A Cartography of Feminicide
in the Américas
I insist on being shocked. I am never going to become immune. I think
that’s a kind of failure, to see so much [human atrocity] that you die
inside. I want to be surprised and shocked every time.
—Toni Morrison, Toni Morrison Uncensored
We are driven to write this book by our shock and outrage at the ongo-
ing atrocities whose fissures and replication imperil our human commu-
nities. As Toni Morrison asserts, we insist on being shocked, refuse to
become immune to the large-scale violence that began in the 1990s and
that, as Arjun Appadurai (2006, 10) reminds us, ‘‘appear[s] to be typ-
ically accompanied by a surplus of rage and excess of hatred.’’ Our focus
in this book is on the low-intensity warfare waged on women’s bodies
that is now routine in many Latin American countries.
Prior to the brutality committed against women’s bodies during the
ethnic conflicts in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Rwanda, the international
community had been slow in recognizing the historical reality of war-
time violence against women, the fact that gender-based violence ‘‘is an
integral and pervasive component of warfare’’ (Moshan 1998, 1).∞
We are never going to become immune, so we name gender-based
violence as a weapon of terror. Since World War Two alone, the inci-
dents of rape during armed conflicts are shocking, from the German
Nazi soldiers’ raping Jewish and Soviet women to the raping of Viet-
namese women by U.S. soldiers and the sexual atrocities committed
against women during civil wars in Liberia and Sierra Leone.≤
There have been even more cases of horrendous, terrifying assaults
committed against women during counterinsurgency wars in Latin
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