Thesis

How The Violence Against Women Act Discursively Constructs Immigrant Women as "Worthy" of Protection.

The reauthorization of VAWA 2013 had a long process compared to the other reauthorizations that followed the landmark of VAWA 1994. Its reauthorization process coincided with the 2008 economic recession and the anti-immigrant sentiment. My research question is how the provisions in Title VIII of the VAWA 2013 law affected undocumented immigrant women when they are in a situation of domestic violence, hence, how the Violence against Women Act discursively constructs immigrant women as “worthy” of protection. I used the critical discourse analysis to examine the texts of the hearings and testimonies of the witnesses, that is, the debates, in the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States. I used the news outlets that emerged during that period of time, more specifically, one of the major circulation newspapers, which was the New York Times in order to know the social trend. The results indicate that VAWA is a vulnerable law since it is affected by the economic, political and social situation. VAWA is affected in its provisions, funds and grants specifically by the less favored groups labeled as the “underserved population” such as the undocumented immigrant women in a situation of domestic violence. I used the intersectionality theory of Patricia Hill Collins (1990) and Kimberly Crenshaw (1989), thus, the intersection of gender, class, race and immigration issues. In addition, Pierre Bourdieu's theory of symbolic power and Foucault's Discipline and Punish theory helped me understand how the policies and procedures established in VAWA shape undocumented women’s life in domestic violence.

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