The Center for the Study of Social Difference, as part of its Reframing Gendered Violence project in the Women Creating Change initiative, presents a panel on "Interrogating culture-based explanations for violence against women," with support from ISERP. Thursday, January 25 4:30 - 6:00 PM, Case Lounge, Jerome Green Hall, Columbia University School of Law.
The Western Pacific nation of Papua New Guinea (PNG) is a dangerous place to be a woman. Over the course of their lifetime, over half of the women in the country will be raped or assaulted. Externally generated analyses of this state of affairs have tended to attribute the causes of violence to traditional society and culture. These explanations for violence tend to replicate colonial narratives about savagery and warfare and often fail to take the state of the modern nation-state of Papua New Guinea into account. This panel will locate violence in the country in the broader political and economic context of a resource boom economy, a highly missionized population, and a level of rural and urban poverty that is severe. We will also examine the broader tendency for well-meaning international activists and watch groups to explain violence with reference to so-called ‘traditional culture’ and the counter-productive results of these interventions.