The Gender, Place and Culture Jan Monk Distinguished Lecture by Rachel Pain: Collective trauma: isolating and commoning gender-based violence

Type: Paper
Sponsor Groups: Feminist Geographies Specialty Group
Poster #:
Day: 4/7/2020
Start / End Time: 4:00 PM / 5:15 PM
Room: Plaza Ballroom D, Sheraton, Concourse Level
Organizers: Lena Grip, Lise Nelson
Chairs: Christopher Lukinbeal


Gender, Place and Culture (GPC) arrange the Annual Jan Monk Distinguished Lecture.

The lecture will be given by Rachel Pain, Professor of Human Geography at Newcastle University

Collective trauma: isolating and commoning gender-based violence

This paper focuses on key tensions between individual and collective experiences, responses and concepts in gender-based violence (GBV). The isolation of survivors is not just ‘how it is’, but a condition both created and exploited by perpetrators, and buttressed by social perceptions and practices. The generation of solidarity amongst survivors and consciousness among wider publics so that GBV can be made known as a collective experience of structural oppression has been a core part of feminist movements. Here I consider whether and how we can think of GBV in terms of collective trauma, as some scholarship and recent social movements suggest; a concept more widely used in Black and postcolonial literatures to describe the social and communal nature of the long afterwards/ongoing present of structural forms of trauma. I draw on a participatory action research project conducted with a group of domestic abuse survivors that used discussion, drawing and song to identify both how isolating functions and the many levels of communal experience that counter it: from the role of others in the processes of trauma and survival, to the growing sense of collective identity that interventions (including our research) sometimes help to enable. However, there are also discontinuities and dangers in analysis of collective trauma, especially clear through engaging a spatial lens. The paper ends with reflecting instead on the utility of commoning to connect forms of resistance to violences across time and space, a concept that is better able to contain diverse and uneven experiences. In our research, commoning offers not just an alternative promise of rebuilding, reclaiming and repossessing space for survivors, but a map of what already happens.


Type Details Minutes Start Time
Introduction Lena Grip Karlstad University 5 4:00 PM
Introduction Lise Nelson University of Arizona - Geography & Development 5 4:05 PM
Presenter Rachel Pain*, Newcastle University, Collective trauma: isolating and commoning gender-based violence 55 4:10 PM
Discussant Dana Cuomo Lafayette College 10 5:05 PM

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