Cultural defenses in domestic violence cases use politically expedient stereotypes of culture, forwarded by attorneys on behalf of defendants, to play into already existing negative depictions of culture. This raises difficult questions:

  • Can we balance the strong tension between helping an individual person and the broader effects of employing stereotypes?
  • Could this mean we are actually creating frozen descriptions of what someone from a particular culture is, and therefore, others who come along may not benefit from those frozen descriptions?
  • Is it ever correct to use stereotypes? When we use cultural terms to explain a particular individual’s behavior, what falls out of the picture?
  • What narratives or descriptions about culture work? What do people believe?
  • What do we do about the fact that stereotyping cultural practices are not just mainstream assumptions, but th

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by Leti Volpp

2002

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