Violence As System: A Case Study of Migrant Disappearances in Oaxaca

Tuesday, 12 July 2016: 16:15
Location: Hörsaal 15 (Juridicum)
Oral Presentation
Wendy LOPEZ JUAREZ, Centro de Estudios Interdisciplinarios en Religión y Cultura (CEIRC) Oaxaca., Mexico
Chaime MARCUELLO-SERVOS, Psicología y Sociología, Universidad de Zaragoza, ZARAGOZA, Spain
Violence is a complex phenomenon. It affects individuals, groups and institutions on three levels: interpersonal, intergroup, and institutional. Violence is not only a behaviour involving physical force. It can be cause and consequence; sometimes it is a requirement or a way of understanding, for instance, markets and states. Violent acts are interpreted according to social meanings. The performance analysis of violence phenomena has different theoretical underpinnings within sociological theory. There is a wide range of literature and authors. Here we study a violent case: the disappearance of “undocumented” Oaxacan migrants and the effects on their families, from a sociocybernetical approach.

A missing person is a tragedy for any family. Different types of disappearance happen in dictatorships, authoritarian states and also in violent societies and failed states, like Mexico. We take into account the effects that it has on the families of the disappeared, their communities and civil society. The mistrust in state institutions and the consequences of a failed state system require system theory concepts to explain them. We propose a second order observation process to consider the complexity of these enforced disappearances and to describe the functions, elements and structures operating in the migrant system. We present a case study in Oaxaca to illustrate the problem. We use participant observation and interviews, from a process of support to families of missing migrants.

The paper is divided into five sections including introduction and conclusions. Firstly, it examines the phenomenon of disappearances from a general perspective. Secondly, migration in Mexico and the scene of the disappearances. Thirdly, through the case study, the effects that these disappearances have on families are displayed. The result is a typology of family archetypes and a theoretical framework to explain violence as a system.