Continuities and contestations in responding to gender-based violence: laws, practices, definitions

Giovanna Cavatorta (CNRS )
50 George Square, G.06
Wednesday 12 June, 10:45-12:30

Short abstract:

This panel wants to discuss the diachronic and contested development of juridical responses to gender-based violence in African countries and invites fieldworkers to reflect on how, in this particular domain, law constitutes a semi-autonomous social field.

Long abstract:

A persisting issue in Africa is that the defence of gendered minorities as a social and political stake principally emerged as the result of colonial policies and, then, development and humanitarian ones. The very definitions of what it has being locally considered gendered justice reflect these ongoing histories of power and governamentalities. This panel calls for a discussion on how global agenda on gendered rights is dynamically incorporated, contested and reshaped by local governments, laws, social actors. We intend to focus particularly on the judicial response to gender-based violence, considering that this is a field remarkably revealing the diachronic persistence and changes of distinct juridical sources, multiple norms, definitely cultural meanings. In this sense, we seek fieldwork-based contributions that explore how the hegemonic notions and the practical enactment of rights and gendered justice articulate with major theoretical matters -such as personhood, moral economies, et al.-. Which continuities and ruptures with the 20th-century approaches emerge in respect to contemporary juridical tackling of gender-based violence? How the shifting and contestations in defining this violence can thus be sized? Which negotiations and conflicts between public services' users and the distinct actors that are supposed to assure gendered rights -state officers, lawyers, experts- are deployed in their claims or enforcements? How does the law emerge a semi-autonomous social field in tackling gender-based violence and what does this tell us concerning the gendered citizenship in African contexts? These and other questions could be addressed.