CfP: New Directions in Sexual Violence Scholarship Workshop, Workshop Bristol Law School, 16 May 2019

by | 1 Mar 2019

The question of how to generate meaningful change in the area of sexual violence is a perennial problem for feminist scholars. This, however, is preceded by another question that is sometimes neglected: How do we effectively theorise what sexual violence is, what it means and why it happens? The legal and policy environment in which we conduct research gives the impression of simultaneous movement and stasis in which a lot is said and planned but very little seems to change; a veritable ‘review-go-round’, in Jan Jordan’s words. In an environment that prioritises fast and tangible ‘impactful’ research, how do we find the space to generate new theoretical insights that might help us better to inform law and policy?

This workshop is designed to provide a forum for these discussions and for the development of work that seeks the fruitful integration of feminist theory and praxis. We therefore invite submissions that engage with and develop feminist theoretical scholarship around sexual violence, broadly conceived. The workshop seeks to bring together leading scholars, activists and researchers whose work urges us to ‘think differently’ about sexual violence as a problem for law, politics and society.

Topics for discussion might include, but are not limited to:

  • New insights from historical or archival research into policy and law on sexual violence.
  • Resistance to rape without the state.
  • New directions in feminist epistemology and sexual violence narrative studies.
  • The relationship between feminist anti-racist activist politics and law and legal institutions.
  • Critical reflections on the analytic tradition and its usefulness for feminist rape research.
  • The practice of sexual violence activism in higher education.

Submissions are invited for this one-day workshop to be held on Thursday 16th May 2019 hosted by the University of Bristol Law School in association with the school’s Human Rights Implementation Centre. It will take place on the 16 May 2019, 10.00 AM – 6.00 PM; Lady Hale Moot Court, 8-10 Berkeley Square.

The workshop will be concluded by a public keynote address by Louise du Toit, Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Stellenbosch and University of Bristol IAS Benjamin Meaker Visiting Professor.

Reading Rape Law from the South

In this lecture I argue that in spite of the strong promise contained in the ICTR and ICTY verdicts on war rape, there are also important shortcomings. I link the set of shortcomings to be identified with two main issues, namely one, in terms of structure, the moments within the verdicts when the productive interpretative tension between human rights aspirations and lived narratives broke down and two, in terms of content, the verdicts’ internationalization of the notion of ‘stranger rape’.  Thus, although we have in these verdicts important new acknowledgements of (war) rapes as crimes against humanity, at the same time the conditions under which these crimes are acknowledged as such, are narrowly circumscribed. The ways in which they are so narrowly circumscribed are moreover telling, and on my reading, an indication of colonial and racist roots of both international criminal and rape law. Thus, reading rape law ‘from the South’ may assist all of us in better resisting all the problematic ways in which it became possible for a new paradigm for the criminalisation of (war) rape to open up within the dominant legal order.

Workshop attendance is free, though registration is required. Some funding may be available for those who do not have institutional funding to support travel.

The deadline for abstracts is Friday 29th March 2019, all abstracts should be sent to Yvette Russell

Contact information

If you have any enquries about this event, please contact Yvette Russell


  1. I am working for the Integration and gender equality at council of Reutlingen, south Germany, Baden Württemberg, but my Status is in on honourable base, therefore I am asking if is possible to have a financial help to attend the Workshop.


    Rui Marques Pinto


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