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Thursday, August 9, 2012

Professor MacDowell's Latest Article Forthcoming in the Journal of Gender, Race & Justice

The Boyd School of Law is very pleased to announce that Professor Elizabeth MacDowell’s latest article, “Theorizing from Particularity: Perpetrators, Performance & Intersectional Theory about Domestic Violence,” is forthcoming in Volume 16 of the Journal of Gender, Race & Justice.

As background, the role of identity-based stereotypes about perpetrators in outcomes to domestic violence cases has not received much attention in legal scholarship, which has focused instead on the identities of victims. Examining the perpetrator is necessary because stereotypes governing who is a recognizable victim cannot by themselves explain why nonconforming victims are sometimes successful and other, more “perfect” victims are not. Drawing on intersectionality theory, which examines the ways that experiences are shaped by the interaction of multiple identity categories, Professor MacDowell argues in her article that understanding this phenomenon requires examining the "other side": the perpetrator, recognition of whom is governed by intersecting identity stereotypes that parallel those affecting victims.

Part I of Professor MacDowell’s article introduces two illustrative domestic violence cases, and shows the ways in which conventional approaches to intersectional analysis of victims’ experiences cannot explain why unconventional victims sometimes win their cases while others do not. Part II proposes extending intersectionality theory about domestic violence with insights from legal scholarship on the intersectionality of heterosexual men of color, and performance theory, which allows for consideration of how identity is enacted by both victims and perpetrators in court. Part II also considers issues of relative privilege and subordination that arise from an analysis that includes perpetrators as well as victims. Part III examines the methodological implications of an extended intersectional frame, and the ways in which the analytical structure of theory about domestic violence can be further changed to support an analysis that is at once more particularized and more expansive in its explanatory power.

Congratulations, Elizabeth!