Brie M Gettleson

Social Science Librarian

Award Information

2011 IDRF Program

AnthropologyThe New School

The Politics of Femicide in Guatemala

This research investigates the effects of a gendered approach to violence in Guatemala by tracing femicide (defined most generally as the murder of women for reasons of gender) through the work of human rights organizations, institutions of the Guatemalan state, and women’s groups. Since the end of the 36 year-long war between the state and guerrilla groups, Guatemala has emerged as a global epicenter of an escalating femicide crisis, as identified by human rights organizations. Guatemala has one of the highest femicide rates in the world, but the murder rate for men remains far higher—so why is it the murder of women that is capable of garnering international attention? This research begins from the assumption that femicide not only measures the murder of women, but is utilized as a means to hold the Guatemalan state accountable for ongoing impunity by Guatemalan activists and international human rights bodies. This research hypothesizes that femicide is capable of politicizing violence in a way that a “gender-neutral” approach is not. Drawing from scholarship on feminist politics, violence, governance, and the post-war Guatemalan state, this research asks about the intentional and unintentional political consequences of a gendered approach to violence as a means of seeking accountability. Research will be carried out through twelve months of continuous ethnographic research in Guatemala consisting of media archival research, formal and informal interviews, and participant observation with NGOs and representatives of the Guatemalan government, beginning in July 2011.