This project explores voice, activism and gender justice through a series of creative works, applied research & teaching. We connect gender and racial justice to amplify diverse voices & experiences.
- gender & sexuality
- racial justice
- sexual misconduct
This project explores voice, activism, and gender justice through a series of creative works, applied research, and teaching. As UVA responds to the ever-changing Title IX landscape and to the needs of an increasingly diverse community, we hear new opportunities to develop an intersectional approach to gender justice. To realize gender justice, we must trace the historical and ongoing entanglements between sexual violence and white supremacy. To achieve either gender justice or racial justice, a community must pursue the two projects together – at the same time – through a multifaceted collaboration. To pick just one example, we cannot identify just institutional approaches to rape, unless and until we confront the harms that a white supremacist legal regime has inflicted on men, as well as women, of color in these cases.
Led by faculty in the School of Law, College of Arts & Sciences, and Women’s Center, we bring together a collective of students, staff, faculty, lawyers, advocates, artists, and neighbors to explore female, queer, and other marginalized voices. We aim to amplify the timbre of individual voices and experiences of sexual violence in the struggle for gender justice. Law enforcement, UVA disciplinary structures, and (even) civil rights regimes follow adversarial models whose goal is to determine winners and losers. These institutional processes flatten out the actors’ lived experiences, erasing their nuances. Our project aims to allows diverse individuals to voice their experiences of sexual violence – and their experiences of existing institutional processes – and to amplify those voices so that others can hear them.
The law, on the books and as applied to actual cases, lies at the center of our project. Recent work on ‘acoustic jurisprudence’ reveals the law as always implicated in sound. We build on this interdisciplinary conversation by listening beyond legal narratives to consider how voice and ways of hearing shape moral and legal judgments, in courts and in public life. As scholars and advocates, we seek to understand the ways in which survivors and marginalized others resist, even as they are shaped by, these gendered and racist histories and practices. As artists we explore what it sounds and feels like for survivors to express themselves vocally, or to be silenced.
Our project's overarching aim is to build intersectional coalitions of UVA students, staff, and faculty committed to the movement for gender justice, to understanding the movement’s complex history, and to eliminating contemporary forms of gender violence at the University of Virginia and beyond
Our applied research project involves a collaboration with local advocates and community partners. For instance, working closely with the Shelter for Help in Emergency and the Sexual Assault Resource Agency, we will investigate experiences, resources, and accessibility issues for deaf survivors in Charlottesville to support new local programs for deaf and hearing-impaired people. Building on ongoing work by faculty in the School of Law to reform rape laws in Virginia, we will conduct research on the perspectives and stories of advocates and survivors as they move through the legal system, and on the ways in which Black and other marginalized men are attacked and vilified through longstanding, racist discourses around rape.
Through a series of creative and multimedia productions, including text, sound, and film, we investigate the stories that are untold in existing sexual violence scripts. We are already working on a short documentary on women’s voices in gender activism. Other creative work will include a storytelling series on advocates’ perspectives on voice and silence in legal and extralegal contexts; and a sound installation on ways of hearing female and queer voices in relation to perceptions of authority and truthfulness. Our aim is to excavate narratives of gender-based violence beyond the stock accounts manufactured by institutional and legal processes. Creative work through the project will explore the lived experiences of individuals within disciplinary systems, as both complainants and respondents, in order to understand what these legal processes feels like to various stakeholders. Our aim is to excavate narratives of gender-based violence beyond the stock accounts manufactured by institutional and legal processes.
Across the two-year timescale of the project, we will host public events to share findings and creative work. These include the following events:
- Monthly workshop series for faculty, graduate and professional students to investigate case-studies and explore theoretical concepts, through Years 1 and 2
- Public events series led by the Women’s Center to screen creative productions and moderate panel discussions, across Years 1 and 2
- Increased faculty dialogue on intersections of struggles for gender justice and racial justice, with University-wide events at end of Year 1 and Year 2
- Two one-day interdisciplinary symposia, at the ends of Year 1 and Year 2. The symposia will be largely internal across Schools in order to share research findings, fuse curricular and co-curricular activities, and build coalitions
We will co-teach two new courses related to the project, one at the undergraduate level and one at the graduate / professional level. Students in these courses will have the opportunity to work directly on parts of the project, in helping to conduct research and work on creative projects. In addition, we will hire and train five dedicated undergraduate and graduate / professional students as research assistants on the project. Our student research assistants, as well as students in the related classes, will also create and maintain a website on the history of gender and queer activism and the struggle for gender justice at UVA. Students will also help develop a Gender Justice at UVA syllabus and reading list, in Year 1, to be shared widely.