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Job Talk - Forcing Sex: Violence, Ethics, and South African Masculinities

When Mar 01, 2016
from 3:30 PM to 5:00 PM
Where 124 Sparks
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Abstract: South Africa has gained global attention for what appear as especially violent forms of masculinity: condemned for extraordinary rates of sexual assault, ‘corrective’ rapes of lesbians, and intentional HIV infections.  While strongly concerning, these instances have also been sensationalized in media accounts and characterized transnationally as demonstrations of exceptional and specifically African violence.  This talk contends that challenges to masculinities in post-apartheid South Africa occur through forms of violence including stigma, assault/murder, medical maltreatment, and aggressive policing but that such violence is facilitated by the unethical transnational objectification of black bodies.  Further, while dedicated to analyzing masculinities, the focus of this presentation is not on men.  Instead, it examines disruptions to rigid masculinities by those who do not identify as men and the social threats and possibilities such disruptions pose.  Gendered violence is one of the most vexing issues facing contemporary societies.  Taking public incidents and debates in South Africa over the past decade as its foci and drawing on two decades of intentional and careful research relationships, this presentation will explore the ways masculinities are unsettled and attended to.  In so doing, it will illuminate ways to better understand violence and offer concrete means of ethically troubling and confronting it through a transnational feminist lens.

SwarrAmanda Lock Swarr is Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Studies in the Gender, Women and Sexuality Studies Department at the University of Washington.  She holds a Ph.D. in Feminist Studies (2003) and a M.A. in Anthropology (1998) from the University of Minnesota and was Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship at Barnard College of Columbia University from 2003-2005.  Swarr is the co-editor of Critical Transnational Feminist Praxis (with Richa Nagar).  Her monograph, Sex in Transition: Remaking Gender and Race in South Africa, was awarded the Sylvia Rivera Prize in Transgender Studies from CLAGS at CUNY (2013) and was Honorable Mention for both the 2014 Distinguished Book Award from the American Sociological Association’s Section on Sexuality and the Ruth Benedict Prize from the American Anthropological Association’s AQA.  Swarr has collaborated with South African activists since 1997 and continues this work in her current book project, Forcing Sex: Contesting Violent Masculinities in Contemporary South Africa.

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