Latinas’ Narratives of Domestic Abuse

Discrepant versions of violence

Shonna L. Trinch | Florida State University
ISBN 9789027218551 (Eur) | EUR 115.00
ISBN 9781588114150 (USA) | USD 173.00
ISBN 9789027296009 | EUR 115.00 | USD 173.00
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In the American legal system valid witness-testimony is supposed to be invariable and unchanging, so defense attorneys highlight seeming inconsistencies in victims’ accounts to impeach their credibility. This book offers an examination of how and why victims of domestic violence might seem to be ‘changing their stories,’ in the criminal justice system, which may leave them vulnerable to attack and criticism. Latinas’ Narratives of Domestic Abuse: Discrepant versions of violence investigates the discourse of protective order interviews, where women apply for court injunctions to keep abusers away. In these encounters, two different versions of violence, each influenced by a range of ethnolinguistic, intertextual and cultural factors, are always produced. This ethnography of Latina women narrating violence suggests that before victims even get to trial, their testimony involves much more than merely telling the truth. This book provides a unique look at pre-trial testimony as a collaborative and dynamic social and cultural act.
Publishing status: Available
Table of Contents
“This is the first major, comprehensive work dealing with discursive constructions of violence in the protective order application interview: a study of intertextual, interinstitutional, and interdiscursive narration and variation between Latina immigrant victims in the United States and the legal gatekeepers/advocates (along with translators in some cases) who interview them. This isn't your ordinary sociolinguiistic or discourse analysis of interview talk but a richly detailed ethnography of linguistic interaction, culture and power in the criminal justice system.[...]Trinch demonstrates in vivid detail what happens when the oral story is decontextualized and recontextualized in the form of the written report, recognizing of course that legal translation will always to some extent distort lay litigant experience (making it difficult if not impossible to personalize an impersonal system). I cannot think of a socio-, or anthrolinguistic work that matches the depth and scope of Trinch's analysis in terms of incorporating both domination and the legal system into a fine grained analysis of communicative detail.[...] Latina's Narratives is not only a work of immense interest for sociolinguists and discourse analysts but also, even more importantly, for the legal and criminal professionals handling cases of domestic abuse.”
“Both in terms of ethnographic data presented, and the breath and astuteness of her theoretical engagement, Trinch's book is quite simply one of the richest ethnographies I have ever read. Trinch's ethnography itself provides a voice not often represented within Euro-American Anthropology...Any ethnographer reading this book will undoubtedly scrutinize past interview situations within the interactional institution of anthropological fieldwork, any question whether some of the language ideological forces unearthed in this book have affected their work. The richness of the material uncovered in this enthnography, and the detail of the analysis leads one to think about other possible fields of application of Trinch's research strategy...Trinch's work is of equal relevance for researchers working within the field of medical anthropology, and study the construction of medical reports, and more importantly medical (mis-)diagnosis and treatment in cross-cultural settings. Her focus on the sociolinguistic aspects of talking about sexual violence (Chapter 9) provides valuable insights not found elsewhere in the literature.”
“This rich and illuminating study documents the struggles over meanings and representations that accompany lay litigants' entry into the legal system. Trinch demonstrates in compelling detail the force of the law in transforming women's abuse narratives and suppressing their own definitions of what constitutes violence against women.”
“I recommend Latina's'Narrative of Domestic Abuse as a key text for undergraduate students in medical anthropology, legal anthropology, sociolinguistics, gender studies and refugee studies. Postgraduate students within these fields should also study this book to gain insights into the way sociolinguistics can be used to construct a cutting-edge ethnography.”
“This book is a welcome addition to the growing number of very good to excellent sociolinguistic monograph studies on law and language. Trinch writes very well, combining clarity, explicitness and authoritativeness. The theoretical argument is amply tested and exemplified with a large number data extracts (69), which range in length from a few lines to almost four pages. The excellent tables and figures enhance what is consistently a highly readable text, and the glossary of more than 40 legal terms will undoubtedly be a most welcome inclusion for many readers. Latinas' Narratives of Domestic Abuse should be enthusiastically received by students and scholars of sociolinguistics and forensic linguistics. And in the way that it addresses the questions concerning why it matters that these women's stories are transformed, this book is also highly recommended to students and scholars in a wide range of social science and related fields, including sociolegal studies, gender studies, and social work.”
“The study under review clearly reflects the influence of the work of Trinch's mentor, Susan Berk-Seligson. It is a carefully planned and executed case study soundly couched in present-day discourse analytic theory and the methods of the ethnography of communication which contributes to the diversification of the rapidly expanding field of studies focusing on the use of language in the sociolegal system, especially in the U.S.”
Cited by

Cited by 69 other publications

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2024. Trajectories of spirituality: Producing and assessing cultural evidence at the International Criminal Court. Language in Society  pp. 1 ff. DOI logo
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This list is based on CrossRef data as of 14 february 2024. Please note that it may not be complete. Sources presented here have been supplied by the respective publishers. Any errors therein should be reported to them.


Communication Studies

Communication Studies

Main BIC Subject

CFB: Sociolinguistics

Main BISAC Subject

LAN009000: LANGUAGE ARTS & DISCIPLINES / Linguistics / General
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ONIX 2.1
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U.S. Library of Congress Control Number:  2003054588 | Marc record