Atelier Genre(s) et Sexualité(s) « Scripting Battered Women : Paths Not Taken »
by Kelli Moore, Steinhardt College, New York University
This talk is part of Kelli Moore’s longer book-length project on legal and extra-legal debates over the subject of trauma and helplessness. In this presentation, she demonstrates surprising links between psychologists Lenore Walker, Martin Seligman, Silvan Tomkins, and Frantz Fanon – who briefly shared an institutional and intellectual milieu in the 1960s and 70s. This shared context, she argues, is a significant yet little remarked aspect of the archival landscape of domestic violence. The talk assumes an explicitly speculative posture to ask how we might understand domestic violence differently if Lenore Walker’s famous theory of the battered woman syndrome had explicitly followed Tomkins’ work rather than the theory of learned helplessness put forward by the American psychologist of motivation, Martin Seligman. Both Seligman and Tomkins engaged in writing practices that repeatedly figured the black American in analyses of passive subjectivity (Seligman) and the distress object (Tomkins). In contrast, Walker’s initial study of battered women excluded black participants. In a related set of speculations, Moore enlists the work of psychiatrist Frantz Fanon—whose preoccupations included the structure of the colonial mind, Negritude, and the significance placed on anticolonial violence—to chart a cybernetic route to theorizing the “forensic subject.”
Kelli Moore is Assistant Professor of Media, Culture, Communication at NYU. She examines the role of media technology in the production of legal and political knowledge. Her ethnographic research on courtroom mediation examines the role of the image in facilitating the performance of witness testimony in domestic violence cases. She is writing a monograph that draws on black feminist thought, legal philosophy and visual culture to analyze courtroom rhetorical practices/haptic customs within ongoing debates about the subject of trauma and helplessness, facilitated communication, feminist jurisprudence, visual literacy, “post-racial” embodiment and digitality. Before joining MCC Kelli earned her Ph.D. in Communication at the University of California, San Diego. She is an alumna of the University of California President’s Postdoctoral Fellowship Program (Rhetoric, Berkeley). Her publications may be found at Anglistica, Feminist Surveillance Studies and Reviews in Cultural Theory.
Tuesday 17 January from 6 until 8 pm
Institut de Sociologie
Room Henri Janne (15th floor)
Avenue Jeanne 44 – 1050 Brussels