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Part II - Intimate and Gendered Violence

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  13 March 2020

Louise Edwards
University of New South Wales, Sydney
Nigel Penn
University of Cape Town
Jay Winter
Yale University, Connecticut
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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2020

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Bibliographical Essay

When Susan Brownmiller published Against Our Will: Men, Women and Rape (Harmondsworth: Penguin) in 1977, there were very few historical analyses of sexual violence. Today, there is a sophisticated historical literature on rape and other forms of sexualised violence. It is impossible in a short bibliographical essay to convey the depth and breadth of this literature. Many of the best works are published in journals rather than as monographs. For a historical analysis of perpetrators of sexual violence in Britain and America in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, see Bourke’s, Joanna Rape: A History from the 1860s to the Present (London: Virago, 2007). In the USA, it is published as Rape: Sex, Violence, History (New York: Shoemaker & Hoard, 2007). In the context of France, the best overview is Vigarello’s, Georges A History of Rape: Sexual Violence in France from the 16th to the 20th Century, trans. Jean Birrell (Malden, PA: Polity Press, 2001). The literature on rape in wartime is particularly rich. The best way to access this is through the website of Sexual Violence in Armed Conflicts (SVAC:, which has a comprehensive bibliography of the literature as well as extremely robust critiques of it. For insightful series of edited essays, see Branche, Raphaelle and Virgili’s, Fabrice Rape in Wartime (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012) and Herzog’s, Dagmar Brutality and Desire: War and Sexuality in Europe’s Twentieth Century (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009). For supreme examples of the way wartime rape is memorialised during and after conflicts, see Mark’s, James ‘Remembering Rape: Divided Social Memory and the Red Army in Hungary, 1944–1945’, Past & Present 188 (August 2005), 133–61, and Weaver, Gina Marie ’s Ideologies of Forgetting: Rape in the Vietnam War (Albany: SUNY Press, 2010). There is a vast historical, philosophical, legal and political literature focusing on the sexual violence during the war in the former Yugoslavia. For two useful analyses, see Campbell, Kirsten, ‘Legal Memories: Sexual Assault, Memory, and International Humanitarian Law’, Signs 28.1 (2002), 149–76, and Engle, Karen, ‘Feminism and its (Dis)contents: Criminalizing Wartime Rape in Bosnia and Herzegovina’, American Journal of International Law 99.4 (2005), 778816. Philosophical discussions of rape can be extremely helpful for historians: examples include Burgess-Jackson’s, Keith Rape: A Philosophical Investigation, (Aldershot: Dartmouth, 1996), Cahill, Ann J. ’s Rethinking Rape (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2001) and Gatens’s, Moira Imaginary Bodies: Ethics, Power and Corporeality (London: Routledge, 1996). Pamela Haag usefully problematises and historicises the concept of ‘consent’ in her Consent: Sexual Rights and the Transformation of American Culture (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1999). Finally, the following journals publish extensively on sexual violence from historical and contemporary perspectives: African Studies Review, Human Rights Quarterly, Journal of Genocide Research and Signs.

Bibliographical Essay

Primary sources on historical child sexual assault (CSA) are generally hidden in the archives, largely in court records, but also in medical records and archives from social workers, institutions and charities. Basic policing records are generally readily available in annual government reports, but these give only an overview. Detailed analysis requires archival research, in records that are generally not yet digitised.

The most readily available historical analysis on CSA in the past is from the Victorian period, especially from Britain. The best overview is Jackson, Louise, Child Sexual Abuse in Victorian England (London: Routledge, 2000), which covers all key aspects of CSA. A number of important studies examine girls and prostitution, including Walkowitz, Judith, City of Dreadful Delight: Narratives of Sexual Danger in Late Victorian London (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992). For an excellent overview of age of consent, see Waites, Matthew, The Age of Consent: Young People, Sexuality and Citizenship (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005).

In the United States, CSA is insightfully covered in Freedman, Estelle, Redefining Rape: Sexual Violence in the Era of Suffrage and Segregation (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2012), while Stephen Robertson has produced a definitive study of boys and girls in New York in his Crimes against Children: Sexual Violence and Legal Culture in New York City, 1880–1960 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2005). In Canada, see Backhouse, Constance, Carnal Crimes: Sexual Assault Law in Canada, 1900–1975 (Toronto: Osgoode Society, 2008). For Australia, Yorick Smaal has produced an excellent overview of the scholarship, see ‘Historical Perspectives on Child Sexual Abuse, Part 1 and 2’, History Compass 11.9 (2013), 702–26. There are far fewer sources on nineteenth-century child sexual assault in Africa, the Asia-Pacific or South America. There is influential analysis on colonial India, including but not only Sinha, Mrinalini, Colonial Masculinity: The ‘Manly Englishman’ and the ‘Effeminate Bengali’ (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1995).

There is not necessarily increased historical scholarship on CSA in the twentieth century. There are moments of in-depth analysis: the mid-century legislation and media panic around the ‘sexual psychopath’ is one key moment. A series of important works emerged in this period: Chauncey, G., ‘The Postwar Sex Crime Panic’, in William Graebner (ed.), True Stories from the American Past (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1993); Freedman, Estelle B., ‘“Uncontrolled Desires”: The Response to the Sexual Psychopath, 1920–1960’, Journal of American History 74.1 (1987), 83106; Chenier, Elise, Strangers in our Midst: Sexual Deviancy in Postwar Ontario (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2008). New work on Australia in the 1950s shows, however, that the prioritising of psychiatric understandings of offenders was not universal: see Featherstone, Lisa and Kaladelfos, Andy, Sex Crimes in the Fifties (Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 2016).

By the 1970s and 1980s, feminist research on CSA proliferated. Some, including Gordon’s, Linda Heroes of their Own Lives: The Politics and History of Family Violence, Boston 1880–1960 (London: Virago, 1989) considered earlier historical periods, but were heavily infiltrated with second-wave feminist ideas about violence and patriarchy. Further work on CSA was more present centred, with sociologists and various therapists producing qualitative and quantitative research, all being useful sources for the historian of the recent past. Other important historical studies engaged with the 1970s and 1980s as a transformative period, including Jenkins, Philip, Moral Panic: Changing Concepts of the Child Molester in Modern America (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1998).

More recently, there are multiple studies of CSA across all regions. UNICEF and WHO have produced compelling studies that examine CSA in both micro and macro perspectives, all of which are readily available online. Both WHO and UNICEF have prioritised studies in regions that have not always been covered by scholarship, including Africa, Asia and the Pacific. Importantly, governmental studies (including Australia’s national inquiry the Bringing Them Home Report and Canada’s Royal Commission into Aboriginal People) interrogate abuse of Indigenous children, showing sexual violence was common in state-run institutions. Other interrogations into institutions, including most notably the John Jay College study of the Catholic Church, highlight the vulnerability of children, and the lack of care for individual victims, that have now become a hallmark of a number of cultural institutions in the twentieth century. See Terry, Karen J. et al., The Causes and Context of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Catholic Priests in the United States, 1950–2010 (Washington, DC: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, 2011); Daly, K., Redressing Institutional Abuse of Children (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014).

Overall, there has been some exceptional scholarship detailing a hidden past of CSA in some nations. However, far more research is needed, in both developed and developing nations, to uncover more about the extent of CSA; its policing and judicial approaches; and outcomes for both offenders and victims.

Bibliographical Essay

The main syntheses of the long-term European history of homicide and serious violence are Muchembled, Robert, Une histoire de la violence de la fin du moyen âge à nos jours (Paris: Seuil, 2008) and Spierenburg, Pieter, A History of Murder: Personal Violence in Europe from the Middle Ages to the Present (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2008). In both books, for the period covered in this volume, see especially the later chapters. The bibliographies in these two books, taken together, constitute a more or less exhaustive list of publications up to 2006. Since then, a number of studies of murder and violence have appeared, focusing on the modern period in separate European countries. For Ireland: McMahon, Richard, Homicide in Pre-Famine and Famine Ireland (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2013). For the UK and Ireland: Carolyn, A. Conley, Certain Other Countries: Homicide, Gender and National Identity in Late Nineteenth-Century England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales (Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 2007). For France: Ferguson, Eliza Earle, Gender and Justice: Violence, Intimacy and Community in Fin‐de‐Siècle Paris (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2010). For Germany: Elder, Sace, Murder Scenes: Normality, Deviance and Criminal Violence in Weimar Berlin (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2010). For Belgium: Vrints, Antoon, Het theater van de straat: Publiek geweld in Antwerpen tijdens de 1e helft van de 20e eeuw (Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2011). Finally, for the USA: Roth, Randolph, American Homicide (Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press, 2009).

Studies of homicide and violence in non-Western countries include: Broadhurst, Roderic Bouhours, Thierry and Bouhours, Brigitte, Violence and the Civilising Process in Cambodia (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015); Johnson, Eric A., Salvatore, Ricardo D. and Spierenburg, Pieter (eds.), Murder and Violence in Modern Latin America (Chichester: Wiley, 2013); Santos, Martha S., Cleansing Honor with Blood: Masculinity, Violence and Power in the Backlands of North-East Brazil, 1845–1889 (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2012).

The main publications on the quantitative dimension of the history of homicide in modern Europe are Eisner, Manuel, ‘Modernity Strikes Back? A Historical Perspective on the Latest Increase in Interpersonal Violence, 1960–1990’, International Journal of Conflict and Violence 2.2 (2008), 289316; Aebi, Marcelo F. and Linde, Antonia, ‘The Persistence of Lifestyles: Rates and Correlates of Homicide in Western Europe from 1960 to 2010’, European Journal of Criminology 11 (2014), 552–77; Wittebrood, Karin and Nieuwbeerta, Paul, ‘Een kwart eeuw stijging in geregistreerde criminaliteit: Vooral meer registratie, nauwelijks meer criminaliteit’, Tijdschrift voor Criminologie 48.3 (2006), 227–42. A few publications include a quantitative analysis of homicide rates in the non-Western world: Baten, Joerg et al., ‘Personal Security since 1820’, in van Zanden, Jan Luiten, et al. (eds.), How Was Life? Global Well-Being since 1820 (Paris: OECD, 2014), pp. 139–58; Nayar, Baldev Raj, Violence and Crime in India: A Quantitative Study (Delhi: Macmillan Company of India, 1975).

For a general analysis of the global history of murder, see Pinker, Steven, The Better Angels of our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined (New York: Viking, 2011) and Spierenburg, Pieter, ‘Toward a Global History of Homicide and Organized Murder’, Crime, Histoire & Sociétés / Crime, History & Societies 18.2 (2014), 99116.

As to various themes in the history of serious interpersonal violence in modern Europe, recent studies have dealt notably with duelling: Ludwig, UlrikeKrug-Richter, Barbara and Schwerhoff, Gerd (eds.), Das Duell: Ehrenkämpfe vom Mittelalter bis zur Moderne (Konstanz: UVK Verlagsgesellschaft mbH, 2012); Hughes, Steven C., Politics of the Sword: Dueling, Honor and Masculinity in Modern Italy (Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 2007); Banks, Stephen, A Polite Exchange of Bullets: The Duel and the English Gentleman, 1750–1850 (Rochester, NY: Boydell Press, 2010); Matthey, Ignaz, Eer verloren, al verloren: het duel in de Nederlandse geschiedenis (Zutphen: Walburg Pers, 2012); Reyfman, Irina, Ritualized Violence Russian Style: The Duel in Russian Culture and Literature (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1999).

Concerning other specific themes in the history of serious interpersonal violence in modern Europe as well as the non-Western world, on the relationship with colonialism: Wiener, Martin J.An Empire on Trial: Race, Murder and Justice under British Rule, 1870–1935 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009); Kolsky, Elizabeth, Colonial Justice in British India (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010). On murder in connection with Indigenous beliefs: Murray, Colin and Sanders, Peter Basil, Medicine Murder in Colonial Lesotho: The Anatomy of a Moral Crisis (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2005); Pratten, David, The Man-Leopard Murders: History and Society in Colonial Nigeria (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2007). On the interrelationship with punishment: Spierenburg, Pieter, Violence and Punishment: Civilizing the Body through Time (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2013). On violence and drugs: David, T. Courtwright, Forces of Habit: Drugs and the Making of the Modern World (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1996).

Bibliographical Essay

In contrast to many of the other topics covered in this volume on the history of violence, scholars have not previously identified violence in sport as a discrete area of inquiry. There are, however, a number of different points of entry into the field. A good starting point is the field of sports history. Good recent introductions to the global history of sports can be found in Mangan, J. A. (ed.), Europe, Sport, World: Shaping Global Societies (London: Taylor & Francis, 2001), McComb, David G., Sports in World History (London: Routledge, 2004) and Hill, Jeffrey, Sport in History: An Introduction (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010).

Animal combat sports such as cockfighting and bullfighting have attracted some scholarly attention in recent years, though the literature is not extensive. The following works explore aspects of blood sports in Europe, the USA and China: Mitchell, Timothy J., Blood Sport: A Social History of Spanish Bullfighting (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1991), Griffin, Emma, England’s Revelry: A History of Popular Sports and Pastimes, 1660–1830 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005), Donlon, Jon Griffin, Bayou Country Bloodsport: The Culture of Cockfighting in Southern Louisiana (Jefferson: McFarland, 2013) and Cutter, Robert Joe, The Brush and the Spur: Chinese Culture and the Cockfight (Hong Kong: Chinese University Press, 1989).

The history of hunting has generally attracted more scholarly attention than blood sports, but this is not usually worked around the concept of violence. For an introduction see Griffin, Emma, Blood Sport: Hunting in Britain since 1066 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2007) and Hummel, Richard, Hunting and Fishing for Sport: Commerce, Controversy, Popular Culture (Bowling Green, KY: Bowling Green State University Popular Press, 1994).

The literature on the history of human combat sports is more extensive, though not all of it is academic in nature. Some good introductions to the history of boxing in the West may be found in Sugden, John, Boxing and Society: An International Analysis (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1996) and Boddy, Kasia, Boxing: A Cultural History (London: Reaktion Books, 2008). A good study on the history of women in boxing may be found in Smith, Malissa, A History of Women’s Boxing (Lanham, MD:  Rowman & Littlefield, 2014). For sumo wrestling in Japan see Cuyler, P. L., Sumo from Rite to Sport (New York: Weatherhill, 1979) and Bolitho, Harold, ‘Sumo and Popular Culture: The Tokugawa Period’, in McCormack, Gavan and Sugimoto, Yoshio (eds.), Modernisation and Beyond: The Japanese Trajectory (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998), pp. 1732. Like so much of the history of sport, Chinese martial arts have not attracted extensive scholarly attention in recent years, though articles by Stanley E. Henning provide an introduction. See, for example, Henning, Stanley E., ‘The Chinese Martial Arts in Historical Perspective’, Military Affairs 45.4 (1981), 173–9 and Henning, , ‘Chinese Martial Arts’, in Standen, Naomi (ed.), Demystifying China: New Understandings of Chinese History (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2012).

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