Murdered women on the border: Gender, territory and power in Ciudad Juarez
Faubion, James D.
Doctor of Philosophy
This dissertation examines the sexual killing of women in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, at the tum of the 21st century. Focusing on the abduction and murder of a 15-year-old young woman named Esmeralda Herrera Monreal, whose body was recovered in 2001 in a mass grave that included seven other female victims, it questions how the social categories of gender, space and power shape both everyday violence and the murder of women in a highly industrialized yet structurally underdeveloped city. The dissertation examines varying notions of womanhood in Esmeralda's family in the context of domestic violence, migration from urban to rural contexts, and the experience of sexual murder. It also argues that gendered violence is the product of an emergent form of hyper masculinity in U.S.-Mexico border zones, informed by the history, style and logics of militarization and organized crime. The dissertation then explores the spatial geography of violence in Juarez, and how the victimization of both men and women is shaped by the constant struggle between social groups for sovereignty and control of territory. Finally, it traces the development of a new configuration of power in border zones that is produced between the interstices of the State, the secondary State of organized crime, and of capital, a form of power that relies on the continued production of violence and terror for its reproduction and maintenance. Throughout the dissertation, narrative and ethnography are employed strategically in order to help make sense of an episode of social crime that superficially appears to defy meaning.