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Abstract

This essay is based on a photovoice project conducted in Guatemala City from January to May 2013 with seven Ladina women living in the most dangerous urban settlement of Guatemala City. This project is part of a larger ethnography that studies the mental health systems of care in a context of acute gender violence. In fact, the Guatemalan government has yet to ratify a mental health policy, or to develop mental health jurisdiction to protect the rights of individuals diagnosed with a mental illness. In this context, women living in urban spaces suffer disproportionally from diagnosis of mental illness and incidences and gender violence and are routinely doubly discriminated: for being women and for expressing a mental health need. Thus, the photographs taken by Sara, Maria, Estela, and Ana provide the visual evidence to understand the socializing forces of violence and trauma on mental health in a country where there is no public investment in such field. This photo essay of Ladinas? everyday illustrates how a lack of policy enables feminicidal practices and thus, makes mental health a landscape of violence. The images captured by these seven Ladinas further illustrate how resisting the everydayness of gender violence is an exercise of a gendered citizenship that accounts for an expression of mental health in this particular context. Through a process of reflection and dialogue with Sara, Maria, Estela, and Ana, this paper provides a powerful in-sight into defining and conceptualizing mental health from the Guatemalan everyday experience.

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