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The Dialectics of Still Life: Murder, Women, and Maquiladoras

The Dialectics of Still Life: Murder, Women, and Maquiladoras Public Culture 11(3): 453–474 Copyright © 1999 by Duke University Press Public Culture The Dialectics of Still Life In this essay, I shall examine the image of the Mexican woman formed within these narratives with Walter Benjamin’s notion of a dialectical image.3 The dialectical image is one whose apparent stillness obscures the tensions that actually hold it in suspension. It is a caesura forged by clashing forces. With this dialectical image in mind, I see the Mexican woman depicted in the murder narratives as a life stilled by the discord of value pitted against waste. I focus on the narrative image of her, rather than on the lives of the murder victims, to reveal the intimate connection binding these stilled lives to the reproduction of value in the maquiladoras located in Ciudad Juárez. Through a comparison of a maquiladora narrative of categorical disavowal of responsibility for the violence with another maquila narrative explaining the mundane problem of labor turnover, the Mexican woman freezes as a subject stilled by the tensions linking the two tales. In the tale of turnover that is told by maquila administrators, the Mexican woman takes shape in the model of variable capital whose worth http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Public Culture Duke University Press

The Dialectics of Still Life: Murder, Women, and Maquiladoras

Public Culture , Volume 11 (3) – Oct 1, 1999

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Publisher
Duke University Press
Copyright
Copyright 1999 by Duke University Press
ISSN
0899-2363
eISSN
1527-8018
DOI
10.1215/08992363-11-3-453
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Public Culture 11(3): 453–474 Copyright © 1999 by Duke University Press Public Culture The Dialectics of Still Life In this essay, I shall examine the image of the Mexican woman formed within these narratives with Walter Benjamin’s notion of a dialectical image.3 The dialectical image is one whose apparent stillness obscures the tensions that actually hold it in suspension. It is a caesura forged by clashing forces. With this dialectical image in mind, I see the Mexican woman depicted in the murder narratives as a life stilled by the discord of value pitted against waste. I focus on the narrative image of her, rather than on the lives of the murder victims, to reveal the intimate connection binding these stilled lives to the reproduction of value in the maquiladoras located in Ciudad Juárez. Through a comparison of a maquiladora narrative of categorical disavowal of responsibility for the violence with another maquila narrative explaining the mundane problem of labor turnover, the Mexican woman freezes as a subject stilled by the tensions linking the two tales. In the tale of turnover that is told by maquila administrators, the Mexican woman takes shape in the model of variable capital whose worth

Journal

Public CultureDuke University Press

Published: Oct 1, 1999

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