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disputed territory

The word “territory” comes from the Latin “territorium”, a word that on one side is etymologically linked to “territor”, which means “who owns the land” and on the other is linked to “terrorem”, terror. In the social sciences, the territory has been located as the part of space that belongs to a state: literally where the terror, power, authority or jurisdiction that they exercise extends. This etymology is derived from Justinian's “Corpus Juris Civilis”, the first civil law code in the western world: here the territory is the extension that falls under the jurisdiction of the magistrate and is defined by the act of saying justice, exercising power. "The territory then is the sphere defined by the exercise of political power, that is, the production of fear: a notion that has nothing natural, but is totally political" (Farinelli, 2008: 29).

It is necessary to subdue women to control their bodies and their sexuality to reproduce the capitalist war-extractive system (Mies, 1986) (Federici, 2014) (Hernández Castillo, 2010) (Cacho Niño, 2015) (Fulchiron, 2016). This same mechanism is the one that founds the modern concept of private property from which the freedom of the modern Western individual is built. The borders of the body of women, by being identified with their sexuality, with their uterus, host the germ of freedom in modern societies.

The territory is a relational, legal-geographical concept that has been identified with property in modern political science, while "in almost all indigenous societies the territory has been and is the main means of reproduction of life" (Tzul Tzul , 2016: 172). Property, in fact, is what defines political identity, an identity that is affirmed and reaffirmed through the exercise of power over female bodies, womb-bodies for systemic reproduction or body-surface-map to communicate between peers. For this reason, more than as an identity, it is necessary to approach the territory as a social relationship, make visible the extremes of the relationship and understand the position in the hierarchies of power.

The borders of the woman's body, of the finitude of the uterus, have expanded and moved to national and international ones. Violence from the female experience, the 'intimate and private' violence of the 'crime of passion' assumes the characteristics of war and vice versa: the violence assumes the characteristics of sexual violence, it becomes sexualized, in a criminal practice that involves different actors and it annihilates socially, it seeks to create conditions for a living death, it seeks community extermination, territorial and community annihilation. The centrality of thinking in terms of body-territory is also affirmed in the sense that the territory assumes characteristics of the female body, it is feminized at the moment of conquest, occupation, dispossession, functionalization.

Extracted de "From the body in the territory to the body-territory: Elements for a Latin American feminist genealogy of criticism of violence"

Giulia Marchese

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