I discovered that most had already figured out where I was from, quite easily actually, but had also decided that I had "no bad intentions" and that I was "respectable" and "decent" because no one ever saw me "behaving improperly" with men. This, of course, has to do with gendered expectations about how women should behave and also with how gendered ideologies restrict women's freedom of movement in social spaces.
I suppose I was an outsider/insider in San Alejo. I was perceived as an outsider because of my national origin, sometimes prompting people to explain certain things to me in detail, such as wedding customs or certain ways to cook a dish, or to tell me a joke about Salvadorans (women would invariably stop men from sharing jokes about Salvadoran women with me; "No, not to her," they would say). But I was viewed as an insider because of my ethnicity. I was identified as a ladina, perhaps as one of them, and the result of this identification could be noticed in some of the subtleties in the conversations we had but also sometimes more overtly. In fact, two women told me that because I "looked" Guatemalan and at times even "sounded" like one when I inadvertently spoke with a similar accent or used a Guatemalan colloquialism in my speech, I would probably be expected to behave in certain ways, like someone "from here, not from other [places], like a gringa; one knows that they behave more, like, more open, more libertine." Dorinne Kondo (1990) notes similar experiences while doing fieldwork in Tokyo.
In the Altiplano, where I was seen as another outsider, people seemed more familiar with researchers and other types of foreign visitors, such as the Americans and Europeans who worked in the textile cooperatives or church missions or researchers doing work similar to what I was doing. I became close with two families, especially with Flor, a well-known woman who also worked at the health post, and her extended family. When my husband came to visit me, they had a small gathering and took the opportunity to feed us, joke, laugh, tease me, and even dress me in their traje (traditional clothing) for a photo with their entire family. When I had visitors I always took them to meet these families as a sign of respect but also so that these families could get a glimpse of who I was and meet my loved ones as well. In the end, I trust that in both towns I was able to converse easily with the women and others in a respectful, open manner.
Organization of the Book
In chapter 2 I present my conceptual framework for studying violence and begin to introduce study participants as I lay out each component of the framework so as to illustrate the different forms of violence and the normalization of each form. This is the only chapter of the book in which I discuss each of the different forms of violence that I examine separately, and I do so only for analytic clarity. Starting with chapter 3 and continuing through chapter 7, I present different spheres of the women's everyday lives in which the diverse forms of violence coalesce and are normalized. But it is important to note that in real life these occur simultaneously. In order to dissect each sphere of life analytically, I unfurl each linearly in the chapters ahead. And I do so according to a certain order.
Chapter 3 begins with a consideration of the closest, most intimate sphere, the body. I examine how women experience in their bodies the violence that comes from structural inequalities and unequal access to health care and other resources, as well as from the gender ideologies that constrain their lives. This account includes various forms of illnesses and the ways in which the women deal with them. Chapter 3 also presents an examination of the social control of the body, exemplified in the strict control of women's movement that comes from orthodox gender ideologies. Chapters 4 and 5 deal with immediate aspects of the women's home lives, such as marriage and children. Chapter 4 presents a semichronological sequence of marriage, beginning with courtship, and includes an examination of alcoholism, infidelity, and interpersonal abuse, a tripartite source of violence that has become so bound up with constructs of maleness that it is seen as natural (Hume 2008). Chapter 5 is devoted to children, also following a semichronological progression that starts out with pregnancy, continues with childbirth and the care of children, and ends with child deaths. Each aspect traces the links between the individuals' actions and perceptions and the structures of violence that shape lives. Chapters 6 and 7 discuss aspects of life outside the home, such as work, church, and religion. I do not mean to draw a strict division between what is private and what is public in women's lives,; as we know well, productive and reproductive spheres are not so clearly demarcated. Indeed, it is in this light that I include two chapters on what some may see as public spheres but are not presented as such in my analysis. The private is very much part of life beyond the home and vice versa, and these chapters help to dissolve the perceived strict demarcations. Examining life in the areas of work and church and religion, away from the intimacy of the home, allows us to see how violence is embedded in structures and social relations and actively normalized beyond the home. Chapter 6 deals with meanings that women (and others in the family) attach to women's work outside the home and the opportunities that such work presents for sociability, but it also shows the workplace as a site that highlights the insecurity of life and sources of suffering. Chapter 7 discusses the place of religion and the church in the women's lives, presenting information not only on how the women perceive this area of life but also on how religious spaces end up normalizing the reality of their suffering, providing succor but through doing so maintaining structures the way they are. In chapter 8 I place my observations about violence in Guatemala in a broader context, linking them to more open, recognizable forms, such as the current wave of feminicide in the country.