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Laura J. Shepherd

This chapter explains the organization of the Handbook into three discrete but overlapping sections: concepts, representations, and contexts. The chapters in the section on concepts elaborate on the tools we use to think with in our work on gender and violence (not only the concepts of gender and violence but related concepts like sex, sexualities, patriarchy, and security). The section on representation includes chapters on the different ways in which gender and violence are constituted in and through various representational practices, including film, policy, and online. Finally, the section on contexts is devoted to the examination of gender and violence in various different empirical settings, including different spheres of activity, from economic to juridical. This chapter provides a brief overview of the work in each section and draws out some thematic connections across the collection.

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Marysia Zalewski

I open this chapter with a reminder of the complexities of the concepts of gender and violence, and especially their interaction. I offer a selective feminist portrait of the development of the concept of gender, drawing particular attention to the changing ordering of sex and gender depending on the legitimacy awarded to social construction. I move to open more complexities around the work of gender using an art work as an illustration. I then more explicitly speak to the relationship between gender and violence. I conclude with an appeal to keep gender open as a question rather than to assume its content. Given the vast archives of theory around gender, the current attacks on this concept – and the rights and values associated with its feminist use – whatever the reasons for its current troubling character, gender more than ever deserves our very close attention.

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Celeste Montoya

Female activists and scholars of colour have long emphasized the importance of understanding violence in regard to both gender and race, yet work on violence (both activist and scholarly) tends to focus on one or the other. This chapter examines the challenges that have been posed to such single-axis approaches. It posits how gendered violence might be understood as raced and racial violence understood as gendered, as a means of moving towards a more intersectional and integrated approach.

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Lise Rolandsen Agustín and Emanuela Lombardo

This chapter examines the concept of intersectionality – the intersection of gender with inequalities of race, ethnicity, class, sexuality, age, and other systems of domination – in relation to gender-based violence. It shows how applying an intersectional approach to the study of gender-based violence policies contributes to exposing power dynamics that intersecting systems of inequalities produce, and their effects on people and policymaking. It provides an intersectional perspective on the ways in which policymaking treats target groups of gender-based violence, exposing the focus on victims and the lack of attention to perpetrators, as well as the main inequality categories intersected in policymaking. It addresses the quality of policymaking process and content from an intersectional approach, pointing at inclusiveness as a key feature of intersectional policy approaches. It not only discusses approaches for applying intersectionality in policymaking that attempt to demarginalize people who experience intersecting inequalities, but also addresses challenging debates concerning the risks of stigmatization and culturalization of policy approaches that deal with multiple inequalities. Finally, the chapter recommends future studies to analyse the application of intersectional approaches in gender-based violence at the stage of policy implementation and develop intersectional educational practices that have the potential to deeply transform existing power inequalities.

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Jamie J. Hagen

This chapter introduces the main scholarship pertaining to sexuality as it relates to gender, with a focus on how this intersection matters for better understanding violence targeting LGBTQ individuals. Specifically, the chapter will examine how homophobia is used as a means of upholding heteronormativity on the institutional level. The chapter will consider how upholding norms based on binary constructions of masculinity and femininity perpetuates forms of violence, especially for queer and trans individuals who are deemed to being failing to perform these aspects of their identity appropriately, and who are then punished through acts of violence. Additionally, the chapter reviews four key debates about sexuality: (1) the ongoing tension between sexual rights as a liberal politics versus a more radical conception of queer liberation that is not reliant on identity politics; (2) the inclusion of trans studies within sexuality studies; (3) the challenges of interpreting or working to protect sexualities in postcolonial contexts; and (4) how queer, trans and feminist interventions in global studies cause us to rework key tenets of how gender matters to understanding violence.

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David Duriesmith

This chapter explores the relationship between masculinity and violence. Charting the emergence of scholarship on masculinity, it looks at how understanding of the link between men, masculinity and violence has shifted. The chapter looks at the multiple and often seemingly contradictory ways in which the idea of masculinity is employed to understand the practice of violence. To do this it explores masculinity and violence on interpersonal, organizational, cultural and structural levels. Reflecting on the intersecting forms of violence that masculinity causes, the chapter then considers the ways in which masculinity might change to challenge violence or produce more peaceful formations. The chapter concludes by concludes by addressing the tensions that exist between different uses of the notion of masculinity, suggesting that greater clarity is essential to counter the violence it produces.

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Jessica Auchter

While feminist theorists have consistently made the point that particular bodies are left out of political theorizing, there remains some contestation over how to conduct work that would demonstrate that particular bodies matter. The chapter surveys two key perspectives on gender and the body: one which begins with women and the violence committed against them; and the other which sees the gendering of subjects as itself a kind of insidious discursive violence that imposes regulatory norms and enables other forms of physical violence. It is this distinction which perhaps highlights the dilemma at the heart of this chapter on the body: that there is little agreement on what role the body actually plays in such a discussion. Indeed, among feminists there may be little agreement on what the body is, and thus its politics. This chapter takes this dilemma as a starting point as a means to describe the current state of work on gender and the body in the study of world politics (which I take to include development, security, economics, and so on), and to inquire into the politics of violence and materiality connected to theorizing gender and the body in global politics.

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Karen Boyle

This chapter explains how feminists have sought to understand the sex of sexual violence, particularly rape. These debates are centrally about the nature of heterosex in patriarchy; but they are also inextricably about the nature and structure of feminism itself, from the consciousness-raising speak-outs of the Women’s Liberation Movement to the relationship of feminism to the state. Feminist work in this area takes place against a backdrop where sexual violence has not been, and still is not, taken seriously, in particular because of its sexual element. This chapter positions the feminist analysis of rape as violence-not-sex against this backdrop to understand its political salience whilst nevertheless highlighting the limitations of this approach, not least in relation to enabling women to understand and name their own experiences. It uses the allegations against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, and the outpouring of women’s testimony under the hashtag #MeToo, to work through key arguments and tensions around the sex of sexual violence for feminist analysis. At the heart of this chapter is recognition that whilst rape is, of course, a material reality, it is also a discourse: how we name and define rape and sexual violence – and the implications of these practices – is thus the central concern of this chapter.

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Kaye Quek

The concept of patriarchy has a long and, at times, fraught history in academic work on violence and gender. This chapter explores how the term has been used by scholars working in the field, beginning with its origins in second-wave feminist theorizing in the global North. The discussion examines in detail the idea that, as a social and political system, patriarchy relies on gendered physical and sexual violence as a way to maintain the subordinate status of women to men. It then goes on to consider major critiques that have been levelled at scholarly analyses linking patriarchy to the problem of gendered violence, in particular the notion that such works engage in totalizing and essentializing discourses. Finally, the chapter provides an overview of the growing body of more recent research that seeks to revive ‘patriarchy’ as a theoretical tool for understanding specific instances of gendered harm. It argues, overall, that patriarchy has been, and continues to be, a remarkably resilient concept in scholarly work on gender and violence, as both a focus of critique and as a key analytical framework underpinning a great deal of research.

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Consuelo Corradi and Daniela Bandelli

In recent years, the notion of femicide has gained prominence and also significance. The word first gained traction in 1976, with the purpose of raising awareness about crimes against women because the violent death of women was a specific form of crime in itself, and should not be confused with the gender-neutral term ‘homicide’. At that time, it had a specific political purpose in that it intended to produce changes in a social order, which was blind to those deaths. More recently, the notion of femicide has been widely employed by researchers in disciplines such as sociology, anthropology, psychology and criminology. It has also made its way into the official documents of the United Nations and policymaking institutions. The purpose of this chapter is to review the particular meanings that femicide has acquired when applied in different contexts. First, we present definitions of femicide. We then illustrate four country case studies – Mexico, Argentina, Italy and India – where the notion of femicide has spread in association with local cultural and political issues. Finally, we analyse differences and similarities of the national cases, and develop recommendations for the application of the concept in empirical research.