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Restorative justice, intersectionality theory and domestic violence : epistemic problems in indigenous… de Freitas, Bruno Osmar Vergini 2011

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RESTORATIVE JUSTICE, INTERSECTIONALITY THEORY AND DOMESTIC VIOLENCE: EPISTEMIC PROBLEMS IN INDIGENOUS SETTINGS  by Bruno Osmar Vergini de Freitas  A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF LAWS in The Faculty of Graduate Studies  THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA (Vancouver) April 2011  © Bruno Osmar Vergini de Freitas, 2011 	
    Abstract	
  	
   This thesis problematizes the use of feminist intersectionality theory within the context of the restorative justice social movement as applied in cases of violence against women in culturally heterogeneous settings. I argue that there is an imbalanced anti-essentialist tendency in some intersectional approaches to restorative justice (RJ) and domestic violence that slides toward gender underestimation, ultimately, leading to a phenomenon defined by feminist scholar Kimberlé Crenshaw: intersectional disempowerment. This position threatens the epistemological and critical stances of that feminist analytical tool for understanding racialized women’s needs for security, offender accountability and empowerment at an individual level in situations of domestic violence. In addition, the existence of competing analytical categories in intersectional analysis and multicultural drives obscure pre-existing patriarchal relations in Indigenous communities applying RJ as remedial justice, i.e., intra-group gender inequality and allows cooptation of the intersectionality theory by ethnocultural non-emancipatory political interests. This poses potential detrimental consequences to racialized women dealing with some RJ interventions like alienation, exclusion and the silencing of victims' individual histories, reinforcing the fact that the representation of the individual female victim within the RJ movement has not been adequately resolved and remains deeply problematic. To illustrate my arguments, I focus on sentencing circles that are used ostensibly as state-sanctioned alternative criminal justice responses designed to ameliorate the systemic racism and over-incarceration rates that Aboriginal peoples experience in postcolonial jurisdictions such as Canada and Australia. I argue that these restorative-like experience are especially vulnerable to intersectional disempowerment. In these RJ models, it becomes unclear whether intersectional approaches can sustain the particular needs and interests of victimized women. 	
    ii	
    Table	
  of	
  Contents	
  	
    	
    	
    Abstract.................................................................................................................................. ii	
   Table	
  of	
  Contents .................................................................................................................. iii	
   Acknowledgements ................................................................................................................ v	
   Dedication ............................................................................................................................. vi	
   Introduction ........................................................................................................................... 1	
   1.	
   Topic:	
  Restorative	
  justice,	
  intersectionality	
  theory	
  co-­‐optation	
  and	
  violence	
  against	
  women ..... 1	
   2.	
   Thesis	
  structure ................................................................................................................................................................ 5	
   3.	
   Caveat,	
  topic	
  developments	
  and	
  literature	
  review............................................................................................ 7	
   4.	
   A	
  brief	
  word	
  on	
  the	
  co-­‐optation	
  of	
  the	
  feminist	
  anti-­‐violence	
  movement	
  by	
  political	
  interests 16	
   5.	
   Theoretical	
  framework:	
  Intersectionality	
  theory ............................................................................................17	
   6.	
   Intersectionality	
  and	
  restorative	
  Justice..............................................................................................................22	
   7.	
   Thesis	
  preliminary	
  critique	
  and	
  defense .............................................................................................................28	
   Chapter	
  I	
  –	
  Restorative	
  justice .............................................................................................. 32	
   Chapter	
  outline.........................................................................................................................................................................32	
   1.	
   The	
  foundations	
  of	
  restorative	
  justice ..................................................................................................................38	
   a)	
   The	
  social	
  movements	
  of	
  the	
  1960s	
  and	
  1970s.................................................................................................40	
   b)	
   Programs	
  and	
  practices ..............................................................................................................................................42	
   c)	
   Informal	
  justice	
  and	
  abolitionism ...........................................................................................................................46	
   d)	
   Reintegrative	
  shaming	
  and	
  psychological	
  theories ........................................................................................50	
   e)	
   Feminists	
  theories	
  on	
  justice .....................................................................................................................................52	
   f)	
   Peacemaking	
  criminology	
  and	
  philosophy	
  theories ........................................................................................53	
   g)	
   Indigenous	
  justice	
  and	
  religious	
  roots ..................................................................................................................56	
   2.	
   Defining	
  restorative	
  justice........................................................................................................................................66	
   a)	
   Restorative	
  justice	
  working	
  definition..................................................................................................................68	
   b)	
   Overview	
  of	
  restorative	
  justice	
  models .................................................................................................................73	
   i.	
   VORPs	
  and	
  VOMs ..............................................................................................................................................................74	
   ii.	
   Family	
  group	
  conferences ...........................................................................................................................................79	
   iii.	
   Restorative	
  and	
  sentencing	
  circles ........................................................................................................................84	
   3.	
   Points	
  of	
  tension:	
  a	
  brief	
  critique	
  of	
  restorative	
  justice ................................................................................94	
   a)	
   Categorizing	
  the	
  critique	
  of	
  restorative	
  justice ................................................................................................95	
   b)	
   The	
  critiques	
  revolving	
  around	
  RJ	
  within	
  the	
  context	
  of	
  a	
  paradigmatic	
  shift...................................99	
   i.	
   Is	
  RJ	
  really	
  a	
  paradigmatic	
  shift? ..............................................................................................................................99	
   ii.	
   Restorative	
  Justice	
  versus	
  Retributive	
  Justice:	
  The	
  role	
  of	
  punishment ............................................... 101	
   iii.	
   Other	
  criticisms	
  revolving	
  around	
  claims	
  of	
  a	
  paradigmatic	
  shift ....................................................... 103	
   	
   Privatizing	
  crime:	
  Lack	
  of	
  public	
  denunciation ............................................................................................... 104	
   	
   Imbalance	
  of	
  power	
  in	
  RJ	
  encounters................................................................................................................... 105	
   	
   Accusations	
  of	
  manipulation.................................................................................................................................... 106	
   	
   Postmodern	
  critique	
  of	
  RJ.......................................................................................................................................... 107	
   	
   General	
  criticisms.......................................................................................................................................................... 109	
   	
    iii	
    c)	
   The	
  critique	
  revolving	
  around	
  RJ	
  as	
  an	
  appendage	
  of	
  the	
  justice	
  system........................................... 111	
   d)	
   Feminist	
  critique	
  of	
  RJ:	
  Deferring	
  the	
  discussion .......................................................................................... 112	
    Chapter	
  II	
  –	
  Feminism,	
  restorative	
  justice	
  and	
  domestic	
  violence........................................ 113	
   Chapter	
  outline......................................................................................................................................................................113	
   1.	
   The	
  feminist	
  engagement	
  with	
  restorative	
  justice .......................................................................................115	
   a)	
   General	
  Issues ............................................................................................................................................................... 115	
   b)	
   Feminist	
  criminology	
  and	
  RJ .................................................................................................................................. 117	
   i.	
   Feminist	
  schools	
  of	
  thought ...................................................................................................................................... 123	
   ii.	
   Essentialist	
  schools	
  of	
  feminism ............................................................................................................................ 125	
   	
   Liberal	
  or	
  “sameness”	
  feminism.............................................................................................................................. 126	
   	
   Cultural	
  or	
  “difference”	
  Feminism ......................................................................................................................... 128	
   	
   Radical	
  or	
  “dominance”	
  Feminism ........................................................................................................................ 130	
   iii.	
   Anti-­essentialist	
  schools	
  of	
  feminism ................................................................................................................. 133	
   	
   Marxist	
  feminism	
  and	
  socialist	
  feminism............................................................................................................ 134	
   	
   Postmodern	
  and	
  poststructuralist	
  feminism..................................................................................................... 137	
   iv.	
   Incorporating	
  intersectionality	
  theory ............................................................................................................. 140	
   	
   Multiracial	
  feminism’s	
  intersectionality	
  theory............................................................................................... 141	
   v.	
   Connecting	
  multiracial	
  feminism,	
  restorative	
  justice	
  and	
  indigenous	
  justice	
  claims .................... 145	
   c)	
   Problems	
  with	
  intersectionality	
  analysis .......................................................................................................... 151	
   	
   Intersectionality	
  theory:	
  making	
  feminist	
  analysis	
  less	
  open	
  to	
  gender	
  equality	
  concerns ......... 152	
   	
   Epistemic	
  problems	
  with	
  Intersectionality	
  theory:	
  anti-­essentialism.................................................... 153	
   	
   Strategic	
  essentialism.................................................................................................................................................. 156	
   	
   RJ	
  self-­advocacy:	
  contributing	
  to	
  the	
  imbalance	
  of	
  intersectional	
  approaches	
  through	
  cultural	
   frame	
  alignment. ................................................................................................................................................................... 157	
   2.	
   Daly	
  &	
  Stubbs	
  on	
  the	
  appropriateness	
  of	
  RJ	
  for	
  domestic	
  violence ......................................................160	
   a)	
   Potential	
  problems	
  of	
  using	
  restorative	
  justice ............................................................................................. 163	
   b)	
   Potential	
  advantages	
  of	
  using	
  restorative	
  justice......................................................................................... 164	
   Chapter	
  III	
  –	
  Further	
  developments,	
  implications	
  and	
  conclusions ...................................... 168	
   Chapter	
  outline......................................................................................................................................................................168	
   1.	
   Further	
  developments:	
  Intersectional	
  feminism,	
  multiculturalism	
  and	
  sentencing	
  circles.......172	
   a)	
   Multiculturalism	
  and	
  restorative	
  justice:	
  establishing	
  connections..................................................... 173	
   b)	
   Intersectionality	
  and	
  multiculturalism:	
  finding	
  common	
  ground......................................................... 175	
   c)	
   Intersectionality	
  and	
  multiculturalism:	
  establishing	
  differences .......................................................... 178	
   d)	
   Intersectionality	
  and	
  multiculturalism:	
  shared	
  vulnerabilities.............................................................. 180	
   2.	
   Discussion	
  and	
  implications:	
  contextualizing	
  imbalanced	
  intersectional	
  approaches ................184	
   a)	
   Sentencing	
  circles:	
  further	
  clarifications.......................................................................................................... 190	
   b)	
   Imbalanced	
  intersectional	
  approaches	
  in	
  context:	
  incorporating	
  insights....................................... 196	
   c)	
   Detrimental	
  effects	
  of	
  collective	
  ethnocultural	
  political	
  claims ............................................................. 205	
   d)	
   Intersectionality	
  and	
  uncritical	
  validation	
  of	
  ethnocultural	
  political	
  claims .................................. 208	
   e)	
   Tendencies	
  to	
  co-­optation ....................................................................................................................................... 210	
   f)	
   Other	
  implications:	
  RJ	
  international	
  expansion	
  and	
  the	
  perils	
  of	
  intersectional	
  imbalance ...... 213	
   3.	
   Summary	
  of	
  conclusions	
  and	
  recommendations ..........................................................................................218	
   Bibliography ....................................................................................................................... 231	
   	
    iv	
    	
   Acknowledgements	
   	
   	
    I offer my enduring gratitude to the faculty, staff and my fellow students at UBC, who have inspired me to continue my work in this field despite all the adversities that life and language barriers imposed on me. I owe particular thanks to Professor Janine Benedet, whose keen intelligence and penetrating knowledge about women’s studies are a reflection of her endless generosity and patience. I thank Angela Cameron for enlarging my vision of restorative justice and domestic violence providing prompt answers to my endless questions. 	
   	
   	
   	
   	
   	
    	
    v	
    Dedication	
   	
   	
    To my family for the lost hours.	
  	
   	
    	
    vi	
    Introduction	
   	
   	
    1. Topic:	
  Restorative	
  justice,	
  intersectionality	
  theory	
  co-­‐optation	
  and	
  violence	
  against	
   women	
   	
   	
    This thesis explores the affinities and tensions that arise between the restorative justice social movement (hereafter RJ) and feminist intersectionality theory within the context of violence against women.1 Basically, I contend that a theoretically ideal intersectional feminist analysis of the problem of the use of RJ as a remedy for cases of violence against women should bear in mind analytical criteria which meet all the intersectional inequality categories in a balanced way without losing the focus on the final purpose of any feminist analytical tool worthy of the name: to serve, above all, women’s interests. A possible failure of some intersectional feminists in giving balance to claims of gender injustice with various other intersectional inequality markers like culture; social class; religion; and ethnicity may have been silencing critical objections to RJ as a tool for dealing with the problem of violence against women, especially within Indigenous communities. It might also create an impression encouraged by some RJ advocates that in general restorative experiences ---in their various models and forms 	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
   1  	
  Although	
  throughout	
  this	
  paper	
  I	
  may	
  refer	
  to	
  the	
  expression	
   “violence	
  against	
  women”	
  which	
  is	
  as	
  a	
  catch-­‐all	
   phrase	
  to	
  any	
  kind	
  of	
  violence	
  that	
  is	
  directed	
  against	
  a	
  woman	
  because	
  she	
  is	
  a	
  woman	
  or	
  that	
  affects	
  women	
   disproportionately,	
   my	
   emphasis	
   is	
   on	
   intimate	
   partner	
   violence	
   also	
   known	
   as	
   domestic	
   violence,	
   battering	
   or	
   family	
  violence.	
  These	
  terms	
  will	
  be	
  used	
  in	
  this	
  paper	
  generically	
  and	
  interchangeably	
  as	
  forms	
  of	
  gender-­‐based	
   violence;	
  notwithstanding,	
  distinctions	
  among	
  them	
  can	
  be	
  found	
  in	
  the	
  literature	
  over	
  violence	
  against	
  women.	
   Definitions	
  of	
  intimate	
  partner	
  violence	
  or	
  domestic	
  violence	
  can	
  vary	
  according	
  to	
  jurisdiction,	
  but	
  in	
  general	
  they	
   refer	
  to	
  a	
  range	
  of	
  often	
  repetitive	
  and	
  meaningful	
  violent	
  and	
  abusive	
  behaviours	
  that	
  reflect	
  patterns	
  of	
  conduct	
   characterised	
  by	
  the	
  misuse	
  of	
  power	
  and	
  control	
  by	
  one	
  person	
  over	
  another	
  who	
  are	
  or	
  have	
  been	
  in	
  an	
  intimate	
   relationship.	
   It	
   can	
   occur	
   in	
   heterosexual	
   and	
   same	
   sex	
   relationships	
   and	
   has	
   profound	
   negative	
   impacts	
   in	
   the	
   lives	
   of	
   children,	
   individuals,	
   families	
   and	
   communities.	
   It	
   may	
   also	
   involve	
   physical,	
   sexual,	
   emotional	
   and/or	
   psychological	
  abuse.	
  	
    	
    1	
    are egalitarian, gender-friendly and victim-oriented forms of justice that are suitable to any empirical and cultural context, no matter how disparate women’s socioeconomic and ethnic realities are structured.2 I challenge this assumption throughout this study by arguing that there are epistemic problems with the intersectional approach of RJ in Indigenous settings: mainly because of radical anti-essentialist stances in intersectionality analysis. Furthermore, I hope to reveal that in some cases the underlying cause of this imbalanced intersectional approach is a possible co-optation of intersectionality theory by RJ’s advocacy discourse and other ethnocultural political agendas. I argue that this appropriation of a feminist intersectional approach may function as a “stamp of approval” to still unreliable restorative experiences resulting finally, in an intersectional “backfire”. According to Brian Martin a “backfire” is what happens when an action is counterproductive to its originators, and recoils against them. In a “backfire” dynamic, outcomes and processes can be worse than anticipated and in some cases worse than having done nothing.3 I use the expression intersectional “backfire” in this same sense.	
   These are intuitive insights for a very particular niche of feminist analysis on RJ that in general does not overlook the problems regarding RJ’s doctrine and its scope. Nevertheless, I am aware of no study theoretical or empirical that 	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
   2  	
   Feminists,	
   however,	
   have	
   been	
   made	
   a	
   critique	
   of	
   the	
   RJ	
   movement	
   that	
   revolve	
   around	
   three	
   main	
   themes:	
   women’s	
   safety,	
   offender	
   accountability,	
   and	
   the	
   politics	
   of	
   gender	
   and	
   race.	
   See,	
   e.g.,	
   Angela	
   Cameron,	
   “Restorative	
   Justice:	
   A	
   Literature	
   Review”	
   (Paper	
   presented	
   to	
   the	
   British	
   Columbia	
   Institute	
   Against	
   Family	
   Violence,”	
  2005)	
  [unpublished]	
  at	
  18-­‐22.	
  (Noting	
  and	
  citing	
  sources	
  in	
  a	
  comprehensive	
  literature	
  review	
  on	
  RJ	
  and	
   domestic	
  violence).	
  Furthermore,	
  here	
  I	
  make	
  one	
  more	
  remark	
  on	
  terminology.	
  Although	
  I	
  make	
  casual	
  use	
  of	
  the	
   terms	
   Indigenous	
   and	
   Aboriginal	
   throughout	
   this	
   paper,	
   in	
   order	
   to	
   refer	
   generically	
   to	
   autochthonous	
   peoples	
   from	
   North	
   America	
   (United	
   States	
   and	
   Canada)	
   and	
   Australasia	
   (Australia	
   and	
   New	
   Zealand).	
   I	
   do	
   not	
   have	
   the	
   intention	
  to	
  strip	
  them	
  of	
  their	
  particularities,	
  ethnic	
  diversity	
  or	
  to	
  the	
  right	
  of	
  designating	
  and	
  retaining	
  their	
  own	
   names	
  for	
  communities,	
  places	
  and	
  persons.	
  For	
  the	
  sake	
  of	
  simplicity,	
  I	
  will	
  use	
  those	
  terms	
  interchangeably	
  and	
   as	
   a	
   neutral	
   replacement	
   instead	
   of	
   giving	
   specific	
   names.	
   Nevertheless,	
   when	
   suitable	
   for	
   the	
   purposes	
   of	
   this	
   paper	
  I	
  may	
  mention	
  a	
  specific	
  group	
  or	
  ethnicity	
  by	
  their	
  self-­‐indentified	
  name.	
  	
   3 	
  See	
  Brian	
  Martin,	
  Justice	
  Ignited:	
  The	
  Dynamics	
  of	
  Backfire	
  (Lanhan,	
  Maryland:	
  Rowman	
  &	
  Littlefield	
  Publishers,	
   2007).	
   (Discussing	
   through	
   case	
   studies	
   theoretical	
   implications	
   of	
   a	
   “backfire”	
   dynamic).	
   See	
   also	
   Dana	
   Greene,	
   Repeat	
  Performances:	
  Why	
  Good	
  Reforms	
  Go	
  Bad	
  &	
  Testing	
  the	
  Next	
  Wave,	
  RJ	
  (Ph.D.	
  Thesis,	
  The	
  city	
  University	
  of	
   New	
   York,	
   2005)	
   [unpublished].	
   (Describing	
   a	
   backfire	
   dynamic	
   concerning	
   RJ	
   as	
   a	
   benevolent	
   penal	
   reform	
   initiative).	
    	
    2	
    attempts directly to connect the (mis)use of an intersectional approach and the validation of RJ practices through the co-optation of the former.4 In fact, the literature proceeds as if there are no potential epistemological problems, or as if intersectionality theory could be declared fault-proof as an analytical tool. However, my assessment of the subject matter considers an intersectional approach as open to criticism. In sum, my thesis problematizes the accommodation of intersectionality theory as a research tool within the context of RJ, domestic violence and Indigenous justice practices. The conventional assumption is that an intersectional feminist approach brings about certain emancipatory effects for women. This usually means that the intersection of the inequality categories (or social identities) brings into light the structures of domination and oppression embedded in women’s lives, and has the potential to expose existing detrimental power relations. However, in my opinion, some feminists and activists on RJ may reflect, at times, an unhelpful bias in their conceptualizations of the RJ processes and institutions producing an opposite effect when using an intersectional approach. These conceptualizations especially in Indigenous settings are developed with an explicit connection with collectivist RJ values and anti-racist political claims which do not coincide necessarily with Aboriginal women’s primary interests. For this reason, it is possible that an imbalanced intersectional approach does not benefit its intended particular beneficiaries (in our main focus of study: Indigenous women), because it cannot assure them of a sense of security and empowerment in RJ conferences. Besides that, those intersectional conceptualizations of RJ can foster 	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
   4  	
  I	
  do	
  not	
  want	
  to	
  suggest	
  that	
  RJ	
  and	
  feminist	
  scholars	
  have	
  ignored	
  this	
  topic	
  completely.	
  Intersectional	
  themes	
   have	
  been	
  openly	
  considered	
  in	
  a	
  great	
  deal	
  of	
  feminist	
  studies	
  on	
  restorative	
  justice.	
  In	
  fact,	
  almost	
  the	
  totality	
  of	
   them	
  used	
  somehow	
  intersectional	
  insights.	
  However,	
  none	
  of	
  them	
  explored	
  the	
  problems	
  and	
  prospects	
  of	
  the	
   methodology	
   itself,	
   or	
   asked	
   whether	
   it	
   might	
   be	
   co-­‐opted	
   by	
   other	
   political	
   interests	
   present	
   in	
   the	
   RJ	
   field.	
   Most	
   of	
  the	
  scholarly	
  commentaries	
  are	
  laudatory	
  front-­‐page	
  endorsements	
  of	
  an	
  intersectional	
  approach	
  and	
  do	
  not	
   engage	
   in	
   debate	
   regarding	
   possible	
   procedural	
   problems	
   due	
   to	
   the	
   presence	
   of	
   competing	
   inequality	
   categories.	
   That	
  is	
  my	
  original	
  take	
  on	
  the	
  issue.	
  	
  	
    	
    3	
    ethnocentrism and cast doubts over the real achievements of outstanding members of the "benefited" group since they can create an unhealthy preoccupation with other political claims, causing an intersectional backfire on them. This complicates the application of intersectionality theory to the study of RJ generating a kind of intellectual “myopia”. It may serve to reproduce and reinforce those structures of domination and oppression, or may even contribute to their perpetuation by masking their principles of operation. In addition, an imbalanced version of an intersectional approach may not capture the internal and external flaws and vulnerabilities of the RJ rhetoric since it might be conflated with them. Instead of providing an explanation or critical evaluation of RJ insights from this imbalanced intersectionality approach might become more like a claque, where intersectional feminists and RJ practitioners function to validate RJ experiences rather than enlighten policy-makers about possible dangers. One could argue that almost any action can generate unforeseen adverse consequences. The relevant issue is to determine what is the cost of an intersectional “backfire” for Aboriginal women versus the cost of not using intersectional insights, and the benefits and/or costs to the RJ movement itself? In order to advance understanding of the problem posed, besides an overview of the most relevant feminist theory scholarship about RJ and domestic violence, my thesis establishes as a working hypothesis positive links between the existence of competing inequality markers in an intersectional approach, and dissonant voices among feminist scholars about RJ effectiveness to cope with violence against women, especially regarding RJ models used in Aboriginal communities in Canada and Australia (mainly sentencing circles models). I seek to demonstrate that an excessive reliance on other intersectional inequality categories rather than a “gender-oriented” approach may result, paradoxically, in a feminist analytical tool that turns out to be divisive, uncritical and far from being in any way emancipatory to oppressed Aboriginal 	
    4	
    women. As a matter of fact, I contend that an intersectional approach might function as a “double-edged sword” with the potential to address how other forms of inequality and oppression, such as racism, colonialism, ethnocentrism, and class privilege affect Aboriginal women victimized by violence, but at the same time it has the potential to be co-opted to serve as a validation tool for RJ advocacy purposes. In my opinion the rhetoric of RJ proponents resonates with a political agenda of diverse (and sometimes conflicting) interest groups where self-advocacy motives, multi-cultural drives and intersectional anti-essentialist epistemic stances tend to impact directly on some intersectional approaches of RJ interventions. The reason for that is a pattern of identification and divided loyalty by a number of intersectional feminists with RJ tenets and other movements’ historical struggles like those represented by the battered women’s movement, victims and offenders’ rights advocates, and ethnic or racial minorities’ anti-colonial political claims. In addition, the anti-essentialist rejection of gender as a standard category of analysis provides the epistemological frailty for intersectionality analysis. In this sense, the heart of my study is to test whether or not intersectionality theory is vulnerable to be “tamed” as a critical feminist analytical tool by the militant advocacy of restorative proponents. In sum, intersectional feminists’ epistemological (in)ability to deal with the messiness of these most of the time - overlapping interests will be the central topic of my thesis.  2. Thesis	
  structure	
   	
    The idea of engaging the problematic positioning of intersectionality theory within the context of RJ and violence against women will be presented in the body of this thesis in three chapters: In the first chapter, I sketch out the foundational assumptions	
  and main features of RJ’s theoretical framework. In addition, a brief general critique of the RJ movement from various perspectives will be provided. The objective is to bring them into focus providing a solid foundation for the development of the following chapters. 	
    5	
    A second chapter will focus on feminist scholarship and its interactions with restorative justice. In this chapter, the aim is to explore the relationship between feminism and RJ, by addressing the contributions of several schools of feminist thinking. This leads to positioning feminist intersectionality theory within the context of feminist criminology, RJ and violence against women. In addition, I present a more critical understanding of intersectionality analysis revealing epistemological vulnerabilities and connections with Indigenous postcolonial political claims. Whereas some intersectional feminists employ a feminist theory that focuses disproportionately on anti-essentialist stances to the detriment of gender as an important analytical category, I contend that intersectionality needs a more balanced approach --strategically focused on individual gender equality concerns --- in which the forces shaping and obstructing intersectional analysis can be properly taken into consideration. Finally, this chapter will focus on the mainstream feminist contribution on the debate regarding the suitability of RJ to cope with domestic violence. In the third chapter criticisms, conceptualizations and concerns introduced in the first two chapters regarding the interplay between intersectionality theory, domestic violence and RJ will be contextualized in Indigenous settings and further developed. This last chapter --which also incorporates the conclusion --- seeks to develop insights into the use of intersectional thinking that reveal a lack of understanding from some intersectional feminists of particular cooptive structures (e.g., the impact of postcolonial multicultural theory on RJ and intersectional feminism) and other political (e.g., ethnocultural postcolonial claims) and epistemic processes (e.g., prospects of intersectional disempowerment) that point to the necessity of a more cautious approach of intersectionality analysis due to the risks of co-optation by non-woman centered interests.  	
    6	
    3. 	
  Caveat,	
  topic	
  developments	
  and	
  literature	
  review	
  	
   	
    Before proceeding, as a caveat to the reader I must acknowledge that my arguments concerning a possible co-optation of the intersectional theory by the RJ rhetoric cannot be applied to all intersectional feminist views on RJ and domestic violence. Actually, the prevailing perception of feminists (intersectional or not) over the use of models of RJ to cope with violence against women is highly critical and markedly hinders its use in several jurisdictions. By subjecting RJ concepts, practices and promises to critical analysis, feminist scholars have been playing an influential role in the adoption or otherwise of RJ models to cope with cases of violence against women to the extent that their objections or approval is, at times, decisive in the policy-making process.5 For this reason, my aim is to provide an assessment of the current feminist thought on this important public policy issue and to understand better the conflicting stances among feminist scholars, especially those that can be labelled as intersectional feminists or at least inspired by its methodology within the context of Indigenous women. I take this very particular niche of research concerning Aboriginal communities and the long term relationship between feminist theory and violence against women as a starting point for my study about how the feminist theory of intersectionality interacts with RJ in ways that can produce a backfire, especially in relation to Aboriginal women. As stated in the last section, I hope to emphasize the significance of a direct interplay between intersectionality theory and policy-making processes regarding RJ experiences for Aboriginal women. 	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
   5  	
  	
  Daly	
  and	
  Stubbs,	
  for	
  instance,	
  observed	
  that,	
  “…	
  with	
  the	
  exception	
  of	
  circle	
  sentencing,	
  RJ	
  has	
  largely	
  been	
  kept	
   off	
  the	
  agenda	
  for	
  partner	
  and	
  sexual	
  violence,	
  in	
  part	
  due	
  to	
  feminist	
  or	
  victim	
  advocacy.”	
  See	
  Kathleen	
  Daly	
  &	
   Julie	
   Stubbs,	
   “Feminist	
   Engagement	
   with	
   RJ”	
   (2006)	
   10:1	
   Theoretical	
   Criminology	
   9-­‐28	
   at	
   11.	
   More	
   recent	
   literature,	
   however,	
   suggests	
   that	
   this	
   tide	
   may	
   be	
   turning	
   with	
   several	
   ongoing	
   RJ	
   programmes	
   particularly	
   in	
   Canada	
   and	
   the	
   United	
   States	
   coping	
   with	
   domestic	
   violence.	
   See	
   James	
   Ptacek,	
   ed.,	
   Restorative	
   Justice	
   and	
   Violence	
  Against	
  Women	
  (New	
  York,	
  NY:	
  Oxford	
  University	
  Press,	
  2009).	
    	
    7	
    I will focus my analysis mainly in two empirical contexts. Firstly, the access to and use of sentencing circles in Canada by Aboriginal communities.6 I start with scholarly commentaries on the relationship between RJ and Indigenous justice particularly the adoption of RJ practices by Indigenous communities. That will permit us to get insights about the existence of competing inequality categories in an intersectional analysis of the relationship between specific models of RJ, and how Aboriginal women are affected by it empirically. Secondly, I ask whether we might not expand upon those insights by analyzing the effects of the use of similar models of RJ by Aboriginal people mainly in Australia. I use data collected by feminist scholars to explore whether or not there is a pattern of repetition concerning how Aboriginal women are impacted by RJ experiences. Certain patterns of those imbalanced inequality categories seem to emerge to exist predominantly within particular political and socio-legal feminist mindsets. Thus, for instance, cultural and ethnic justice arguments found especially within the context of Indigenous Justice and RJ such as that domestic violence occurs because the community is still suffering from the effects of colonialization, gendered racism or lack of political self-determination may be 	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
   6  	
  As	
  Stubbs	
  points	
  out,	
  “There	
  are	
  problems	
  in	
  conflating	
  Indigenous	
  justice	
  with	
  RJ,	
  but	
  no	
  agreement	
  on	
  how	
  to	
   differentiate	
  between	
  the	
  two.	
  Circle	
  sentencing	
  is	
  commonly	
  designated	
  as	
  an	
  example	
  of	
  RJ	
  but	
  Marchetti	
  and	
   Daly	
  disagree	
  and	
  classify	
  it	
  as	
  an	
  Indigenous	
  justice	
  practice…”.	
  See	
  Julie	
  Stubbs,	
  “Restorative	
  Justice,	
  Gendered	
   Violence,	
  and	
  Indigenous	
  Justice”	
  in	
  James	
  Ptacek,	
  ed.,	
  Restorative	
  Justice	
  and	
  Violence	
  Against	
  Women	
  (New	
  York,	
   NY:	
  Oxford	
  University	
  Press,	
  2009)	
  at	
  1656-­‐1659	
  in	
  a	
  kindle	
  e-­‐book	
  version.	
  Emma	
  Cunliffe	
  and	
  Angela	
  Cameron	
   also	
   resist	
   to	
   the	
   idea	
   of	
   considering	
   Aboriginal	
   sentencing	
   circles	
   a	
   form	
   of	
   RJ	
   since,	
   in	
   their	
   words,	
   “This	
   endorsement	
   is	
   risky	
   because	
   categorizing	
   judicially	
   convened	
   sentencing	
   circles	
   as	
   restorative	
   justice	
   acts	
   as	
   a	
   frame	
  by	
  which	
  the	
  circle	
  practice	
  is	
  interpreted	
  as	
  helping	
  to	
  secure	
  restorative	
  objectives,	
  regardless	
  of	
  the	
  fact	
   that	
  circles	
  actually	
  operate	
  more	
  ambivalently.	
  The	
  categorization	
  also	
  accords	
  the	
  practice	
  legitimacy	
  within	
  the	
   Canadian	
   criminal	
   justice	
   system.“	
   See	
   infra	
   note	
   8,	
   Cameron	
   &	
   Cunliffe,	
   Writing	
   the	
   Circle	
   at	
   14	
   .	
   Angela	
   Cameron	
   also	
  articulates	
  several	
  distinctions	
  between	
  Indigenous	
  Justice	
  and	
  RJ,	
  but	
  at	
  the	
  same	
  time	
  she	
  notes	
  that:	
  “Other	
   scholars,	
  as	
  well	
  as	
  the	
  Supreme	
  Court	
  of	
  Canada,	
  have	
  noted	
  the	
  striking	
  similarities	
  between	
  Aboriginal	
  justice	
   and	
  other	
  restorative	
  justice	
  practices	
  in	
  Canada	
  (R	
  v.	
  Gladue,	
  1999;	
  Doulis,	
  1996;	
  LaPrairie,	
  1992)”.	
  See	
  note	
  2	
  at	
   6.	
  But	
  see	
  Ann	
  Skelton,	
  “Tapping	
  indigenous	
  knowledge:	
  traditional	
  conflict	
  resolution,	
  restorative	
  justice	
  and	
  the	
   denunciation	
   of	
   crime	
   in	
   South	
   Africa”	
   (2007)	
   Acta	
   Juridica	
   228-­‐246	
   at	
   230.	
   (Observing	
   that	
   African	
   writers	
   are	
   more	
   open	
   to	
   making	
   the	
   linkages	
   between	
   modern	
   restorative	
   justice	
   and	
   Indigenous	
   justice	
   than	
   are	
   their	
   counterparts	
  from	
  Australia,	
  New	
  Zealand	
  and	
  North	
  America).	
  For	
  the	
  purposes	
  of	
  my	
  thesis	
  I	
  will	
  treat	
  Aboriginal	
   sentencing	
  circles	
  as	
  consistent	
  with	
  RJ	
  experiences	
  since	
  the	
  general	
  perception	
  is	
  that	
  both	
  are	
  conflated.	
  	
  	
  	
    	
    8	
    acclaimed by some intersectional feminists and RJ advocates, while women’s safety and autonomy are neglected. Emphasizing some inequality categories may hamper the pursuit of others. In fact, advocacy of political goals through RJ and Indigenous justice may have a profound negative impact on the achievement of a safe environment for Indigenous women in restorative conferences, both ignoring and silencing the victim.7 Recently, a number of scholarly works have given considerable attention to this focus of study. They highlight the potential perils of the way in which conflicting inequality markers and disparate political goals have been fostering the debate among and between Indigenous and non-Indigenous women on the appropriateness of restorative justice and Indigenous justice in response to partner, sexual and family violence.8 Daly summarizes these concerns, as she writes: Indigenous communities often show a willingness to engage with alternative forms of justice, born in part from a critique of the damage wrought by conventional criminal justice, and many are keen to adopt RJ. However, Indigenous aspirations for justice are commonly holistic and are associated with calls for self-determination; these elements are not often acknowledged in alternative modes of justice, nor are Indigenous women’s perspectives typically addressed.9  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
   7  	
   Giving	
   voice	
   to	
   victims	
   is	
   of	
   paramount	
   importance	
   in	
   any	
   RJ	
   conference	
   since	
   it	
   is	
   considered	
   part	
   of	
   the	
   healing	
   process	
  to	
  allow	
  victims	
  to	
  tell	
  their	
  stories	
  to	
  the	
  community	
  and	
  to	
  the	
  ones	
  who	
  caused	
  the	
  harm	
  in	
  order	
  to	
   have	
  them	
  understand	
  the	
  impact	
  of	
  their	
  actions.	
   8 	
  See,	
  e.g.,	
  Angela	
  Cameron	
  &	
  Emma	
  Cunliffe,	
  “Writing	
  the	
  Circle:	
  Judicially	
  Convened	
  Sentencing	
  circles	
  and	
  the	
   Textual	
   Organization	
   of	
   Criminal	
   Justice”	
   (2007)	
   19:1	
   Canadian	
   Journal	
   of	
   Women	
   and	
   the	
   Law	
   1-­‐35;	
   Elizabeth	
   Adjin-­‐Tettey,	
   “Sentencing	
   Aboriginal	
   Offender:	
   Balancing	
   Offender's	
   Needs,	
   the	
   Interests	
   of	
   victims	
   and	
   Society,	
   and	
   the	
   Decolonization	
   of	
   Aboriginal	
   Peoples”	
   (2007)	
   19:1	
   Canadian	
   Journal	
   of	
   Women	
   and	
   the	
   Law	
   179;	
   Carol	
   LaPrairie	
  &	
  Jane	
  Dickson-­‐Gilmore,	
  Will	
  the	
  Circle	
  be	
  Unbroken?	
  Aboriginal	
  Communities,	
  Restorative	
  Justice	
  and	
  the	
   Challenges	
  of	
  Conflict	
  and	
  Change	
  (Cullompton,	
  UK:	
  Willan	
  Publishing	
  2005);	
  Angela	
  Cameron,	
  “Sentencing	
  Circles	
   and	
   Intimate	
   Violence:	
   A	
   Canadian	
   Feminist	
   Perspective”	
   (2006)	
   18:2	
   Canadian	
   Journal	
   of	
   Women	
   and	
   the	
   Law	
   479-­‐512	
   and	
   Rashmi	
   Goel,	
   “No	
   Women	
   at	
   the	
   Center:	
   The	
   use	
   of	
   the	
   Canadian	
   Sentencing	
   Circles	
   in	
   Domestic	
   Violence	
  Cases”(2000)	
  15	
  Wiscosin	
  	
  Women’s	
  Law	
  Journal	
  293-­‐3334.	
  (Addressing	
  specifically	
  the	
  issue	
  of	
  the	
  use	
  of	
   sentencing	
   circles	
   in	
   Indigenous	
   settings	
   and	
   its	
   consequences	
   for	
   Indigenous	
   women).	
   See	
   generally	
   the	
   following	
   books:	
  James	
  Ptacek,	
  ed.,	
   Restorative	
  Jutice	
  and	
  Violence	
  Against	
  Women	
  (New	
  York,	
  NY:	
  Oxford	
  University	
  Press,	
   2009)	
   and	
   	
   Heather	
   Strang	
   &	
   John	
   Braithwaite,	
   eds.,	
   Restorative	
   Justice	
   and	
   Family	
   Violence	
   (Cambridge,	
   UK:	
   Cambridge	
  University	
  Press,	
  2002).	
  	
  (In	
  these	
  collections	
  of	
  essays	
  over	
  the	
  theme	
  “RJ	
  and	
  violence	
  against	
  women	
   several”	
  several	
  contributors	
  have	
  used	
  a	
  perspective	
  of	
  Aboriginal	
  women).	
  	
   9 	
  See	
  Kathleen	
  Daly	
  &	
  Julie	
  Stubbs,	
  “Feminist	
  Theory,	
  Feminist	
  and	
  anti-­‐racist	
  politics	
  and	
  Restorative	
  Justice”	
  in	
   Gerry	
  Johnstone	
  &	
  Daniel	
  W.	
  Van	
  Ness,	
  eds.,	
  Handbook	
  of	
  Restorative	
  Justice	
  (Portland,	
  Oregon:	
  Willan	
  Publishing,	
   2007)	
  at	
  161.	
    	
    9	
    Although the intersectional approach addresses multiple discrimination categories (or inequality markers) --- gender; religion; ethnicity; culture; social class, etc.--- and helps us understand how different sets of social identities impact Indigenous women’s interactions with RJ there is the tangible risk in considering a given inequality category or marker, for example, culture, as more important than others and by so doing neglecting essential features of the traditional feminist thought like security and empowerment.10 Just to take one example of how a dynamic like that can function, I single out for demonstration an insight drawn from the work of the Canadian feminist scholar Angela Cameron. She points out the existence of asymmetric approaches by Indigenous women and feminist scholars concerning how they see RJ interventions in Canada. Some have a focus on community interests with self-determination as their primary goal --- clearly a cultural and political agenda. Others focus more on gender to address subordination of women in some Canadian Aboriginal communities.11 She writes, “…the quest to incorporate an appropriate cultural and gender perspective in the debate about restorative justice is a difficult one. The scholars discussed in this segment, in many cases, prioritize a cultural agenda over an agenda that incorporates gender equality and culture in the context of intimate violence.”12 	
  	
   	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
  	
   10  	
  As	
  Barbara	
  Hart,	
  an	
  historical	
  militant	
  in	
  the	
  battered	
  woman’s	
  movement,	
  argues:	
  “In	
  the	
  context	
  of	
  domestic	
   violence,	
   there	
   are	
   six	
   primary	
   goals.	
   The	
   first	
   and	
   overarching	
   goal	
   is	
   safety	
   for	
   battered	
   women	
   and	
   children.	
   Every	
   intervention	
   should	
   be	
   measured	
   against	
   the	
   yardstick	
   of	
   safety.”	
   (According	
   to	
   her,	
   safety	
   is	
   followed	
   by	
   stopping	
  the	
  violence	
  (the	
  second	
  goal);	
  holding	
  perpetrators	
  accountable	
  (the	
  third	
  goal);	
  divesting	
  perpetrators	
   of	
   control	
   (the	
   fourth	
   goal);	
   restoring	
   women	
   who	
   have	
   been	
   battered	
   (the	
   fifth	
   goal),	
   and	
   enhancing	
   agency	
   in	
   women	
  who	
  have	
  been	
  battered	
  (the	
  sixth	
  goal)	
  making	
  them	
  able	
  to	
  make	
  decisions	
  without	
  interference	
  by	
  the	
   batterer).	
   See	
   Barbara	
   J.	
   Hart,	
   “Arrest,	
   What’s	
   the	
   Big	
   Deal”	
   (1997)	
   3	
   Wm.	
   &	
   Mary	
   J.	
   Women	
   &	
   L.	
   	
   at	
   207-­‐209.	
  	
   Goodmark	
  defines	
  empowerment,“…as	
  consistent	
  with	
  autonomy	
  or	
  agency—as	
  self-­‐direction,	
  self-­‐determination,	
   enabling	
   the	
   woman	
   who	
   has	
   been	
   battered	
   not	
   only	
   to	
   make	
   choices,	
   but	
   to	
   define	
   the	
   options	
   for	
   herself,	
   regardless	
   of	
   how	
   others	
   would	
   evaluate	
   those	
   options.”	
   (I	
   adopt	
   her	
   same	
   view	
   on	
   women’s	
   empowerment).	
   See	
   Leigh	
   Goodmark,	
   “Autonomy	
   Feminism:	
   An	
   Anti-­‐essentialist	
   Critique	
   of	
   Mandatory	
   Interventions	
   in	
   Domestic	
   Violence	
   Cases”,	
   This	
   article	
   will	
   be	
   adapted	
   as	
   a	
   chapter	
   in	
   A	
   Troubled	
   Marriage:	
   Domestic	
   Violence	
   and	
   the	
   Legal	
   System	
  publication	
  forthcoming	
  (NY:	
  New	
  York	
  University	
  Press,	
  2011)	
  at	
  48.	
  	
   11 	
   See	
   Angela	
   Cameron,	
   Gender,	
   Power	
   and	
   Justice:	
   A	
   Feminist	
   Perspective	
   on	
   Restorative	
   Justice	
   and	
   Intimate	
   Violence	
  (LL.M.	
  Thesis,	
  University	
  of	
  British	
  Columbia,	
  2003)	
  [unpublished]	
  at	
  136.	
  	
   12 	
  Ibid.	
    	
    10	
    Defenders of the primacy of community interests over gender issues often argue that women should put the community before themselves as a political assertion of their autonomy and self-governance. However, other Indigenous women and feminist scholars have criticized claims like those arguing that women’s choices are, in that context, constrained by political forces. These forces are objectionable since they re-victimize Indigenous women undermining their freedom of choice --- even using state-based coercive sanctioning schemes -and reinforcing gender subordination. They deprive individual Indigenous women of the selfdetermination and self-direction that are essential for their autonomy and empowerment. As Rashmi Goel, another Canadian scholar observes: “this dynamic is complicated when community members also see themselves as victims of the mainstream system … interactions might simply shift to one in which the community and the offender stand as victims of the state”.13 She adds, “This could work to excuse the offender or to blame the victim for bringing punishment on a fellow member”.14 This prioritization of the political assertion of autonomy and self-governance over safety and offenders’ accountability is only one example consistent with a strand of feminist thought that I contend has permeated some imbalanced intersectional approaches. Those intersectional feminists do not focus on women’s subordinated and victimized statuses believing they believe that other inequality loci are most significan