Mapping rape culture: Nation and the struggle for social justice

Authors: Alex Fanghanel*, University of Greenwich
Topics: Sexuality, Social Geography
Keywords: rape culture, sexuality, nation, social justice
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/6/2019
Start / End Time: 5:00 PM / 6:40 PM
Room: Forum Room, Omni, West
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


On December 31st 2016 throngs of men profited from the New Year’s festivities to sexually molest women revellers. At the time, it was widely reported in the press that the attackers of these women were predominantly men who were black and foreign. Initially, men seeking asylum from Syria were blamed for the attacks, subsequently it was suggested that many of these perpetrators were from North Africa. These attacks, in Cologne and in other parts of Germany, sparked nationalist backlashes which continue to reverberate around Europe. This paper explores how this manifested itself into a form of cartography of migrant sex crime against women which has since been used to mobilise ideologies of state and of belonging and of ressentiment, not least in pro-Brexit, pro-Trump, populist discourses. Across the spectrum of the political right and the political left rhetoric about the female body – violated by the Black Other – has been mobilised as both crucible and synecdoche for the forging of a vision of nationhood. This paper considers some of the implications of the discourses expressed here, which mobilise the figure of the woman-as-victim and enshrines rape culture within the fabric of the nation. ​

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