Women's political consciousness and empowerment in local, national, and transnational contexts: Guatemalan refugees and returnees

Authors
Citation
Pr. Pessar, Women's political consciousness and empowerment in local, national, and transnational contexts: Guatemalan refugees and returnees, IDENTITIES, 7(4), 2001, pp. 461-500
Citations number
62
Language
INGLESE
art.tipo
Article
Categorie Soggetti
Sociology & Antropology
Journal title
IDENTITIES-GLOBAL STUDIES IN CULTURE AND POWER
ISSN journal
1070-289X → ACNP
Volume
7
Issue
4
Year of publication
2001
Pages
461 - 500
Database
ISI
SICI code
1070-289X(200101)7:4<461:WPCAEI>2.0.ZU;2-K
Abstract
This study of Guatemalan refugees and returnees contributes to the small co rpus of work that interrogates gender and migration/exile from the vantage points of women's political consciousness and empowerment. In taking up the se issues, it also seeks to broaden feminist thinking about citizenship by engaging not only local and national contexts in which women's citizenship are forged, but also transnational ones. Acknowledging that gender operates simultaneously on multiple geographical scales, the article examines how contexts as diverse as bodies, states, and refugee camps become strategic sites for struggles over women's and men's human rights and citizenship. The study reveals that in the transnational c ontext of refugee camps, the agency of Guatemalan women was greatly enhance d by the fact of their being female and indigenous. This, in turn, facilita ted their membership in broad political coalitions that cross national bord ers. Unfortunately, these very same social locations (i.e. female and indig enous)-and women's newfound identities as transnational subjects-proved hig hly disadvantageous once the refugees returned to the "fold" of local commu nities and the Guatemalan nation-state. This study attributes the erosion i n returnee-women's rights and overall empowerment to several factors: the d isciplining arm of the Guatemalan state, which seeks to resubjugate its new transnational subjects, a duplicitous male refugee leadership pleased to r egain its traditional gender privileges, and transnational organizations an d social movements that often fail to honor their commitments to those who had previously dared to think and act beyond the patriarchal confines of th e nation-state.