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Sara ParetskyDetective fiction as trauma literature$
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Cynthia S. Hamilton

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780719096952

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: January 2016

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9780719096952.001.0001

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Community and empowerment

Community and empowerment

(p.75) 3 Community and empowerment
Sara Paretsky

Cynthia S. Hamilton

Manchester University Press

This chapter looks at the way Paretsky constructs her social landscape of changing neighbourhoods, where tensions and power struggles threaten fractures along lines of class, race, and ethnicity. It examines the way communities, as opposed to geographical neighbourhoods, define their boundaries and reinforce their sense of communal identity. Paretsky constructs idealised versions of community and family as nurturing, therapeutic environments; these are then used to critique coercive power dynamics and abusive relationships. Her portrait of Chicago’s neighbourhoods and communities is informed by the ideals she imbibed from her involvement in the second wave of the feminist movement and by her observations as a community organiser and volunteer. Within this complex landscape—part theoretically conceived, part reflection of the city she closely observes—her detective’s marginality is defined, a marginality that has particular political possibilities and implications.

Keywords:   Neighbourhood, Communal identity, empowerment, class, race, ethnicity, Chicago, Abusive relationships, marginality

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