8th June 2017, 16:15- 17:45
Linnésalen, Campus Linné, University of Gothenburg
Funded by the Gothenburg Centre of Globalisation and Development and the Swedish Research Council
Debates around sexual violence often place consent - and, in particular, the lack of it - at the heart of their definitions. In popular discourse as well as in legal judgements, consent is the hinge around which a particular act is understood as ‘sex’ or, alternatively, as ‘violence.’ However, despite the simplicity and rigidity often attributed to consent as a dividing line, feminist scholarship and activism has revealed the murkiness, the slippages, and the politics involved in invoking a liberal notion of ‘consent’ in defining sex and violence - and, additionally, the ways in which the relationship between the two plays out differently across various global and local discourses and contexts. Some have argued, for example, that the coercive nature of particular contexts - such as war, or varying scales of poverty - negate the possibility that ‘true’ consent can exist, such that all sex under these conditions should be considered violence. Others have pointed to the erasure of agency and the undertones of moral judgement and of colonial paternalism entailed in denying the ability of particular subjects to consent to doing particular things with their bodies. Moreover, given that the lines between contexts of ‘coercion’ and contexts of ‘freedom’ and the positioning of different subjects within them are never fixed but always blurred and shifting, the process of drawing firm lines between the spaces of consent and of coercion will always be fraught and contested. And yet, we find ourselves compelled to draw such lines, and to draw them with a force and with an urgency, because these lines matter in relation to important questions of protection from bodily harm and promotion of bodily autonomy.
The speakers on this roundtable approach questions of consent from a variety of perspectives and base their observations on in-depth studies in a number of different global contexts, including the Nordic countries, the USA, Uganda, the DRC, India, and the UK. The panel’s discussions will begin to unpack some of the complexities around the conceptualization and the deployment of consent, and the discursive work that this does in defining how we make sense of the sexual, of violence, and of subjectivity.
Professor Erin Baines, University of British Colombia, Canada
Dr Pratiksha Baxi, Jawaharlal Nehru University, India
Dr Joseph Fischel, Yale University, USA
Dr Johan Karlsson Schaffer, University of Gothenburg, Sweden
Dr Maroyi Mulumeoderhwa, University of the Free State, South Africa
Dr Tanya Palmer, University of Sussex, UK
Professor Maria Stern, University of Gothenburg, Sweden