Erasure And Desocialization Analysis

1798 Words 8 Pages
Since the era of colonization, oppressors would attempt to stifle descent by either completely wiping out or altering the history and experiences of the colonized. As a result, a curtain of collective indifference was created that effectively rendered certain groups of people as invisible, and deemed their experiences and suffering as irrelevant. The Romans referred to this tactic of structural violence as domnatio memoriae or “condemnation of memory”. In modern-day terminology, medical anthropologist Paul Farmer refers to this tactic, in his essay “An Anthropology of Structural Violence”, as “erasure or distortion of history [that] is part of the process of desocialization necessary for the emergence of hegemonic accounts of what happened …show more content…
Without a “story” the bones in the pit are considered irrelevant, and that is precisely the type of erasure Alejo fears after he is sprayed with pesticides and he begins to hallucinate. Alejo’s fear of dying and being completely forgotten – no one to remember his identity or contributions to bettering society – is a representation of the general fears of migrant workers impacted by erasure and desocialization. These fears exemplify how erasure also colonizes the minds of the oppressed such that they try to work harder so that they can be resocialized and treated as a true American citizen. Moreover, Viramontes deploys critical dialogue to further validate her argument that erasure inhabits the mindset of marginalized individuals who then become desocialized. In the previous example, Alejo sneaks into a field to steal some peaches and is subsequently sprayed with pesticides, which led to the following internal conversation: “Was this punishment for his thievery? He was sorry Lord, so sorry” (77). It seems that Alejo is internalizing a broad societal message that he is unworthy of basic human rights, as he blames himself for stealing even though it is the structural inequality that is the reason he cannot make enough money to avoid starvation in the first place. …show more content…
In terms of the dialogue between Petra and Perfecto when Alejo is in dire need of help, Petra pleads that “if we don’t take care of each other who would take care of us? We have to look out for our own” (96). This interaction exemplifies how the laborers are ignored by the wider society, which has led to their overall desocialization. Although, they are desocialized by distance as well, which is demonstrated by the little contact they have with the rest of society and by the amount of time it takes the family to take Alejo to a hospital. To the extent that the migrant farm workers share their stories and experiences only with each other, many American’s either do not understand or do not care about the plight of the laborers, which is effectively how they are desocialized and erased. In addition to desocialization, erasure also causes commodification of the body, which Professor of Medical Anthropology, Nancy Scheper-Hughes, defines as:
Encompassing all capitalized economic relations between humans in which human bodies are the token of economic exchanges that are often masked as something else – love, altruism, pleasure, kindness […] the commodity form [is] applied to the body under late capitalism and in the new global economy

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