Appointed As

Office of International and Summer Programs


ACLS Emerging Voices Fellowships program


Emory University

PhD Field of Study

PhD, Hispanic Studies, University of Georgia

Dissertation Abstract

"Representations of Gender and Violence in Women’s Cultural Production in the Northern Triangle of Central America: Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador (1990-2017)"

My dissertation analyzes representations of violence against women in the Northern Triangle of Central America (Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador) in a selected work of study that includes fiction, testimonies, art performance, and visual arts by underrepresented female intellectuals from the Northern Triangle. I examine how gender violence does not occur in isolation but is interconnected with other forms of violence such as political and criminal violence. In my research I demonstrate that the work of female intellectuals from 1990–2017 challenges common knowledge on gender violence as normal and acceptable. The corpus that I analyze puts in evidence that gender violence, as a social construct, is a mechanism of control that is put in place through institutionalized systems of power. These male-dominated systems of power include the patriarchal States of impunity, the political elite, the military, and the illegal armed forces that operate as another form of government in the Northern Triangle. Interpreting gender violence among this corpus evokes memories of the armed conflict from the 1980s while reflecting on similar violence within the contemporary scenarios of sexual abuse, incest, and feminicide. I argue that the way Central American women theorize gender violence shapes the way they construct their subjectivity. This gives us a compelling perspective to uncover the roots of the systems of power that validate feminicide and gender violence in all its manifestations beyond the borders of the Northern Triangle countries.
My theoretical framework draws primarily from decolonial concepts of Argentinian anthropologist Rita Segato and African philosopher Achille Mbembe. Their work explores the ways in which capitalism and neo-colonization disseminate new forms of governing through modern projects of foreign investment and private security in the Global South. Based on this notion and Mbembe’s concept of necropolitics, or the politics of death, I first establish how the Northern Triangle countries are necrodemocracies. This is a new form of governing where the machineries of power within capitalism and patriarchy are inter-connected with organized criminal groups and the States of impunity to validate their pedagogy of violence. I argue that these necrodemocracies develop new forms of social control that take the shape of old forms of violence in States of war and exception. Likewise, under these necrodemocracies there is a resurgence of both violent masculinities and a structural dispossession of rights and human value of the female bodies and subjectivities that reinforces within the social contexts the asymmetrical gender systems of power.
Following this theoretical framework to analyze the selected corpus of my dissertation, I argue that in the necrodemocracies of the Northern Triangle countries of Central America, women, primarily indigenous, poor, mestizas, black, and trans, or non-conforming to heteronormative patriarchal systems in power, are subjected to, as Judith Butler proposes, a “structural differential distribution of precarity.” This differential distribution presents itself in physical, political, and economic ways, and gives rise to extreme forms of gendered violence, now more than before. More broadly, my research reveals the need to approach gendered violence in the Northern Triangle countries from an analytical standpoint where we look beyond the statistics. We need to look at individuals’ stories, at women’s narratives and lived experiences as they contribute to our understanding of how gender violence exists within a structural dynamic that if not exposed goes unrecognized and unpunished.