Today’s post was written by library student ambassador Veronica Urubio.
Dr. Nina Maria Lozano’s Faculty Pub Night started off with our host Rhonda Rosen introducing the recently published Not One More!: Feminicido on the Border, which you can find as an ebook and physical copy in the library catalog.
Several highlights from this October Faculty Pub Night include how the term “feminicidio” was coined (i.e. to have the gender-specific label), the rhetoric that played a role in suppressing activist groups that consist mainly of mothers—of family—, and how beautification through murals became a tool to humanize the women who were victims of poor policing, corrupt governments, and their murderers, who remain at large. Her work critiques new materialism’s focus on objects and things, as having agentic property that is constitutive of other meanings when looking at gendered objects. She spoke about how materiality and lived experiences are what frames the juxtaposition between objects and women, offering scholars and audiences of all kinds a theoretical lens to how objects and matter are rooted in these stories: materiality must go hand-in-hand with the rhetoric to be both seen and give a voice to the voiceless.
Government silencing is not a new tactic to suppress protests, much less motherist activism in this case. In countering methods utilized by officials that have included murals that put no emphasis on the humanity and lived experiences of the women and asserting that the activists are doing nothing more than stirring a false rumor, the mothers disrupt this false, single-narrative through gathering at sites for collective memory and protest, murals and painted crosses that have been publicly displayed to raise awareness that play on the collective imagination of public memory to put pressure, and, most importantly, exert that this is real—that this is happening and that there are measures that need to be taken as to prevent future deaths.
A takeaway that has cemented itself in my psyche and had a drastic effect on me was when Lozano shared an example of how her activist work in Juarez emphasized being present in solidarity. The idea of boycotting the manquillas who refused to put in safety measures for these women—their employees—was shut down because boycotting the jobs that are necessary for those on the ground would be detrimental for them in their delicate situation, but other ways to protest for safety were found that avoided this pitfall through collaboration with those this affects directly. You cannot fix something without having knowledge of the subject from the people who are most affected. By immersing one’s self into the community, understanding their conditions, and following their lead, trust and communication can be built between allies protesting for acknowledgement and a solution. Organization is important in changing the rhetoric and cultural normalcies in order to put pressure on systems that allow for state-sanctioned violence to continue. One must look at the sociopolitical context and actively listen to those who have more knowledge on the subject—who have more to lose—before acting on their behalf.
Yes, these women were daughters, mothers, friends, wives, and sisters—but they were more than what they were to those still living: they were human with their own individualization and experiences and thoughts and memories, too, and that’s what was emphasized. In the words of Dr. Lozano herself, “I can never stop talking and arguing that there is a femicide and that this is real.”
These voices matter. These lives mattered.