The University of Newcastle, Australia

Call for symposium papers: Sexual Violence, Medicine and Psychiatry

Monday, 3 June 2019

Call for papers for symposium on Sexual Violence, Medicine and Psychiatry.

The Centre for the History of Violence will host the International, Interdisciplinary Symposium on the Relationship Between Medicine, Psychiatry, and Sexual Violence to be held 16-17 April 2020 at the University of Newcastle. View the call for papers (PDF 417KB).

Proposal submissions are invited from any region of the world and any humanities/arts/social science discipline (i.e. includes history, sociology, law, philosophy, medical humanities, anthropology, art and visual culture, etc.). The emphasis is on any period from the late eighteenth century to the present.

Co-organiser of the symposium and Centre for History of Violence Director, Professor Philip Dwyer said abstract submissions for individual 20-minute papers, as well as proposals for panel discussions, and other modes of presentation are welcome.

“We also invite graduate researchers, and particularly encourage interdisciplinary, cross-cultural, and international submissions,” he said.

Symposium co-organiser and Global Innovation Chair at the University of Newcastle, Professor Joanna Bourke said the symposium will explore the role of medical professionals in debates about sexual violence.

“Police doctors and forensic medical examiners, GPs, gynaecologists, surgeons, nurses, midwives, prison surgeons, psychiatrists, and therapists working in all forms of institutional and community settings have been influential agents in the interpretation, medicalisation, and adjudication of sexual attacks,” she said.

“This is an important time to investigate the relationship between medical professionals and sexual violence. Scandals around medical and psychiatric responses to sexual abuse emerge on a regular basis (viz. Nauru detention camp; the abuse of people in psychiatric wards, prison, and detention camps; failures to send the biological samples from ‘rape kits’ for forensic examination; complaints about medical examinations; popular anxieties about the medical treatment and rehabilitation of violent offenders). This symposium seeks to promote human health through providing insights into the role of medicine and psychiatry in understanding sexual violence,” Professor Bourke said.

Areas of interest for papers and panel proposals include, but are not limited to:

  • The role of medicine and psychiatry in understanding, interpreting, facilitating, treating, prosecuting, and preventing sexual violence.
  • Medical jurisprudence and forensic medicine in relation to sexual violence.
  • The training of medical professionals in how to respond to men, women, and children reporting sexual assault.
  • The processes by which medical evidence is built into legal narratives for use by the prosecution or defence.
  • Psychiatry classifications of perpetrators of sexual violence.
  • The rise of psychiatric notions of rape trauma and their effects.
  • Psychiatric or medical approaches to the sexual assault of trans or queer people.
  • The role of medicine and psychiatry in anti-rape activism.

For papers and panel proposals, please submit an abstract of no more than 350 words, as well as a brief CV and 100-word biography.

Deadline for submission is Monday, 25 November 2019.

Please direct submissions and questions to Ms. Rhea Sookdeosingh. Accepted participants will be notified in mid-January 2020.


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