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Keynote by Laurel Westbrook: Fostering Fear: The Unintended Consequences of Identity-Based Anti-Violence Activism
6.5.2022 @ 10:15 – 12:00
Fostering Fear: The Unintended Consequences of Identity-Based Anti-Violence Activism
The vast majority of anti-violence activism in the United States occurs within the framework of identity politics. Identity-based movements, such as those to stop violence against people of color, women, and LGBT people, have become so commonplace as to seem to be a natural way to reduce violence. Moreover, these movements employ specific emotional strategies to try to gain attention for their cause within the social problems marketplace, including focusing on extreme and rare forms of violence. These approaches are widely used and accepted. However, what if they have unintended consequences that run counter to the goal of making lives more livable? In this talk Dr. Laurel Westbrook draws on the findings from their latest book, Unlivable Lives: Violence and Identity in Transgender Activism to explore this very question. Westbrook finds that the combination of identity politics, anti-violence work, and emotion tactics shapes group identity and proposed solutions in ways that can be unintentionally damaging to the very groups it aims to protect. This talk will detail these unintended consequences and then explore alternative ways of reducing violence against transgender people and making more lives livable.
Laurel Westbrook Bio
Laurel Westbrook is a Professor of Sociology at Grand Valley State University. Their research interests include gender, sexuality, violence, social movements, and surveys. Westbrook is the author of Unlivable Lives: Violence and Identity in Transgender Activism (2021, Berkeley: University of California Press). Their work has also been published in Gender & Society, Sexualities, and Socius, among others. Westbrook is also Co-Founder and Past Co-Chair of Sociologists for Trans Justice.
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