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Realizing Nonviolent Resilience

Neoliberalism, Societal Trauma, and Marginalized Voice


Edited By Jeremy A. Rinker and Jerry T. Lawler

Current neoliberal social and economic realities have had enormous impacts on the abilities of oppressed groups and marginalized communities to realize resistance and innate resiliencies. How does the ubiquity of neoliberal economic forces exacerbate traumatized populations’ helplessness, and, thereby, influence their inability to grapple with their oppressors and engage in fruitful change solutions? This edited volume asks how nonviolent conflict practitioners might intervene to ‘treat’ traumatized, and often marginalized, populations suspended in the predicament of ‘acting in’ and ‘acting out’ their collective traumas. Treating trauma is an integral aspect of successful peacebuilding work. This work aims to explore the role of trauma in peacebuilding and illuminate the ways that neoliberal marginalization impacts trauma-informed peace work.

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Chapter Eight: Local Responses to Neoliberalism and Historical Trauma in El Salvador (Matthew Bereza)


Local Responses toNeoliberalism andHistorical Trauma in ElSalvador


El Salvador, like much of Central America, is struggling to overcome a history of foreign domination and conflict while facing neoliberal calls to modernize. Change has come slowly to this nation as it grapples with the legacies of a 12-year civil war that claimed 75,000 lives (Oakes, 2004). Today, conflict transformation, historical trauma, and neoliberal influences collide in this impoverished country. While artifacts of neoliberalism are increasingly evident in El Salvador, there are movements working to challenge hegemonic messages from “dominant” cultures. This chapter will provide a glimpse of life in El Salvador, raise awareness of initiatives countering neoliberalism, and give focus to local attempts to remediate historical trauma. The information is derived from interviews and observations completed in El Salvador with social justice groups, educators, medical personnel, and students.

Resulting from the economic crises of the 1970s in the United States, neoliberalism has come to prominence as the northern/Western construct for economic progress (Toktas, 2018). This philosophy is based on national economic bailouts and resulting regulations upon governments and is often seen as financial hegemony in the Americas. For example, in the 1980s, Argentina and Mexico declared they could ←201 | 202→no longer pay their national debts. The International Monetary Fund (IMF; neoliberalism’s de facto banking system) stepped in and supported Mexico’s economy. In return, the IMF required Mexico to adhere to neoliberal reforms, including Structural Adjustment Programs (SAP) (Steger & Roy, 2013)...

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