Beds and Tables: Ordinary Violence in Rascón Banda’s Hotel Juárez

Debra Castillo

Hotels make for great theatre. They are quintessentially modern (this is especially true of motels, by way of their association with automobiles); they allow for unexpected encounters and mysterious retreats—a clichéd feature of practically every spy drama and tale of illicit sex we can remember; they combine public (lobby, bar, dining room) with private (guest rooms) spaces in felicitous combinations. They are so effective as a symbolically resonant fictional setting, perhaps, because in the outside world they serve as a paramount instance of the “heterotopia,” a term coined by Michel Foucault to describe a constellation of social organizations that vibrate between two states in highly productive ways. Says the French theorist, “I am interested in certain [sites] that have the curious property of being in relation with all the other sites, but in such a way as to suspect, neutralize, or invert the set of relations that they happen to designate, mirror, or reflect.” He defines heterotopias as both specific sites and non-places, and says they are “capable of juxtaposing in a single real place several spaces, several sites that are in themselves incompatible.”1 Examples he references include honeymoon hotels (and motels in general), ships, cemeteries, libraries, barracks, prisons, brothels, and—at his most expansive—colonies.

The list is telling; each case wrenches apart a concept of private spaces and forcefully links it to public exposure in a kind of fantasy of openness and containment. Likewise, chillingly, these various, seemingly unrelated heterotopias have a strong, if underexplored, relation to each other, allowing us to see the continuities between, for instance, a prison, a hotel, and a brothel. Foucault continues: “Heterotopias always presuppose a system of opening and closing that both isolates them and makes them penetrable.”2 Containment and access—at the same time—are central, and likewise central is the question of who gets to go through the open doors, who is closed behind them, and who has the key. This is certainly the case in Víctor Hugo Rascón Banda’s play Hotel Juárez (2003), where the hotel-brothel-prison-cemetery analogy can also be understood in the context of the play as a roughly chronological sequence, an iteration of a series of entries followed by containment within increasingly small enclosed spaces. 3

Unsurprisingly, there is a long history of creative writers who use hotels as the site for stories, plotting encounters that are facilitated by the uncanny/unhomely space of “hospitality.” The twist in the hospitality business turns on the guest’s entry into a studied simulacrum of the home that almost immediately turns strange, a familiar-alien space that is also and at the same time structured as an imagined microcosm of community and of family. Thus, ideally, the hotel space is a shared semi-public location—the home away from home—in which contacts with a particular community of travelers are stripped down to a series of orchestrated encounters in a contained space. Of course, the art resides in confounding mundane expectations for an experience that is both boring (homelike, repeatable) and exciting (the encounter with difference).

Literary examples are easy to find: the hotel is fundamental to shaping the encounters in films as disparate as Terry George’s 2004 Hotel Rwanda and Wes Anderson’s 2014 Grand Budapest Hotel (the first based on the true story of Paul Rusesabagina; the second on Stefan Zweig’s fanciful fiction). D. M. Thomas’s 1981 novel The White Hotel has acquired an almost comic history of love affairs with big-name directors who have promised to bring it to the silver screen.4 Closer to the Hispanist orbit, Cuban American Cristina García sets her 2010 novel, Lady Matador’s Hotel, in a luxury Central American hotel to order to explore the intersection of unlikely characters in the midst of political turmoil; for her part, Puerto Rican Mayra Santos-Febres, in her 2010 Cualquier Miércoles Soy Yuya (I’m Yours any Wednesday),5 uses a Caribbean motel as the site for her unfolding mystery. I have, with the theatre group Teatrotaller, made an incursion into this genre as well, when we produced Marco Antonio de la Parra’s acerbic comic-book/Shakespeare parody/social commentary set in a run-down hotel in a squalid, nameless Latin American country, King Kong Palace, on Shakespeare’s birthday at the Willard Straight Hall Theatre, in 2014.

The hotel is homely (i.e., it recuperates the modern idea of the home, and especially the bedroom, as an exclusive, private space), and unhomely (always generic, always at the threshold of the public space, far too multiple, and too easily breached) at the same time. It cannot surprise us that “hospital,” “hostage,” and “hotel” all come from the same root: the Greek verb εστιάω, estiao (to receive/welcome somebody in my house; to prepare a meal for somebody). Following this impeccable logic of etymology, for dramatic purposes welcoming someone to our house becomes kidnapping, and preparing a meal means poisoning the guest; conversely, travelers are migrants or terrorists invading a foreign space, our home space. Heterotopia plays on this instability, something enhanced, by the border condition itself, as Víctor Hugo Rascón Banda notes: “el teatro es acción y conflicto. La frontera es conflicto en acción” (“theatre is action and conflict. The border is conflict in action”).6 From hostile hospitality, by a parallel permutation of terms and images in his Hotel Juárez, violence invades the home; bedrooms become containers and beds become biers; dining room tables become operating tables, as well as sites for table dances.

The drama of the US-Mexican border was nowhere so apparent in recent years as that played out between El Paso and Ciudad Juárez; where the US city has year after year confirmed its status as the safest city in the USA, while just across the bridge, in Ciudad Juárez, until recently the Juárez and Sinaloa drug cartels were involved in a deadly conflict over territory, reaching its height between 2009-2012, and resulting, for example, in 3,622 homicides in 2010 in this city of one million people, the worst of several very bad years.7 Yet it is not this general context of lawlessness that has provoked the most international attention to this border city, but rather the phenomenon of feminicides, the explicit topic of Rascón Banda’s play: the ritual, serial killing of women—mostly young, poor, maquiladora workers with long hair—that made Ciudad Juárez a focus of activism, academic study, and artistic production since the turn of the millennium, famously including projects like Lourdes Portillo’s controversial documentary, Señorita extraviada (2003), and ranging from a horrific section of Roberto Bolaño’s posthumous novel 2666 (2004) to the FX series The Bridge (2013). Between 1993–2003, approximately 340 young women were murdered, and many more disappeared in that city, at which time Sergio González Rodríguez, Esther Chávez Cano, and others began to speak out against the horrifying discoveries of young women’s bodies in the desert, showing signs of sexual torture and mutilation. Mexican authorities were slow to investigate these murders, even when the feminicides reached a high of 304 in the year 2010 alone, prompting charges of coverups and selective impunity when so-called “disposable” people were the victims of violence. To this day no one can confidently confirm the exact number of feminicides, as most of the murders remain uninvestigated and much of the original evidence has disappeared.8

Rascón Banda, in Hotel Juárez, his last published play before his death in 2008, takes on this soup of hidden violence, rumor, and misdirection, metaphorizing all of Ciudad Juárez as a hotel in which victims and perpetrators are forced into close contact. Like his earlier 2000 play, La Mujer que Cayó del Cielo (Woman who Fell from the Sky), in this play as well he mixes documentary material with his own creative elaborations, to produce a hybrid docu-fiction denouncing official foot-dragging and supporting grassroots struggles for justice. Thus, Rascón Banda’s play continually negotiates between the competing discourses of the “real” and the “fictional,” as it also takes on the challenge of revealing the underpinnings of two melodramatic styles: that of grassroots denunciation and that of state-sponsored rhetoric, contextualizing both of them as spectacle, and hence best subject to representation and deconstruction through the dramatic medium.

The first word in the play, the query from the hotel clerk, “¿Vacaciones?” (“Vacation?”),9 sets up a scene of ordinary exchange in the banal hotel setting. Ángela, who has come from Kansas in search of her missing sister Vanesa, decides on an indeterminate stay. By the last scene, Ángela and magician/stripper Ramsés are discovered in bed together, then arrested and killed in the crossfire between a corrupt cop and Johny [sic.], a local pimp, colluder in the snuff porn business, and sole survivor of the shootout.10 In between the lobby and guest room settings of the opening and closing scenes, the audience eavesdrops on conversations that evoke a series of other spaces in the hotel, some public, some ostensibly private, some forbidden, and occluded. At the first level, then, the play moves between ordinariness and an extraordinary violation, between public and presumed private interactions, between the aleatory movement of a vacationer and the driven narrative of the amateur detective. For Sarah Misemer, speaking at a more abstract level, Hotel Juárez operates as a microcosm of the state. The play, in this respect, dramatizes the “clash between universal human rights and those rights that are the domain of the nation state,” in a peripheral location where violence defines the limits of citizenship and the shape of an emergent, profoundly abject identity.11

The structurally shared conceptual space of the hotel and the prison as heterotopias reminds us that the projected ordinariness of the hotel necessarily struggles against the histories of invisibilized violence within its walls, and within other walls where the warehousing of human beings entails surveillance rather than privacy, and where all the locks are on the wrong side of the doors. Coming at the same conflation from another perspective, Jenna Loyd, Andrew Burridge, and Matthew Mitchelson study the language of for-profit detention facility proposals in the USA—captured by the euphemism “bed development”—concluding that “the discourse of bedspace powerfully communicates that the prison, for all intents and purposes, works like a motel—a collection of beds in bedrooms.”12 Here the heritage of that root verb bringing together hostility and hospitality is very much in evidence: there is no comfort to be found in these hotel-prisons, and negligible access to justice.

This condition is not limited to Juárez, or the US border area. Joseph Pugliese, for instance, addresses the way that shipping containers and hotel rooms converge as civil technologies for immigrant transport and control in Australia, focusing on the way the space of commerce inflects the language of home. Across the globe, dilapidated motels extend detention/refugee center “bedspaces” and serve as loci of containment and spaces of harm. In this respect, Pugliese analyzes the use of ordinary-looking motels and demountable buildings as detention facilities in Australia, writing:

I have spent some time analysing this image of a suburban Australian motel in terms of its ordinariness as, in what follows, I want both to underscore this ordinariness and to problematise it. This double movement will be enabled by my positioning of this motel within violent relations of power that fundamentally belie this ordinariness, even as they draw on it in order to efface the very exercise of violence that transpired in one of the rooms of this motel.13

The specific cases to which he refers concern asylum seekers who become mentally ill in detention, and who are returned to custody, and isolation, thus worsening their conditions. In one particular instance, a Kurdish man too ill to be returned to detention was locked for months on end in a hotel room he was not allowed to exit, even for a few minutes.14 Pugliese’s story happens to take place in Australia, but similar stories of detainees being driven to severe depression and suicide have long been unhappily familiar from many locations in the USA, and, with the current refugee crisis, Europe.

Rascón Banda, in Hotel Juárez, very succinctly brings together the three spaces of hotel, prison, and container in the haunting image of the mysterious packages being prepared for sale in Rotterdam that becomes the central repeating image in the play.15 The mystery surrounding these packages anchors the playwright’s denunciation of the disappearance of hundreds of young women in Juárez, and he solves the question by uncovering murderous trafficking in the traces left by these murdered bodies in the form of hugely profitable snuff films. Economically, the hotel in this play serves as a supposed refuge for migrants from other parts of Mexico who hope to cross the border into the United States, and who will thereupon disappear from the Mexican body politic into a competing labor pool. In this play, however, a distinct, gendered economy is at play. The men will head north, although some of them, as we and Rascón Banda know well, also “disappear” in the desert, or will be murdered by narcos after having served their purpose as drug mules. The young women are siphoned off from this group, lured into prostitution, or invited to work as movie actors, then locked into hidden bedrooms where they are raped and murdered for snuff films.16

Bedspace in this play is prison space, porn movie set, operating table, bier. The body sleeps, performs, dies, and is dismembered. Here, as is generally true in other Rascón Banda plays with a documentary edge, the metaphorical condensation of the larger social reality into the theatrical hotel paradoxically serves as an amplifier of intuited, underreported connections. The two by-products of this industry—porn films and dismembered bodies—are differentially disposed of and shipped out of the hotel in containers/packages of different sorts to different locations: the commercial markets in Europe, the desert trash heaps on the outskirts of Juárez. One might want to argue that the meaning of table, of bed, of package has been perverted, except that, in the unimpeachable logic of Rascón Banda’s play, we are meant to see that transnational economic and geopolitical realities conspire to make these interpretations and repurposings absolutely normative and even revelatory.

“No aceptamos putas,” the hotel manager preemptively warns Ángela (“We don’t accept whores”).17 Except, of course, that they do, only under the table, as it were. Hotel Juárez reflects a highly stratified society, one that we hear about in the course of the play but, crucially, cannot fully apprehend. This is only partly due to the theatrical constraints as opposed to, for example, filmic depictions of hotels. The economics of production for small plays like this one mean only a limited number of sets will be constructed. More important, though, is the constant evocation of spaces that we will not see, and the allusion, in stories by Ramsés, or by striking maquiladora worker, Lupe (who gives Ángela crucial insight into her sister’s life in the Taiwanese-owned plant), to a wider cast that we will never meet. The theatrical obligation to imagine this mostly invisible space faithfully evokes the hidden nature of social inequalities, which everyone in the play knows exists and knows contributes to profuse criminality, but which are exceptionally hard to locate or visualize since so many floors are inaccessible and so many doors are locked.

The putas are on the sixth floor, the top floor by the way, along with retired teachers (an interesting juxtaposition), a World War II veteran, a small-time drug dealer, and assorted family members looking for their lost children. The third floor, we learn, is full of would-be migrants along with black market smugglers of stolen goods and pirated videos. These objects constitute the other set of packages going in and out of the country, the exchange of labor for Hollywood movies and second-hand clothes. The second floor houses the politicians, the big-time narcos, the cattlemen, and the bullfighters—the constellation of power and murderous intent. The first floor, of course, comprises the lobby and the bar. Snuff films are made in the cellar, thus locating the sex industry’s victims at the highest and lowest levels of the hotel’s imaginary infrastructure. Rascón Banda never tells us who occupies the fourth and fifth floors—presumably they are reserved for vacationers and outsiders like Ángela. In any case, while the analogy is not exact, the intent of Rascón Banda’s multistoried hotel seems to echo to some extent the kind of social hierarchy framed by writers like José Luis González by way of a metaphorical house in his 1980 País de Cuatro Pisos (Four-Storeyed Country).

Of the twenty scenes in the play, only one is set in an abstract space outside the hotel proper (scene 19, “Las Tres Cruces,” (“The Three Crosses”), a poetic evocation of the burial ground for the disappeared women in which the ghost of one of the missing women, Vanesa, speaks to Ángela), and only one has an exterior view of any sort (Ramsés’ meditation on the view of nighttime Juárez from the balcony in scene 10). The rest of the scenes are claustrophobically both internal and inward looking, as if from the inside of a container. One scene, the murder of Rosalba by the police chief making the snuff film, takes place in the cellar; two take place in the lobby; two in the bar, including the crucial interview with the Egyptian; three occur in the hallways or outside of rooms; two in the licenciado’s room and one in the police chief’s; one each takes place in Lupe’s and Ramsés’ rooms. The rest of the play, and with increasing emphasis towards the end, takes place in Ángela’s room (scenes 5, 13, 16, 18, 20).

Drawn from historical record, the interview with the Egyptian—his real name, Abdul Latif Sharif Sharif, is not mentioned in the play—occurs at the halfway point of the drama, and reviews his claims of innocence, arguing that he is the scapegoat for other, richer, more powerful men. In the play, this interview is projected on the bar’s television screen, right after the bartender switches channels away from a Tin-Tan movie, and the text is drawn from documentary records of interviews with the actual accused serial murderer. It is unclear if anyone in the bar is meant to pay attention to the interview; the two groups, composed of Ángela, Ramsés, and Lupe on the one hand, and the manager, Johny, and Rosalba on the other, would each have different investments in the ongoing reporting. For the first group, the Egyptian’s words—if they attended to them—may have signaled hope that the authorities have successfully concluded their investigation and captured the notorious serial killer; for the manager and Johny, the media attention on the accused killer deflects attention from their ongoing activities, and their plans for Rosalba. The scene ends with reference to Aurora, Ángela’s missing sister, just one more disappearance among many, and serves as a premonition and warning for Rosalba, who clearly does not get the point that in the media frenzy and the official hand-waving, the problem of the continuing violence has gone unresolved, and that she herself has been targeted as the next victim. “Un chivo expiatorio. Eso soy,” the Egyptian says at the beginning of the interview, and he repeats this point later, for emphasis (“A scapegoat. That’s what I am).18

The story as the Egyptian tells it, still from his prison cell, is murky, but the direction of his accusation is clear, pointing to well-connected bar owner Alejandro Máynez. Máynez is in fact one of the few real names mentioned in the play. An accused serial killer associated with the Juárez feminicides, he has been fugitive for many years, and is the presumed author of the 1995 manuscript El diario de Richie (Richie’s Diary), which offers gruesome details about dozens of the Juárez murders, linking them to organized crime and the production of snuff films.19 That Máynez is identified as a bar owner and murderer of maquiladora women, in the bar setting, is surely not coincidental. The hotel bar is haunted by the image of those other bars, where prostitutes ply their trade, where maquiladora workers come on their day off to drink margaritas, where men hunt women, where tables are props for sexual activity and metaphors for infamous table dances.

If I were producing the play, I would make sure that neither of the two groups in the bar, nor the bartender, paid the least attention to this filmed interview, if only because the actual workings of “civil death” (Lisa Marie Cacho’s term) 20 or “precarious lives” (Judith Butler) 21 preclude alliances among groups of people already discursively and politically isolated from each other and from the range of protections that we naively presume fall under the category of human rights. As Cacho has argued, organizing on behalf of these marginalized and oppressed groups has often been liable to have the unintended opposite effect; to echo her book’s subtitle (Racialized Rightlessness and the Criminalization of the Unprotected). For Butler, mourning and violence are linked to the hierarchical category of grievability; some lives, she argues, always the most precarious and unprotected lives, are simply not seen as worthy of attention or grief in the mainstream’s eyes. These lives, and deaths would include those of the hundreds of feminicides in Juárez and elsewhere in the world, where the poisonous combination of sex and death are part of a quotidian economy. As Pugliese argues, in a parallel case, “What is particularly intolerable about this vernacular violence is that it destroys the hope that there might be the possibility to occupy another space—the civic—that is not generative of trauma and violence.”22

The second key scene, from the perspective of a discussion of trafficking, is scene 15, “En la Bodega,” (“In the Cellar”) in which Rosalba is lured by Johny’s promise of a role in the movies, a role she plays against her will and with profound irony as the comandante orders her to strip, then binds her, tortures her, kills her, and rapes her as she is dying. Her shocking death, ticked out over minutes and in full view of the audience to the play, serves that audience in the theatre in the same respect as the snuff film will serve the audience in Rotterdam. It is something we consented to and purchased with our ticket, expecting a combination of horror and pleasure, mitigated by our self righteous belief in our social conscience. Both real and unreal, the scene of torture is also one of sexual titillation and implicates us in the unsettling biopolitical question that Jacques Derrida calls “the unstable limit between ‘making-die’ and ‘letting-die’.”23 Moreover, it is a scene of “making die” anchored precisely on the fault line of an unstable geopolitical border, that of “conflicto en acción” (“conflict in action”) with a necrological twist.

“Así es el bisnes,” Johny tells Ángela when trying to convince her to make a porn film, presumably after slipping her a date-rape drug during a conversation in the bar (“It’s just business”).24 She declines, unlike Rosalba, but Johny is not about to take no for an answer. The business model that involves Johny, the comandante, and their unwitting victims is unexpectedly close to the way contemporary businessmen describe their relation to the US-based model of globalization—which consists in coming into a country “to fuck you over.”25 R.W Connell and Julian Wood’s ethnographic study of transnational business masculinity—really, a kind of hypermasculinity—considers the personality required for the movers and shakers in global capitalism, capturing the aggressive style of their language and its affects and effects. These men (and a very few women) reconstruct the managerial class as defined by the deployment of an overt use of power, along with the ability to withstand power plays by others. Connell’s transnational businessmen reject the “dusty old banker” image in favor of a “hollowing out” of the business executive, who recognizes no deeper rationale than the bottom line, indeed, no rationale at all except for the pursuit of profit. Thus, he finds, transnational business masculinity is characterized by social conservatism, compulsory heterosexuality, emotional distantiation from women and a “commercialization of feeling.”26 Loyalty is conditional, women are commodified, and there is no expression of care for others except as publicity. The cruelty and violence displayed in Rascón Banda’s characters, in this sense, is less a hyperbolic projection of a late capitalist idea taken to the extreme, than a realistic uncovering of the ordinary cruelties of contemporary business practice.

Ramsés intervenes between Johny’s “bisnes” and Ángela’s potential participation in it, postponing her/their death. Yet Ramsés’ timely, and unlikely, interference in Johny’s “bisnes” reminds us of all the people who do not intercede on Ángela’s behalf: the bartender, the other patrons in the bar, who are at best indifferent, at worst complicit in the serial murders that occur under their noses. Pugliese makes a point of uncovering the workings of this kind of pervasive silence: “Unlike the immigration officials, prison guards and police who are in direct government employ, the hotel manager, clerks and cleaners operate under the guise that they are free agents whose civilian hands are clean of violence. In other words, they are marked by a disavowal of their own investment in economies of violence that cut across seemingly discrete categories, sites and subjects.”27 Making-die is Johny’s business, as is the lucrative exchange in human and drug packages going north to the USA for labor and consumption, or, in the form of videotapes, east for sale to the porn market in Europe. At the same time, Rascón Banda implicates us all in the broader implications of letting-die, the plausible deniability that is the exclusive province of the privileged, those of us exempt from the terrors of civic death and the fears of an unvalued life.

Así es el bisnes, indeed.

Notes

  1. Michel Foucault, “Of Other Spaces,” trans. Jay Miskowiec, Diacritics 16 no. 1 (1986): 24-25.
  2. Ibid., 26.
  3. Víctor Hugo Rascón Banda (1948-2008) was a Mexican lawyer and playwright famous for his attention to social justice in his work, which often has a documentary edge.  He is the author of two dozen plays, as well as poetry and narrative fiction, and the winner of many national awards.  In many of his works, as is true in Hotel Juárez, he draws inspiration from the northern Mexico border area and his home state of Chihuahua.
  4.  In an article entitled “Celluloid Dreams,” D. M. Thomas cites negotiations involving Barbra Streisand and Keith Barish, Bobby Geisler and John Roberdeau, Terrance Malick, Bernardo Bertolucci, Chuck Mee, Meryl Streep, David Lynch and Isabella Rossellini, Hector Babenco, Emir Kusturica, Pedro Almodóvar, David Cronenberg, along with innumerable scriptwriters, lawyers, and actors. D.M. Thomas, “Celuloid Dreams,” The Guardian, August 27, 2004, accessed April 29, 2016, http://www.theguardian.com/film/2004/aug/28/books.featuresreviews.
  5.  All translations in this article are mine.
  6.  Cited in Sarah Misemer, “Stages of Transit: Rascón Banda’s Hotel Juárez and Perveroni’s Berlín,” in Imagining Human Rights in Twenty-first Century Theatre, eds. Florian N. Becker, Paola S. Hernández, and Brenda Werth (New York: Palgrave, 2013), 137.
  7.  This number comes from El diario de Juárez, citing the Chihuahua state statistics. (“Juarez May Murder Toll: 74..Lowest in 49 Months,” Frontera List, June 1, 2012, accessed April 29, 2016, https://fronteralist.org/tag/chihuahua.)
  8. While a spotlight has been cast on Ciudad Juárez, probably in great part due to its proximity to the USA, it is worth remembering that (1) the feminicide rate in Juárez is lower than the USA, and (2) the Mexican government’s lag in prosecution of these murders is not unusual in the country as a whole, where, for example, of 3,892 feminicides registered nationally between 2012–2013, only 24% were investigated, and 1.6% lead to sentencing. See Brooke Binkowski, “Mexico’s Epidemic of Missing and Murdered Women,” The Globe and Mail, July 13, 2015, accessed April 29, 2016, http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/mexicos-epidemic-of-missing-and-murdered-women/article25137141.
  9. Víctor Hugo Rascón Banda, “Hotel Juárez,” in Hotel Juárez: Dramaturgía de feminicidios, ed. Enrique Mijares, Teatro de la frontera 22/23 (2008): 233.
  10.  Ibid., 273.
  11. Misemer, “Stages of Transit,” 141.
  12.  Jenna Loyd, Andrew Burridge, and Matthew Mitchelson, “Thinking (and Moving) Beyond Walls And Cages: Bridging Immigrant Justice and Anti-Prison Organizing In the United States,” Social Justice 36, no. 2 (2009/2010): 91. They add: “But you must ask prisoners themselves to hear about how bedspace (if they have it) is not like a motel’s pillow-top mattress, and how bedspace does not replace their bed back home (if they have one) and how bedspace does not replace their bed back home (if they have one). Here, as elsewhere, millions of imprisoned voices have been increasingly silenced during the penal state’s ascent.” (Ibid.)
  13. Joseph Pugliese, “Civil Modalities of Refugee Trauma, Death, and Necrological Transport,” Social Identities 15, no. 1 (2009): 149.
  14.  Ibid., 153.
  15. Banda, Hotel Juárez, 257-8, 260.
  16. These alternatives are all among those suggested by González Rodríguez, among others, as motives for the murders. Other proposed perpetrators include organ traffickers, organized (or disorganized) gangs, rich kids out for fun, sex offenders from across the border taking advantage of laxer enforcement in Mexico, etc.
  17. Banda, Hotel Juárez, 234.
  18. Ibid., 252, 253.
  19. See Santiago Gallur Santorum, “El feminicidio en Ciudad Juárez: atando cabos,” Contralínea, October 10, 2010, accessed April 29, 2016. http://contralinea.info/archivo-revista/index.php/2010/10/10/el-feminicidio-en-ciudad-juarez-atando-cabos.
  20. Lisa Marie Cacho,  Social Death:  Racialized Rightlessness and the Criminalization of the Unprotected. New York:  NYU Press, 2013.
  21. Judith Butler,  Precarious Life: The Powers of Mourning and Violence (New York: Verso, 2006.)
  22. Pugliese, “Civic Modalities,” 156.
  23. Jacques Derrida and Elisabeth Roudinesco, For what tomorrow . . . A Dialogue (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2004), 90.
  24. Banda, Hotel Juárez, 248.
  25.  See R. W. Connell and Julian Wood, “Globalization and Business Masculinities,” Men and Masculinities 7, no. 4 (2005): 358.
  26.  Ibid., 348, 356.
  27.  Pugliese, “Civil Modalities,” 195.
Debra Castillo

Debra Castillo

Debra A. Castillo is Stephen H. Weiss Presidential Fellow, Emerson Hinchliff Professor of Hispanic Studies, and Professor of Comparative Literature at Cornell University. She is past president of the international Latin American Studies Association. She specializes in contemporary narrative from the Spanish-speaking world (including the United States), gender studies, comparative border studies, and cultural theory. Her most recent books are Cartographies of Affect: Across Borders in South Asia and the Americas (with Kavita Panjabi), Hybrid Storyspaces (with Christine Henseler), Mexican Public Intellectuals (with Stuart Day), and Despite all Adversities: Spanish American Queer Cinema (with Andrés Lema Hincapié).