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This Week's Topic
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Where and when
On Friday, March 29th, 2013 at 2:00pm Brittany Rae Leach will present her work "SlutWalk and Sovereignty: Transnational Protest as Emergent Global Democracy" at Globis Center.
A critical challenge for contemporary political thought is to grapple with the ways emerging forms of political practice contest traditional understandings of sovereignty. In order to investigate this, I analyze SlutWalk, which began as a local protest against a Toronto police officer’s statement that women should not dress like sluts if they do not want to be victimized by rape and rapidly expanded into an anti-sexual violence movement spanning six continents. I weave an empirical examination of the SlutWalk phenomena with a theoretical interpretation. Empirically, I map the evolution and spread of the protest using first-person accounts by protestors, news media articles, photographs, and video. I also recount the movement’s internal debates, including criticisms that SlutWalk harbors racial bias as well as objections to the tactic of reclaiming language. I compare the first SlutWalk to the re-interpretations of the movement in other places and find that while the same anti-sexual violence messages are reiterated by all SlutWalks, the way these messages are conveyed are adjusted to fit the local culture. Theoretically, I contend that transnational protests cannot be comprehended within the paradigm of modern state sovereignty because they involve the coordination of political activity across national borders. To think through transnational protest, I suggest a conception of post-national democracy which centers the importance of values, practice, and identification. I argue that the modern state system is at a transitional point in which the mythos and the material power of the nation-state remain, yet new ways of practicing politics and organizing political authority are beginning to transpire. Additionally, I investigate the relationship between individual and state sovereignty, using SlutWalk’s understandings of consent and bodily autonomy to open up new ways of thinking about international and interpersonal relations.