In 2006 geographer Keith Yearman launched the “Juarez Declassification” Project aimed at showcasing the attempts to make the issues of feminicidios disappear from national and international agendas. The project contained cables from US and Canadian Embassies with regards to the “bodies found dumped” in deserted areas in the city. The project was dismissed and abandoned. There have been other attempts to merge computation, statistical evidence and the issue of feminicidios in CJ; an example could be the project “Lucy Project” a Phd project that tried to gather information on the missing girls in Ciudad Juarez and offer a platform that could be used to report and denounce women disappearances and murders in the city. Machine learning and computation met again with Ciudad Juarez with various attempts to link the presence of gang graffiti in the city and the drug routes. All of these have been either abandoned or have lacked in-depth understanding of the city and its inhabitants.
The idea of the “CJ RE-classification project” is not to reinvent the wheel but to archive what has been done, over the years, to denounce, report and put an end to the forced disappearances and violent murders of women -and girls as young as six years old- in the city. The aim is to gather evidence: if it is not possible to know how many, at least it is possible to know how much effort has been put into the making and breaking of feminicidios. If in fact on the one side mothers march to know who is taking responsibility, on the other academics and researchers have accused feminicidios to be “myth”.
Rather than dismiss the various positions and privilege one view or truth over another, the idea of the project is to put everything in one place an understand the narrative, the breadth and depth of the issue and the ways in which the issue has been narrated (either to make it a “myth” or a major problem the city has been dealing with for over two decades).
After two years of building the database and structuring the information scattered online with regards to feminicidios in Ciudad Juarez, it has finally been possible to create a Google form directly linked to a SQL database (no chance to access the DB from the form though so info is safely stored). The form allows to upload documents such as pictures, videos and even audio files (for podcasts that are not already shared online). These will be identified with a unique ID and will enrich the already rich database. The layout is very basic but it does the job.
What is the purpose of the database? It was born as a way to record and analyse the image narrative around feminicidios in CJ. Little by little it turned into a necessary archive of information and multi-media material that could record, in one place, the scattered information on feminicidios in Ciudad Juarez. Thanks to the contribution of various activists and friends, it is growing and it has come to include academic papers, conference proceedings, university projects (such as google maps that visualise the number of bodies found in specific locations or years), podcasts, and much more.
The internet offers a rather rich repository of images and audio visual material, “clues” (Eco, 1984) that can inform on the efforts that activists, feminists and families of murdered and missing women in Ciudad Juarez have put in making the issue of female homicides and disappearances visible.
Why a database if the Internet already offers a lot of information? Because no machine learning algorithm will be able to cluster and make sense of the complex narrative associated with the issue and offer some statistical significance to a problem that has never been quantified and has always remained a very local and localised tragedy.
Anybody can submit the form and contribute to the database, which already comprises of over 5,000 between academic papers, pictures of protests, newspapers articles (mainly online newspapers), videos and a couple of podcasts.
To contribute information and keep on enriching the database, please fill in the FORM.