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Dealing with Difficult Topics: Theoretical and Methodological Challenges in the Study of Post-War Sexual Violence

Muirhead - Room 113
Wednesday 19 September 2018 (12:00-13:30)

Cecilia Davis:


The ICCS Seminar Series continues on Wednesday 19 September 2018 with guest speaker Dr Ulrike Theuerkauf from the University of East Anglia.

Listen to a podcast of this seminar below:

It has been well established that the systematic use of mass sexual violence during wartime leads to a number of negative consequences, including inter alia physical and psychological damage to the victim, and the destruction of family ties and group solidarity (Card 1996; Diken and Bagge Laustsen 2005; Solangon and Patel 2012). To date, however, little has been written on the motivations behind systematic sexual violence by occupying forces in a post-war context, and hardly anything is known about the long-term consequences such sexual violence might have for the political development of communities. Inspired by recent research that investigates the negative long-term effects of historical events on whole communities – for example, historical slavery has been found to depress modern electoral participation and trust levels (Acharya et al 2015; Nunn and Wantchekon 2011) – we theorise that communities which were most exposed to systematic post-war sexual violence are likely to carry the legacy of these events over several generations in terms of public perceptions about women’s position in politics, society and associated policy preferences. In our attempt to test this theory empirically, we have been spending nearly two years trying to collect direct and proxy data on post-war sexual violence in Berlin after 1945.

This talk will present our theoretical framework and some preliminary findings, and put particular focus on the challenges of data access and availability, their implications for the academic debate on different forms of political violence and our lessons for how we study conceptually and empirically“difficult topics”.

By Dr Mona Morgan-Collins, Assistant Professor in Comparative Quantitative Politics at Durham University, and Dr Ulrike Theuerkauf, Lecturer in Politics and International Development at the University of East Anglia.

All welcome

About Ulrike Theuerkauf 

Ulrike Theuerkauf is Lecturer in Politics and International Development in the School of International Development at the University of East Anglia (UEA). Her research deals with the causes and consequences of large-scale political violence, with a particular focus on the effects of formal and informal political institutions on the risk of ethnic civil wars. Her work has been published in academic journals such as Civil Wars, Ethnopolitics, Comparative Political Studies and Electoral Studies, and she is currently involved in UEA- and ESRC-funded projects on the long-term consequences of post-war sexual violence in Germany, dynamics of anti-immigration attitudes in the UK and peace building through bottom-up initiatives in Colombia. Before joining UEA in January 2015, she has held teaching and research positions at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet Munich, the University of Warwick and the LSE.

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