Call for papers for a special issue of violence against women - Transforming campus cultures: Activism to end gender based violence

Deadline: 7 August 2017

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Editors: Ruth Lewis (University of Northumbria, UK) and Susan Marine (Merrimack College, MA, USA)

With scholarship and activism about gender-based violence (GBV) in universities well-established in the US and Canada over the last few decades, and addressed more recently in Europe and Australia as part of the wider resurgence in feminist activism, it is timely to redirect attention to the attempts to transform, rather than simply adapt, university environments. After decades of laudable effort to address GBV in universities, and the significant challenges they represent to gender equality, it is imperative to ask the question: do we know enough about how to transform university environments and to liberate them from GBV?  How can new ways of thinking and acting on these problems re-center and address the ultimate goal - the elimination of GBV?  Despite resistance amongst scholars, activists and practitioners, in the US and Canada efforts to address GBV in universities have fallen victim to bureaucratic and market forces neoliberal commodification, which has prioritised systems of auditing, monitoring and data-collecting. Arguably, these developments restrict the scope for radical transformational change to gender relations and lead to the normalisation of GBV. Noting that there is a proliferation of scholarship in relation to institutional policy, legalistic responses, and bystander frameworks (for example, Fenton et al, 2016; Fisher, Daigle, & Cullen, 2009; Freeman & Klein, 2012; Karjane et al, 2006), the editors invite papers for this special issue, to be published in 2018, to fill the gap in scholarship about the enduring need for, and attempts to achieve, cultural transformation in universities.

Papers in the special issue will examine activist and other transformational responses to GBV by students, faculty and staff, and the ways they are enacting change locally to challenge the scaffolding of GBV, often described as rape culture (Buchwald, Fletcher & Roth, 2005; Henry & Powell, 2014), lad culture (Phipps and Young, 2015), and laddism (Lewis, Marine, & Kenney, 2016). The prioritising of programmatic, solution-based interventions to tackle GBV in the university context poses unique challenges to meaningful cultural transformation, which this volume will productively explore. The special issue provides an opportunity for critical engagement with institutional policies and practices in terms of how they contribute to or inhibit cultural transformation.

To maintain a focus on the cultural context of GBV in its various forms (rather than just sexual violence, for example), papers could focus on GBV committed and experienced by faculty, staff and/or students as well as addressing domestic violence, stalking, and other gender-based forms of harassment.  Scholarship examining GBV reflects consciousness of the saliency of interlocking systems of oppression, thus papers submitted to this special issue should engage productively with reflexivity along these vectors of difference, including race/ethnicity, (dis)ability, socioeconomic class, nationality, and other identity dimensions. Recognizing the significant uptick in awareness of gender-based violence against trans*, gender non-conforming, and gender non-binary individuals and communities (Cantor, et al., 2015), a gender-expansive framework will characterize this issue’s papers.


Ruth and Susan invite contributions from scholars working across transnational contexts, professional contexts, and across disciplines. In order to enable dialogue between the key players in this topic - scholars, practitioners and activists - we encourage papers addressing any of the following:

i) empirical research - contributions from the cross section of disciplines studying GBV in universities, using both qualitative and quantitative methodology;

ii) conceptual pieces exploring different philosophical and theoretical perspectives on GBV activism in university contexts, and  ii) activist/advocate commentaries - contributions from practitioners, community and student activists about the rewards and tensions inherent in collaborations with universities to address GBV.

Authors are invited to submit abstracts of 250 words excluding references for articles. Authors of selected abstracts will be informed by mid September, with final drafts of each article to be submitted to the editors by mid May 2018.  Please submit abstracts to and Please clearly mark in the subject line that it is for submission to the VAW Special Issue. 

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