Fictionalizing Juárez : feminicide, violence, and myth-making in the borderlands
In the early 1990s, a series of gruesome murders of young women in Ciudad Juárez, a city located in the U.S.-Mexico border, shook the political landscape of Mexico. A decade later, the strange and violent murders, known as the feminicides or feminicidios of Juárez, reached international infamy across hemispheres and continents. During this time, the city and the cases became the subjects of an extensive body of scholarship and of any imaginable artistic medium (narrative, poetry, theater, performance, music, and so on). Eventually, the complexity and overexposure of the cases and the sociopolitical conditions of Ciudad Juárez placed them at the center of a paradoxical debate: on one hand, the work of activists, feminists, and scholars of social sciences (like anthropologists and sociologists) studied the murders as a localized example of a larger phenomenon of mysoginistic violence; on the other, journalistic and media investigations of Juárez understood the murders as the products of specific agents (serial killers, murderers, drug cartels, amongst others) and the fractures within the Mexican Nation-State. And yet, despite the expansion and overlapping of these discourses, fictional representations of Juárez remained tangential to this intricate debate. Thus, this research explores the different ways in which writers, artists, and filmmakers deployed and negotiated existent perspectives on the feminicides within fictional environments. As a result of the vast amount of published work available on Ciudad Juárez, I narrowed the objects of my research through a transnational scope. The resulting sample of texts transverses borders (Mexico and the U.S.), continents (Latin America and Europe), genres (fiction and nonfiction), and mediums (literature and film). The first chapter explores the connections of Sergio González Rodríguez’s Huesos en el desierto and Roberto Bolaño’s 2666 through the theoretical framework of the possible worlds of fiction. The second chapter moves to issues of representation, gender, and race through the analysis of two novels written by Chicana scholars: Alicia Gaspar de Alba’s Desert Blood: The Juárez Murders and Stella Pope Duarte’s If I Die in Juárez. Finally, the third chapter focuses on film representations of Juárez and the feminicides in the form of Gregory Nava’s Bordertown and Carlos Carrera’s Backyard/El Traspatio.