Beyond Carceralism: Global Feminists and the Struggle Against Sexual and Gender Based Violence (1975 – 1995)

Auteur Nivedita JOON
Directeur /trice Nicole Bourbonnais
Co-directeur(s) /trice(s) Aidan Russell
Résumé de la thèse

According to UN Women, at least 158 countries have laws on the issue of domestic violence, and 141 countries have laws against sexual violence in the workplace (‘Facts and Figures’ 2023). These developments are a result of decades of feminist organising both at the level of domestic and international politics. In this research project, I will explore the history of one strand of transnational feminist activism – the global movement against sexuality and gender-based violence (SGBV). Exploring the critical struggles among feminists both in the Global North and the Global South, I will trace the history and politics of the ‘carceral’ dimensions of the movement from the 1970s to the 1990s. ‘Carceral feminism’ is the theory and practice of feminist anti-violence activism that centres the role of the state’s criminal justice system and its punitive power to imprison perpetrators of gender-based violence. However, carceral solutions to gender violence have been criticized by many feminists who argue that they make lives worse for already marginalized women –women of colour, immigrants, indigenous, Dalit and tribal women (Srinivasan 2021; Law 2014). Turning towards the early years of feminist organising against SGBV, I will analyse archival documents of proceedings, organisations, advocacy campaigns, personal papers of activists, and conduct interviews with activists to explore how they approached the question of violence against women, and what forms of carceral and non-carceral approaches were put forward in these spaces. Moreover, I will examine why different activists differ in their conceptualisations of SGBV and the state’s capacity to advance gender justice, excavate the alternatives to carceral feminism that existed in these gatherings, and study how and why carceral approaches seem to have won out over non-carceral ideas on the global stage (Jaleel 2021). In doing so, I aim to ground the growing scholarship on anti-carceral politics, the prison abolitionist movement and transformative anti-violence politics in a longer, more global, and more complicated historical trajectory (Davis et al 2022).

Statut au début
Délai administratif de soutenance de thèse 2026