Journal Issue:
Special Photo Essay Issue: Policy and Violence

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The War on Drugs is a War on Migrants: Central Americans Navigate the Perilous Journey North
(2015-02-19) Vogt, Wendy
Propelled by deep structural violence and the highest homicide rates in the world, each year hundreds of thousands of people from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala make their way across Mexico in search of a better and more secure future. As state and transnational security regimes tighten, migrants are funneled into more dangerous routes where they risk abuse, extortion, kidnapping, rape, dismemberment and death. Based on intensive ethnographic fieldwork working in migrant shelters and transit points, this photo essay examines how present-day violence against migrants cannot be separated from longer trajectories of political, criminal and structural violence including war, neoliberal restructuring and the hemispheric war on drugs. I pay particular attention to the ways state and transnational immigration and security policies impact the everyday vulnerabilities experienced by migrants in transit. Along their journeys, migrants are caught within a clandestine cycle of violence with little recourse to law or human rights protection. Immigration discourses and policies that are governed through a paradigm of national security come into conflict with the on the ground realities of human security and safety. This raises crucial questions on the role of the state and international bodies in moving forward to secure human rights for unauthorized migrants in active transit. The photographs included in this essay document the everyday landscapes of the migrant journey across Mexico. While the focus is on the intersections between policy and violence, I also reflect on the growing migrant rights movement in Mexico and new openings for political change. While the migrant journey has become more dangerous, it has also become a crucial space for collective struggle and solidarity.
Suspended Life
(2015-02-19) Jones, Dalton Anthony; Jacques, Jacinthe
Dean Baker, of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, reminds us that globalization and the explosion in social inequality over the past half century have not “just happened” of their own accord, but have occurred by design. Free trade agreements, deregulation policies, corporate downsizing, the privatization of resources and the evisceration of the social safety net, “are carefully hammered out deals that determine which sectors will [be] exposed to more competition, which sectors will see increased protection (e.g. pharmaceuticals and Disney), and which sectors will largely be left alone.”1 The resulting transformations in the fabric of human society mark a quite explicit attempt to dislocate previous social arrangements in order to impose and regiment ― make permanent ― new alignments of hyper-exploitation among the international labor force. Suspended Life uses images to reveal the structural violence that informs the juridical, political and cultural relationship between property and bodies. The massive geographic and inter-personal dislocations that have resulted from the range of practices falling under the rubric of “neoliberalism” are often marked as an absence, a ghostly estrangement that has spread like a quiet cancer across the American heartland, leaving only the outlines of the social relations they have displaced. In the upheaval that has left an exhausted, desolate landscape in its wake, we are not only able to discern the outlines of an idealized past but also the more troubling remnants of colonial-settlerism, racism and the promises of an American dream that was always more horizon than reality.
Disabling Structures: Perspectives on Marginalization in a Russian Cityscape
(2015-02-19) Hartblay, Cassandra
A recent Human Rights Watch report documented the ways in which people with mobility impairments in Russia are both physically and socially marginalized by the built environment in Russian cities, which is strikingly inaccessible. These photos attempt to center the perspective of people with disabilities traversing (or being limited by) the Russian cityscape, and explore the ways in which (failure to adhere to) building codes effectively limit the public participation of people with (certain) disabilities in the daily life of the democracy. Subtle barriers, immediately obvious to a wheelchair-‐‐user, begin to emerge for the viewer considering these photographs. They document the ways in which people with disabilities recognize the material structures of the city as socially produced, and as a key factor excluding them from public life. Seemingly passive objects and the history of particular infrastructures turn out to be arbiters of marginalization, domination, and discrimination. Some of these photos have appeared on a collaborative blog documenting accessible and inaccessible entryways in the city of Petrozavodsk, Russia. Some images are examples of what I call check-‐‐mark ramps -‐‐ objects that look like ramps, but don't "work," i.e. that don't actually facilitate access for people with mobility impairments. Images of such "failed" ramps have circulated as an internet meme, but their ubiquity elides the fact that there are far more places that simply lack the elements of accessible architecture altogether. This photo essay is related to the ongoing digital installation project DYTLI, based on the same ethnographic research.
Violencia a flor de Piel - Mental Health as a Landscape of Violence
(2015-02-19) Figueroa, Chantal
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.