In 2006 Wiser hosted a discussion titled: What was at stake in the Zuma trial, and the panellists were Tawana Kupe, Anton Harber, Deborah Posel, Robert Muponde and Irma du Plessis. Since then across WITS there have been panel discussions, workshops, seminars and research meetings about rape, usually placed in the wider context of gender based violence and and sexual harassment, but no discussion has centred on how we think about rape and why.
This panel takes off from the activist energies and legal investigative work we have witnessed at WITS all through February and March, energies and activism resonating with similar outrage and activism across South Africa.
This starting point allows us to frame rape in South Africa as a burning social issue, now, and to own that it has deep genealogical roots. The case studies, forensic and criminal justice work, legal cases, medical evidence, therapeutic work, media reports, activist accounts, personal narratives and social, ethical and political commentary generated about rape in this region amounts to a vast archive of evidence.
But what do we make of this?
In this panel session we ask people who work on themes of rape, and who have conducted research on rape, to step back, and abstract from the mass of data they work with, and offer critical reflections on the most effective and persuasive ways to think about rape from their research, and often also activist, standpoints.
We ask our panellists to consider these questions: what have been, and are, our entry points in disciplines as we research, write about, and teach about rape? What are the persuasive explanatory and interrogative frameworks we have found most salient for our work in this region of the world? Are we developing a theory from this place – is that a useful question even, and is a transnational theory of rape a powerful or limiting research and thinking stance?
In other words: How do we theorise rape?
In response to the interest in this event and its importance we have divided the evening into a 2 part panel discussion with drinks and light food in-between.
We have asked people to consider giving a short presentation (10 mins) on their own theoretical approaches to rape, from the place of their discipline, reading, and practice.
Time: 5:30 to 8:00 pm, Place: WiSER, 11 April 2013