Queering Queerer and Family Violence

On the 1-4 of December 2020, our project held the first workshop ‘Queering Family Violence: setting agenda for queer wellbeing’. This event brought together scholars from all over the world. Colleagues from Northern Europe, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Canada, and Australia joined us to think queerer about family violence not by simply including LGBT people into the scope of studies of family violence, but also by looking for original ways of rethinking major concepts in the field.

The first session ‘New Theoretical Approaches’ was devoted to re-conceptualisation of currently dominant approaches to the study violence. Dr. Esra Umak, visiting scholar at the University of Oslo, opened up the panel with their presentation on psychological intimate partner violence (IPV) affecting lesbian and bisexual women in Denmark and Turkey. They approached the subject of her study using the concept of internalised heterosexism.
The second presentation by Dr. Grønli Rosten from Department of Youth research, Oslo Metropolitan University, scrutinised the phenomenon of consent in BDSM. Drawing on her qualitative interviews with BDSM practitioners, Dr. Rosten questions whether or not ‘yes’ really means ‘yes’ in complex relationships of power and authority within the studied community.
Finally, Dr. Kris Clarke and Dr. Mona Livholts, University of Helsinki, presented a research plan aimed at unpacking queer intimate partner violence. They approach ‘violence directed against and between queer people as symptomatic of cis-hetero and white patriarchal colonial frameworks.’

The second session ‘Queer Violence at Intersections’ looked at complex experiences of victims and perpetrators of violence. The presentation by Dr. Jen Marchbank from Simon Fraser University (Canada) discussed queer vulnerabilities and ageing. Dr. Jen Marchbank presented troubles and controversies around the social project on LGBT elder abuse which brought together queer youth and queer seniors.
The presentation of Nicole Ovesen, Uppsala University, continued discussion on intersection of queerness, vulnerabilities, violence and time. She talked about queering as disruption of time. Based on conversations with 25 people who have experienced violence in intimate lesbian and/or queer relationships in Sweden, Ovesen explores how IPV in lesbian and queer relationships disrupts temporalities.
Finally, Stephen Azarian, University of Roehampton, presented his project aimed at exploring public articulations of vulnerabilities expressed by the people who experienced violence based in both gender and sexuality. The project is a catalogue of all stories of violence aired during more than a decade of RuPaul’s Drag Race show where queens compete for the title of America’s next drag superstar.

The final session ‘Approaches to Queer and Violence’ highlighted the diversity of ways to address violence in queer relations. The presentation of Helga Eggebø and Elisabet Stubberud, Norland Research Institute in Bodø (Norway), revealed the experiences of violence among queer migrants in Norway. The researchers discussed how ‘vulnerability to violence is related to the wider patterns of discrimination and juridical, economic and social marginalisation’
In another presentation, Dr. Damien Riggs, Flinders University (Australia), Nik Taylor (University of Canterbury, UK) and Heather Fraser (QUT) focused on pets and other animals when looking at domestic violence (for more details see their post in our blog). On the one hand, the research revealed practices of speciesism, but also highlighted that ‘where there is violence against domestic animals, there is more extreme violence against humans.’ Moreover, violence against animals can be a form of violence against humans (in the logic of ‘I won’t feed your cat unless you sleep with me’).

These conversations have paved the way of thinking about violence in new original ways. The studies to date show that there are many queer approaches to violence in general and family violence in particular. Yet, there is also room for even queerer queer approaches that we intend to develop over the course of future workshops.

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