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School of Geography

FWSA Biennial Conference 2015

Everyday Encounters with Violence: Critical Feminist Perspectives

09–11 September 2015

Stage@Leeds, University of Leeds

The detailed conference programme, and full abstracts, are available here.

This three-day conference aims to create an inclusive and supportive space for scholars at all career levels to come together in a supportive environment to engage in critical feminist perspectives on violence. We draw upon a wide definition of violence from sources in the arts, humanities and social sciences, seeing this both as an everyday social force inflicting harm, suffering, grief and trauma and as a transformative force that produces gendered agency, social action and resistance. We will examine violence as embedded in the very fabric of everyday life via gendered encounters with for example – modernity, neoliberalism, sovereign power, rule of law, globalization, technology, as well as institutional, popular and everyday cultures. We foresee a range of different types of sessions fostered in this conference. In addition to traditional plenary and paper sessions, we are looking to include practitioner panels, performative workshops, talking circles and world café style interactions between participants. As a conference critically engaged with the academic community and civil society, we will also be live tweeting and hosting dedicated conference bloggers among the FWSA membership. 

On the basis of the above rationale, we discern three (not mutually exclusive) key themes, on which we invite conceptual, methodological and/or empirical papers across disciplines and gender practices. We are particularly interested in papers that discuss these issues through in-depth focus on empirical contexts across the world.

Social difference, justice and violence of everyday life

  • Gendered violence and informal justic
  • Religious intolerance and cultural violence
  •  Violence of heterosexuality and homophobia
  • Representations and narratives of violence

Bodies and biopolitics of violence

  • Biopolitics of violence
  • Borders, bodies, violence and (in)security
  • Violence as a threat and resource for feminist politics
  • Eroticism and intimate violence

Landscapes, spaces and scales of violence

  • Spatialities of violence
  • Violence in/of development
  • Feminist politics around violence, anti-violence and non-violence
  • Feminist encounters with neoliberalism and structural violence

Please submit a max. 300-word abstract, max. 100-word bio and further requested details via the online submission form by 01 December 2014.

Keynote speakers and abstracts

Wednesday 9 September 08:30-09:15AM
Dr Igea Troiani
School of Architecture
Oxford Brookes University

His House, Our House or Her House?

Debate about women's involvement in the construction industry emerged in the 1980s. Commissioned around ten years later His House or Our House? (Lowe and Byrne, 1993) - a UK report documenting women's membership into the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) - showed that the number was steadily increasing. Still, there was an inverse story in which those women surveyed suffered discrimination and workplace violence (CIOB, 1995). Women's wellbeing in architecture was a problem too. Funded research by the R.I.B.A. (De Graft-Johnson et al., 2003) and the R.A.I.A. (Stead et al., 2014) reveals continuing acts of violence, which lead to women leaving the profession. Dragged along by the masculine dominated landscape of the construction site, women architects remain discontented (Fowler and Wilson, 2004). According to Helene Cixous (1976: 875) the space in which women flourish in the world is one that only women can generate. Accepting this, the optimal space for women's wellbeing in construction cannot, I argue, be found within established workplace models of patriarchy (His House), nor are they about defining (Our House - a converted version of His House). Instead I argue for a 'third space', "a space of position outside [...], a place that doesn't yet exist" (Grosz, 2001), or what I call Her House. In this presentation I will screen two of my architecture essay films. A Day in the Life of Sarah Murray (2015) is a documentary about a successful woman Building Contractor in the UK. Illegal Architect (2014) is a futuristic dystopian animated sci-fi short that shows the frustration of a woman architect at work. Through an explanation of the motives of the films - to make visual women's professional hopelessness and hopefulness - I aim to discuss how being disciplined versus undisciplined (Marshall and Bleecker, 2010) can affect establishing Her House.

Wednesday 9 September 09:30-10:15AM
Dr Mo Hume
School of Social and Political Sciences
University of Glasgow

Listening to the Silences: Towards a Feminist Analysis of Everyday Violence in Central America

Latin America is affected by the highest homicide rate in the world for non-conflict zones and rates of interpersonal violence are extreme, if vastly underreported (Moser and McIlwaine, 2004; 2014; Auyero, 2015). Both national and international organisations have recommended that a gendered perspective should be 'integral; and 'crosscutting' in policies to promote citizen security in the region (UNDP, 2014). However, mainstream violence debates remain characterized by their silence on gender issues. Enduring gendered silences have implications for how we analyse, as well as what we analyse as violence. Feminist researchers have long challenged the gendered silences and masculinist bias in scholarly research on violence (e.g. Kelly and Radford, 1990; Artexaga, 1997; True, 2014). Much of this work has understandably been concerned with 'breaking the silence' in order to provide a framework for women to be able to 'name' gendered forms of violence (e.g. Kelly, 1988; Cavanagh et al., 2001). In this paper, I tentatively explore a feminist analysis of everyday violence. I am interested in drawing feminist connections between the different 'types' of violence that shape everyday life and I draw on longitudinal ethnographic research from El Salvador. I argue that silences and silencing both shape and are shaped by the violent everyday, particularly for subaltern groups. Without 'listening' to these everyday silences, our understanding of violence and its effects are necessarily limited. The paper will demonstrate that by attending to silences and the practices of silencing, we are better placed to understand the connections between everyday forms of violence and the intersecting relations of power that underpin these.

Thursday 10 September 08:30-9:15AM
Professor Rachel Pain
Department of Geography
Durham University

Scaling Everyday Violence

This paper offers a review and agenda for feminist geographical perspectives on violence. These perspectives critically question the categories and scales that commonly shape experience and analysis of violence, such as public/private, global/intimate and political/personal violence. Recent research demonstrates that violence is always intertwined across scale; 'international' and 'intimate' violences gain potency and persistence precisely because they are rooted elsewhere. Drawing on examples of everyday terrorism, intimate war and institutional sexual violence as sites where these geographies make a crucial difference, the paper discusses how gender, sexuality, race, class, nation and citizenship are remade through everyday encounters with violence.

Thursday 10 September 09:30-10:15AM
Professor Marianne Hester OBE
School for Policy Studies
University of Bristol

Reflections on Feminist Perspectives and Gendered Violence

The paper revisits the work of Kate Millett in Sexual Politics (1969) and the possible relevance of this work for contemporary understandings of 'everyday' violence.  Millett provided some of the earliest 'Second Wave' theorising of gendered violence, and set the scene for many of the ensuing debates from the 1970s and beyond. Her work, while rooted in the critique of literature (of novels by Norman Mailer, Henry Miller and Jean Genet), provided a 'theory of sexual politics' and analysis of gendered power and sexuality that has in many respects formed the basis of feminist perspectives involving gendered mechanisms of power and violence against women (Hester, 2014). Millett presented a framework in which gendered relations of power are perceived as explicitly sexual, and thus paved the way for theorising of links between power, sexuality and violence (MacKinnon, 1982). Sexual Politics provides detailed examination of 'patriarchy' as a complex, dynamic, and ever changing phenomenon, where the forms of everyday violence may change across time and space, but continue to play a part in the construction and reconstruction of gendered power. Her work pre-dates and, it could be argued, to some extent underpins later feminist perspectives on positionality, intersectionality and their relationship to gendered violence (Cockburn, 2007; Donovan and Hester, 2014). I will explore the relevance of Kate Millett's Sexual Politics (1969) as it has been incorporated into, or resisted, within theory and action on gendered violence, and whether threads of her notions concerning gendered inequalities and everyday violence can perhaps be discerned in global policies around GBV. There has recently been emergence of a 'third wave' of UK feminist action against gendered violence, and renewed interest in theorising GBV, and the paper will finish by considering the possible contribution of Millett's emphasis on the 'sexual' in everyday violence within this current context.

Registration and Conference details


Non-FWSA members: £200
FWSA members: £150
Postgraduate students: £150

Earlybird registration is available until Sunday 31st May.Registration closes Sunday 2nd August. Please visit the Online Store to register.

To visit the FWSA's conference website please click here (opens external website).

The detailed conference programme, and full abstracts, are available here.


Apart from a number of hotels in the area, limited accommodation will be available in the University of Leeds on a first-come first-served basis. A limited number of places are available in Storm Jameson (single room en-suite accommodation located on campus) for £50pppn.


We are keen to ensure that the conference is inclusive and accessible to as wide a variety of people as possible and therefore have included provisions for on-site (subsidised) childcare and a range of accessibility needs. To request more details or find out if we can cater for your specific access needs please contact geo-fwsa(at)  

Please contact Ayona Datta A.Datta(at) or Martin Zebracki M.M.Zebracki(at) with expressions of interest in being part of these events and to add your name to our email list where we will circulate information and regular updates related to the conference.

Organising Committee: 

  • Ayona Datta
  • Martin Zebracki
  • Deirdre Conlon
  • Emma Kerry

Conference Support: 

  • Alison Suckall
  • Emma Sanderson