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    Reckoning with the stuckness : a critical exploration into the affective dimensions of feminist politics around justice after sexual violence

    Ackhurst, Molly Rosabelle (2024) Reckoning with the stuckness : a critical exploration into the affective dimensions of feminist politics around justice after sexual violence. PhD thesis, Birkbeck, University of London.

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    This thesis argues there is a state of stuckness shaping contemporary feminist sexual violence politics and work when it comes to the topic of justice. Defined by a need to move forward and enact change to get justice, whilst simultaneously being unable to do so, the way this stuckness manifests varies across different bodies and objects. To draw out these different elements this thesis undertakes discursive work with critical feminist academic texts, and qualitative work combining collage-making and interviews with frontline sexual violence workers and service users with experiences of homelessness. Through drawing together these areas of analysis it argues that that in some instances there is a cyclicity to stuckness, in others stagnation and immovability, and sometimes these states of being overlap. However, in their own ways, each of these states fosters a stuckness that makes shifting away from carceral systems, structures, and logics feel and seem impossible. In conceptualising this stuckness I argue it is produced by two attachments that are both emotional and political in nature. The first of these is the attachment to a limiting notion of justice, that strives to solve something that is inherently unsolvable. While partially due to justice’s intrinsic associations with retribution, fairness and balancing the scales, I argue that this attachment to a justice that solves fosters the more circular parts of the state of stuckness. The second attachment is to survivors and being “survivor-led”, which I define as following a survivor’s wishes without question or critique. I contend that this attachment produces the more stagnant parts of stuckness, whereby texts, workers and service users appear attached to certain carceral ideas about what survivors and perpetrators deserve, despite simultaneously recognising the limits of a carceral politic. In making sense of these attachments, I claim they are undergirded by the perpetual injustice that is both sexual violence itself, and also the systematic lack of justice for survivors, as well as the accumulative effects of feminist political traditions that are invested in affective politics. Central to the arguments made by this thesis is an awareness that this stuckness is difficult and confronting to reckon with. However, in unpacking it in this way, I attempt to contribute to a feminist project and politics that thinks differently about what survivors want, need, and deserve after sexual violence. I thus argue reckoning with stuckness is not only possible, but also necessary if feminism is to further less stuck futures for survivors of sexual violence.


    Item Type: Thesis
    Copyright Holders: The copyright of this thesis rests with the author, who asserts his/her right to be known as such according to the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988. No dealing with the thesis contrary to the copyright or moral rights of the author is permitted.
    Depositing User: Acquisitions And Metadata
    Date Deposited: 15 Apr 2024 14:09
    Last Modified: 15 Apr 2024 15:40


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