Living Behind Symbolic and Concrete Barriers of Total Institutions: Reflections on the Transition Between a Domestic Symbolic Patriarchal Imprisonment and a Co-Governed, State-Sponsored Incarceration in Perú
This article seeks to analyse the paradox of freedom and imprisonment, reflecting on the connections between and nuances of intimate partner violence and abuse (IPVA) and women’s imprisonment in the Global South, particularly in Perú. The story follows Maria, a woman serving a 14-year sentence for the homicide of her husband, an act she committed after experiencing 20 years of psychological and physical abuse. I have chosen to focus on her ambivalence towards her experience of IPVA, using Goffman’s (1961) concept of the ‘total institution’; I suggest that Maria was living under a patriarchal and symbolic total institution, a prison-like home (Avni 1991). Following this, while imprisoned for the homicide of her husband, Maria was physically incapacitated in a co-governed, patriarchal, nation-state prison. Nevertheless, simultaneously, in this custodial setting, she found a semi-autonomous path to reinforce her sense of agency and to construct interpersonal relationships that have enabled her to question the preceding patriarchal norms.
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