Reifying Culture: Training Volunteers at a Domestic Violence Agency

Aisha A. Rios

During my second year of graduate school, I participated in a training program for prospective volunteers at a Domestic Violence Agency in a major Mid-Atlantic city (hereafter known as DVA). The DVA provides emergency shelter, transitional housing, legal advocacy, and helps operate a state-based hotline. During the program, the training coordinator presented a range of information regarding domestic violence, including varying cultural responses to such violence. Despite the programs’ intentions to deconstruct cultural stereotypes, I argue that it created reified understandings of cultural groups, functioning to maintain differences between and minimize variation within groups. Anthropologists and other scholars have drawn attention to the way reified understandings of race, gender, socioeconomic class, and sexuality held by actors working in advocacy programs (Adelman 2004; Schow 2006), courtrooms (Allard 2005) and government institutions, such as welfare offices (Davis 2006), have shaped advocacy and policy responses to domestic violence in a way that negatively impacts victims……

Student Anthropologist, 1 (1)

Publication date: 2009

Pages: 4 – 6

Download PDF – Rios 2009

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