Las Madres De Chihuahua: Maternal Activism, Public Disclosure, and the Politics of Visibility

Elva F. Orozco Mendoza (Christian University, Fort Worth, Texas, USA)
Publication Year
The Americas
Thematic Area
Families / The Search Process
Advocacy / Participation / Family Needs / Memorialization / Right to Know/Truth
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Women simultaneously occupy a space of both strength and vulnerability in Mexico. While existing institutions, traditions, and gender norms create the conditions whereby feminicide and forced disappearances proliferate, responses to these events prominently feature maternal calls for justice. How do the victims’ mothers counter extreme gender violence in Ciudad Juárez? Existing accounts of maternal politics typically fall into three wide categories: celebratory accounts, critical approaches, and the theatrical dimension of maternal politics. While these accounts provide important insights into the political power of maternal politics, they do not adequately explain its pedagogical function. Bringing to bear the insights of Judith Butler’s performative theory of public assembly and Rita Laura Segato’s anthropology of violence, this article suggests that maternal politics transforms private experiences of extreme gender violence into political expressions of strength and agency to politically beget what Segato defines as counter pedagogies of cruelty.