Material Affects and The Everyday Work of Repair: Psychosocial Accompaniment with Women Survivors in Guatemala

Authors: Rebecca Patterson-Markowitz*, University of Arizona - Geography & Development
Topics: Cultural Geography, Latin America, Gender
Keywords: geographies of healing, feminist geographies, transitional justice, affect, Guatemala
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/14/2018
Start / End Time: 4:00 PM / 5:40 PM
Room: Bacchus, Marriott, River Tower Elevators, 4th Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The 2016 victory of Maya Q’eqchi’ women survivors in the Sepur Zarco trial on sexual slavery was a path breaking moment for actors demanding justice and reparations in post-conflict Guatemala. The victory was due in large part to the long-term efforts of a consortium of non-governmental actors that drawn on feminist and indigenous epistemologies to inform their psychosocial accompaniment strategies. This paper pulls from interviews with psychologists and community health workers engaged in the long-term processes leading up to the Sepur Zarco trial. Emerging from their descriptions, I call attention to the emotions and affects that circulate in the spaces and practices of their work. Focusing on how they conceive of the relationship between space, objects, and bodies, I argue that their use of feminist and indigenous epistemologies offers an important intervention into how we conceptualize “the every day work of repair” in addressing legacies of violence (Das 2007). I draw on the work of Sarah Ahmed (2004), Sunčana Laketa (2016), Yael Navaro-Yashin (2012) and Henderson (2009) among others in considering relationships between bodies and other bodies, and bodies and objects both for their ability to transmit traumatic affect, but also to produce healing.

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