According to UN Agencies, Sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) refers to any act that is perpetrated against a person’s will and is based on gender norms and unequal power relationships. It has been widely acknowledged that most gender-based violence is inflicted on women and girls, by men. However, to shift from the definition “violence against women” to “gender based violence” reflects the importance of not relying only on a binary, heteronormative understanding of “sex” and “gender”, that has been acknowledged by many scholars as a form a violence per se. Existing gender norms often serve to maintain structural gender inequalities that shapes societies, cultures, politics and includes all types of violence against men, women, children, adolescents, gay, transgender people and gender non-conforming.
In this Course, gender-based violence is therefore understood as structural violence, that is rooted in a conception of power as hierarchical, as a practice of domination that has to be constantly performed to assure the supremacy and the reality of hegemonic identities. It includes physical, sexual, verbal, emotional, and psychological abuse, threats, coercion, and economic or educational deprivation, whether occurring in public or private life. Feminist political analysis suggests that the division between “the public” and “the private” has to be overcome to unveil the extent to which gender violence act on bodies and on relationships, as a form of Foucauldian “biopower”. The personal is political.
Therefore, the Course will adopt an intersectional approach, according to which gendered violence is observed in its connections to unequal power relations based on race/ethnicity, class, sexuality, culture. Following the suggestion of Post-colonial and De-colonial scholars, it is here assumed that, to some extent, the relational model on which gender violence is shaped is at play also in the contest of colonial and neo-colonial relationships, in which other cultures and ethnicities are “feminized”.
The final part of the course will analyze collective resistance to violence, as well as the social movement discourses (especially transnational feminists and transfeminists movements originating in the “Global South”) surrounding these issues. In these contexts, new theorizations and practices of “self-defense” are displayed to tackle the problem of structural violence from an intersectional angle. Self-defense is intended not merely as a private response to physical assaults, but as a set of practices of self-organization and self-determination (which includes pedagogies, decision processes, non-patriarchal ways of interactions, relations with the environment, and psycho -physical trainings) based on non-hierarchical principles.
The course will draw on theoretical, historical, and sociological literature in order to show how many forms the concept and practices of gendered violence can assume, in how many ways structural power asymmetries shapes gender relationships and the world in which we live (i.e. symbolic violence, epistemic violence, heteronormative violence, etc.). Visual material (Short documentaries; excerpt from films and video interviews) will be also shown in relation to specific case studies.
Students will be asked to actively participating, by presenting examples taken from their cultural background that reinforce or, on the contrary, oppose to arguments presented in class.
1) Introduction: Gender, Power and Violence.
2) Contrasting Gender Based Violence in International Institutions. Agencies, Conventions and Legal Instruments
3) Symbolic Violence – Pierre Bourdieau
4) Epistemic Violence – Gayatrik Chacravorty Spivak; Chandra Tapade Mohanty
5) Violence and Vulnerability - Judit Butler
6) Violence in Representation – Ref. Trinh Thi Minh Ha
7) Violence in a Posthuman setting - Rosi Braidotti; Donna Haraway.
8) Ecological Violence and Indigenous Women’s Movements
9) Gender as Violence – Lugones
10) Structural Violence in the analysis of transnational feminist movements. Case Study: Ni Una Menos, Non Una di Meno.
11) Rearticulating Self Defense. Case studies: Gulabi Gang, YPJ Stars, Wen Do.
Braidotti, R. (2017) 2017, Posthuman Feminism. Cambridge, Polity Press
Butler, J. (2006) Precarious Life: The Powers of Mourning and Violence. London: Verso.
Bourdieu, P. (1998). "Masculine Domination". Polity.
Mohanty, C.T. (2003). Feminism without Borders: Decolonizing Theory, Practicing Solidarity, Spivak, Chakravorty G. (1988). Can the subaltern speak? Basingstoke: Macmillan.
Haraway, D. (1991) Simians, Cyborgs and Women: The Reinvention of Nature, New York: Routledge
Trinh Thi Minh Ha (1991) When the Moon Waxes Red. Representation, Gender and Cultural Politics. Routledge, London-New York
Lugones, M. (2007)Heterosexualism in the Colonial/modern Gender system - Hypatia vol 22 no 1