The Gender-Based Violence Topic Interest Group is excited to start off the new year by highlighting two of our recent member publications. Both these publications aim to bring ethnographic research on Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) into conversation with issues that would be of interest to a wide range of scholars across the applied and medical anthropology fields. Both publications also consolidate and build on many of the rich conversations and collaborations forged through the GBV-TIG over the last decade.
Firstly, Dr. Allison Bloom, a former TIG chair, published her book, Violence Never Heals: The Lifelong Effects of Intimate Partner Violence for Immigrant Women with New York University Press as part of their “Anthropologies of American Medicine: Culture, Power, and Practice” series. The book asks what happens to survivors of IPV as they grow older and must confront the long-term effects of violence? Based on her many years as a researcher, practitioner, and educator in the IPV field and her ethnographic research at a crisis center, the book highlights gaps in service for survivors as they grow older and encounter more disabling conditions as the result of their experiences with violence. In particular, she highlights the experiences of immigrant survivors from Latin America living in the U.S., who face particularly difficult embodied experiences due to their precarious labor, family dynamics, and immigration status. As a result, their experiences with aging, chronic health issues, and IPV make for a disabling combination with often few options for their own long-term care. The book also offers best practices for practitioners, scholars, and students alike in order to address these gaps and better meet these needs.
Likewise, Dr. Karin Friederic, another former TIG chair, puts her expertise on IPV, human rights, and development work into conversation with scholarship around applied and activist anthropology in her recent book, The Prism of Human Rights: Seeking Justice amid Gender Violence in Rural Ecuador with Rutgers University Press. Her book examines what happens when women and families in rural, geographically isolated communities learn about and mobilize around human rights when policy implementation and social services remain largely inaccessible. Taking a long-term view over a span of twenty years, she provides a remarkably intimate view of how people are grappling with new ideas of gender, rights, and violence itself in order to assess what rights-based programs actually achieve over the long term in rural Latin America. Ultimately, Friederic demonstrates that rights-based interventions provide important, discursive openings for women seeking a life free of violence, but in the absence of concrete services, they also expose “liberated” women to more extreme dynamics of structural violence. This analysis of human rights in practice is essential for anyone seeking to promote justice in a culturally responsible manner.
Together, these books offer a range of perspectives for not only scholars of applied anthropology interested in issues around health and gender but make for excellent teaching tools for students as well as texts for practitioners. Bloom and Friederic both present a hands-on perspective that humanizes these experiences through ethnographic storytelling as well as pathways forward. Together, they speak to the importance of examining the embodied effects of violence and policy on survivors from both life-course and multi-generational perspectives.