Organized Session, Workshop or Roundtable Title

Ethnographies of Violence

Participation Type

Organized Session

Participant Type

Multi-presenter

Organized Session, Workshop or Roundtable Abstract

This session has been convened by the Southern Anthropological Society.

Organizer

Robin Conley, SAS Convener

Type of Session

Paper

Presentation #1 Title

Rape Myths, 'Regret Sex', and Retaliation: Sexual Assault on a College Campus in Ethnographic Perspective

Presentation #1 Abstract

In recent years campus sexual assault has become more prominent in the public conversation in response to high profile cases in the media and evolving federal government policies. College administrators struggle to incorporate Title IX provisions intended to strengthen reporting and prevention, while the national debate continues over what should constitute “best practices”. At individual campuses, students contend with a mix of normalizing and contesting discourses that in turn may isolate, demonize, or empower survivors. Research that focuses on the local campus culture illuminates the everyday lived experience of sexual violence and the aftermath. The ethnographic research described in this paper examines the culture of sexual assault at a small liberal arts college. The paper briefly reviews survey data to characterize the college vis-à-vis nationwide findings. It then goes on to provide a portrait based on ethnographic interviews with eight women students, as well as participant-observation by the two student co-authors. The data indicate a growing awareness of sexual assault as an issue, suggesting effective education efforts. Yet common rape myths remain entrenched, weakening victims’ voices and limiting the success of interventions. Victim-blaming and charges of “regret sex” dominate reflections on sexual assault. Retaliation against students claiming assault is common. Students perceived as “high status” are more likely to be given benefit of the doubt. Some hope is reserved for training students in bystander intervention techniques, though views are mixed on how successful they can be. The authors end by presenting recommendations based on student experiences and perceptions.

At-A-Glance Bios- Participant #1

Scott London, PhD teaches anthropology at Randolph-Macon College.

Katie Terhune is a student at Randolph-Macon College.

Alexandra Sims is a student at Randolph-Macon College.

Presentation #2 Title

Educated to Kill: An Ethnography of Southern Rural Hunters

Presentation #2 Abstract

Throughout the world animal rights activists are working to end animal cruelty. Their focus is usually the acts of cruelty, and less so, the perpetrators of them. In this paper I reveal the thoughts and feelings of rural southern hunters and their rationales for killing. Employing a phenomenological perspective, I explain how hunters experience themselves before, during, and after the hunt, paying particular attention to the role of cultural models of masculinity and the ways in which young hunters are enculturated. Hunters tend to justify killing by tying the hunt to tradition and family values, survival, and even community service. Understanding hunters’ motives is useful in comprehending other acts of animal cruelty. My research is also useful in developing a strategy to defend the rights of animals. This research shows that there is a time in young boys’ lives when they feel pain and remorse for killing animals. Inevitably, however, they are pressured into continuing to kill by older men whom they admire, by men who validate them by turning animate wildlife into inanimate wall trophies.

At-A-Glance Bios- Participant #2

Ashlie Prain is an Junior Anthropology Major with a Philosophy Minor in Environmental Studies.

Presentation #3 Title

Narratives and Experiences of Trauma: The language of veterans' combat stories

Presentation #3 Abstract

This paper will address an ongoing research project that aims to improve veterans of current military conflicts’ transition into post-deployment life. The project investigates the experiences of US combat veterans who have been engaged in or responsible for the loss of life, specifically examining the role of narrative in how veterans experience and later process acts of killing during combat. Researchers have recognized that the inability to construct a coherent narrative of a traumatic experience can stymie recovery from the trauma (Brison 2002). Few have identified, however, the cultural and linguistic shapes of those coherent (master-)narratives that are thought to enable recovery. Military members are socialized into culturally-informed master-narratives about violence and killing that enable them to take life in combat situations. After experiencing trauma in combat, however, many lose the ability to re-tell traumatic events according to these master-narratives. To map this narrative terrain, this paper examines the linguistic structures of interviews with veterans who have served since the commencement of Operation Desert Shield (1990), with a focus on post-9/11 conflicts. In addition to aiding understanding of contemporary combat experiences, the paper aims to advance understanding of the detailed connections between narrative construction and trauma, as well as further knowledge of the cultural narratives that justify current military actions and state-sanctioned violence more broadly.

At-A-Glance Bios- Participant #3

Robin Conley is Assistant Professor of Anthropology in Marshall’s Sociology & Anthropology Department. She specializes in the fields of legal and linguistic anthropology. Dr. Conley has conducted ethnographic research on death penalty trials across Texas, investigating how the use of language shapes jurors’ experiences during trials and impacts their life and death decisions. Her book manuscript, under contract with Oxford University Press, specifically explores how jurors use language to counter moments of empathy they share with defendants, thereby justifying their decisions for death. Her explorations into the connections among language, empathy, and violence in law engage with ongoing debates in law and society and language and culture, especially regarding American ideologies of democracy and lay judging. Her previous research focused on the construction of gendered identity within legal and medical setting

Presentation #4 Title

We Promise Not to Cry: Overcoming Sexism in STEM Fields

Presentation #4 Abstract

In November 2014, NASA landed the Rosetta spacecraft on a comet 500 million kilometers from earth, an outstanding technological and scientific achievement. Yet when prominent NASA scientist Matt Taylor was interviewed and broadcasted worldwide, he was wearing a shirt covered in nearly naked women, prompting the debate known as "shirtstorm." As the world celebrated the technological marvel of Rosetta, women in sciences were forcefully reminded that they are to remain a part of the decor. Less than a year later, Nobel Prize winning biochemist Tim Hunt called for gender segregation in scientific laboratories, stating "Three things happen when [women] are in the lab: You fall in love with them, they fall in love with you and when you criticize them, they cry." In an era where the need for feminism is questioned, women in STEM fields are consistently and aggressively reminded to resume their place on the sidelines, supporting the men who do the work. This atmosphere, which research has shown leads to fewer female scientists hired by academic institutions as well as large pay gaps between genders, simultaneously disenfranchises female scientists currently in the field while discouraging young women to pursue a profession in STEM. To facilitate significant change, women will have to zealously pursue a meaningful discourse throughout all major scientific disciplines. Through the lens of John Berger's "Ways of Seeing," this paper will address the systematic disenfranchisement of women in sciences as well as address "fourth wave" feminism's role in confronting the problem.

At-A-Glance Bios- Participant #4

Amanda Smythers is an undergraduate biology student and conducts biochemistry research on increasing algal lipid production for use in biofuels. She plans on pursuing an M.S. in Chemistry at Marshall following graduation.

Keywords

Conflict and War, Discourse, Ethnography, Gender, Linguistic Anthropology, Masculinity, Narrative, Trauma, Violence

Start Date

4-8-2016 1:30 PM

End Date

4-8-2016 3:00 PM

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Apr 8th, 1:30 PM Apr 8th, 3:00 PM

Rape Myths, 'Regret Sex', and Retaliation: Sexual Assault on a College Campus in Ethnographic Perspective

Big Sandy Conference Center - Tech Room 03

In recent years campus sexual assault has become more prominent in the public conversation in response to high profile cases in the media and evolving federal government policies. College administrators struggle to incorporate Title IX provisions intended to strengthen reporting and prevention, while the national debate continues over what should constitute “best practices”. At individual campuses, students contend with a mix of normalizing and contesting discourses that in turn may isolate, demonize, or empower survivors. Research that focuses on the local campus culture illuminates the everyday lived experience of sexual violence and the aftermath. The ethnographic research described in this paper examines the culture of sexual assault at a small liberal arts college. The paper briefly reviews survey data to characterize the college vis-à-vis nationwide findings. It then goes on to provide a portrait based on ethnographic interviews with eight women students, as well as participant-observation by the two student co-authors. The data indicate a growing awareness of sexual assault as an issue, suggesting effective education efforts. Yet common rape myths remain entrenched, weakening victims’ voices and limiting the success of interventions. Victim-blaming and charges of “regret sex” dominate reflections on sexual assault. Retaliation against students claiming assault is common. Students perceived as “high status” are more likely to be given benefit of the doubt. Some hope is reserved for training students in bystander intervention techniques, though views are mixed on how successful they can be. The authors end by presenting recommendations based on student experiences and perceptions.