Department of Spanish and Portuguese
Department of Spanish and Portuguese

Book on Gender Violence Co-edited by Professor Domínguez-Ruvalcaba

Sun, July 18, 2010
Book Cover
Book Cover

In a year that has pushed the complexity of the U.S.-Mexico Border region to the forefront of the national political discourse, a new book co-edited by professors Héctor Domínguez-Ruvalcaba (UT Austin) and Ignacio Corona (The Ohio State University) will help articulate the roles that place, gender, ethnicity and media representations have played in the increasingly violent border region.

Gender Violence at the U.S.-Mexico Border: Media Representation and Public Response (The University of Arizona Press, 2010) is a volume that brings together scholars across disciplines and from different research institutions; among them, Debra Castillo (Cornell University), Patricia Ravelo (Centro de Investigaciones y Estudios Superiores en Antropología Social), María Tabuenca Córdoba (Colegio de la Frontera, Ciudad Juárez and The University of Texas at El Paso), and Miguel López-Lozano (The University of New Mexico). The co-editors of the book take as their point of departure the notion that only through an interdisciplinary exchange of ideas can this type of violence be understood. For this reason their chapters analyze a wide range of texts from oral narratives to newspaper reports to films and novels to legal discourse with a geographic focus on the contact zone between the United States and Mexico.

“We need to study gender violence in order to understand the perplexity that often results from horrific events,” explains Domínguez-Ruvalcaba, a faculty member in our department. According to him, “something in the ethical, aesthetic and cognitive order has been broken and we need to analyze how we describe the conditions that generate the lamentable deaths along the border as well as revise the different interpretations that have been formed.”

 In addition to expanding on Domínguez-Ruvalcaba’s analysis of masculinity in contemporary Mexican culture, Modernity and the Nation in Mexican Representations of Masculinity (Palgrave, 2007), this collection of essays takes on such thorny issues as systemic, symbolic and gender based violence. The work does not propose a set of ready-made solutions for the border region, but rather offers a multifaceted analysis of the current state of affairs, taking a critical look at the role of the scholar in social and political activism and attempting to intervene in the politics of representation of violence.

“First of all the role of the scholar is to investigate and to educate,” remarks Domínguez-Ruvalcaba, “Our profession can become activism when it is concerned with social problems, influencing the formation of professionals engaged in their surroundings, an awareness that became more prominent in academia after 9/11.”

As the editors underscore in the introduction, in this book violence is studied as a cultural issue rather than a set of isolated criminal acts, an analytical strategy that allows them to concentrate on destructive practices that have become systematized and symbolized. Domínguez-Ruvalcaba comments, “This is why it is of prime importance that we carry out an analysis of these systems of destruction as a condition to formulate educative programs, public policy and community interventions.” 

As marked by Mexican President Felipe Calderón’s first official visit to Washington D.C. in May 2010, the multifaceted violence of U.S.-Mexico border region will certainly continue to be an important topic in the coming years.

Professor Domínguez-Rubalcava is available to discuss his book or issues related to gender violence at

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