Border threads : ethnographic tales of escape, agency, and violence in a shelter in Pakistan
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[ACCESS RESTRICTED TO THE UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI--COLUMBIA AT REQUEST OF AUTHOR.] This study highlights the theoretical usefulness of viewing domestic violence shelters through the conceptual framework of border-crossing and borders. Utilizing feminist ethnography as a research method to explore the socio-cultural aspects of a domestic violence shelter in Pakistan, it asks the following questions: How do survivors of domestic violence (women) reach the shelter? How does the shelter enable women who have suffered domestic abuse to engage in descriptions that counter outside efforts to silence them? How does shelter as a space of protection both enable social change and reproduce structures of domination? Based on ethnographic observations and interviews with 45 shelter residents, shelter staff, and feminist scholars, this study demonstrates that survivors of domestic violence, specifically women belonging to a lower socio-economic demographic, construct and expend heroic forms of agency in formulating specific escape trajectories and are in effect border-crossers. Importantly, it found that shelter residents re-construct themselves through narratives of violence made possible through temporary pockets of articulation. Absence of supportive socio-political and economic structures that may enable shelter residents to embark on emancipatory exit trajectories converts the agency utilized to escape violent homes into forms that are excessive.
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