Latina Battered Immigrants: Citizenship, Violence and Inequality
Roberta Villalon, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, St. John’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
My forthcoming book, Latina Battered Immigrants: Citizenship, Violence and Inequality (New York University Press), explores the process that Latina battered immigrants go through in order to become citizens of the United States under the Violence Against Women Act, and the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act. These legislations and the nonprofit organizations helping in their implementation have been crucial in providing relief for battered immigrants. However, barriers that filter immigrants as worthy to become legitimate members of the United States, or as illegitimate subjects remain in place. My case study of Latina survivors of domestic violence at a legal nonprofit organization in Texas shows how class, racial, ethnic and gender inequalities not only permeate the current legislation, but also are inadvertently reproduced by nonprofit workers. This results in the exclusion of the most destitute immigrants, regardless of their histories of abuse, who in principle are entitled to be protected by these laws and are the reason why such nonprofit organizations exist. The analysis of the interactions between battered immigrants and legal nonprofit workers uncovers the intricate ways in which selective ideals and disciplines beneath the construction of American citizenship are recreated on a daily basis beyond the direct intervention of state officials. In my book, I weave ethnographic accounts of battered Latina immigrants and nonprofit staff with theoretical debates on the state, citizenship, immigration, nonprofit organizations, gender violence, and social inequality, and also propose means to fight against the pervasiveness of discrimination.