Exiled Home: Salvadoran Transnational Youth in the Aftermath of Violence
Susan Bibler Coutin is Professor of Criminology, Law and Society and Anthropology at the University of California, Irvine. She is the author of Nations of Emigrants: Shifting Boundaries of Citizenship in El Salvador and the United States; Legalizing Moves: Salvadoran Immigrants’ Struggle for U.S. Residency; and The Culture of Protest: Religious Activism and the U.S. Sanctuary Movement.
Violence and Silence
This chapter analyzes the forms of violence that have produced the temporal, spatial, and biographical disjunctures experienced by 1.5-generation Salvadoran youth. This chapter refuses distinctions between political and other forms of violence (a distinction that has been central to U.S. asylum law) to instead consider the ways in which war, emigration, immigration policies, family separations, silences, and deportation dismember bodies, lives, families, and nations. The chapter treats dis/memberment not only as a form of breaking apart but also as the denial of membership and the erasure of memory. Salvadoran youth are denied membership in El Salvador, in a practical sense, by the events that led them to emigrate and by the stigmatization they face if deported to El Salvador as adults. Many of these youth are also denied membership in the United States for at least some portion of their lives, due to immigration policies that disregarded both the violence that they had experienced in El Salvador and the lives that they had developed in the United States.