What are the needed conditions for peace? A decade ago, I began to explore this question in El Salvador, a dominant mestizo society and site of skyrocketing violence. Based on ethnographic research with women relatives of males who are both purveyors of violence and peacemakers, I argue that from the 1992 Salvadoran Peace Accords that ended twelve years of civil war emerged a notion of negative peace, or end of armed conflict with the state, that views gender and racialized violence as low-grade, ongoing, parts of everyday life. In this talk, I discuss how women relatives of male gang members navigate excruciating politics of solidarity by both supporting and critiquing their relatives’ adaptation of the model of negative peace to their peacemaking practices. I suggest that the way to attain substantive peace is to proactively engage in intersectional justice to redress multiple and intersecting forms of violence. Without this attention, violence in El Salvador will continue to increase. That violence in turn will increase mass migration to the U.S. and a border crisis in which the U.S. government sees deportation of Latinx families and a U.S.-Central America transnational war on gangs as its solution to attain regional political stability.
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