Entre Nosotres: The Social and Political Spheres of Women Against Prisons

Savloff, Leyla. Entre Nosotres: The Social and Political Spheres of Women Against Prisons. Diss. U of Washington. 2019.

Abstract: For the past three decades, the number of incarcerated women in Latin America has increased exponentially. This dissertation examines how women in Buenos Aires, Argentina, reimagine their lives during and after prison. Although an expansion of civil rights and the increased visibility of gendered violence characterized the last decade in Argentina, prison conditions for women have deteriorated. Through collaborative ethnography with YoNoFui, a collective of formerly incarcerated women, this research reveals institutional violence as gendered and as always imbricated in larger structural forces that scrutinize women and expand the social control of their lives. One of the dissertation's central insights is that collective feminist identities emerge and sustain their work through interdependence. I assert that this interdependence unfolds not only at the level of people finding ways to support each other's journeys but also at a broader scale, as collectives rely on other organizations and individuals to sustain their political work. I further argue that by emphasizing interdependence, contemporary feminist social movements in Argentina uphold self-determinacy as one of their central tenets. I draw from decolonial feminist theories of the state to make a case for the significance of women's cultural productions as they grapple with the effects of incarceration. My work draws from the term entre nosotras (among us), introduced by sociologist Raquel GutieĢrrez Aguilar to stress how contemporary feminist political power in Latin America foregrounds the potential of renewed forms of interdependence that break away from social relationships of exploitation. Through poetry, photography, and activism, this multimodal ethnography informs the broader framework of the feminismos populares that have been brewing in Latin America in the past decade to identify the specific ways in which grassroots collectives like YoNoFui contest the oppression engendered by the carceral state. By tracing the lives of women moving through various stages and spaces of incarceration, this dissertation offers an ethnography of feminismos populares up against the carceral state.

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