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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Violence denied, bodies erased : towards an interlocking spatial framework for queer anti-violence organizing Holmes, Cindy


The research undertaken for this dissertation applies an interlocking spatial framework to the study of anti-violence strategies in queer communities in Canada, with a focus on British Columbia specifically. Drawing on anti-colonial feminist and queer activism and scholarship, it examines the implications of different ways of framing violence and space and their material effects. It encourages scholars and activists to expand the way we conceptualize and respond to violence, by examining the interlocking nature of different forms of violence and the spaces in which the violence occurs. This research asks: What are the stories that queer anti-violence organizers tell about the violence in our lives? What do these stories do? What, and whom do they make im/possible or in/visible, and how do they do this? What stories are told about place and space and what kinds of understandings of violence are made possible or erased through these imagined geographies? What strategies exist for resisting normative narratives and frameworks? To examine these questions, I focus on a discursive analysis of texts as well as on key social and historical moments through which I also engage in autoethnographic approaches. I critically analyze discourses in various texts including interview and focus group transcripts, lesbian anti-violence curricula, pamphlets and booklets, print and web-based news articles, a website for an urban development proposal, and a report from a human rights tribunal. To do this, I use an interdisciplinary framework, drawing on methodological tools from Women’s Studies, Geography, Social Work and Sociology. The research critiques the colonial, racialized, heteronormative and homonormative discursive practices and politics in queer and feminist anti-violence movements, and examines how different geographies and forms of violence, such as intimate partner violence and hate-motivated violence, are linked to the violence of imperialism, colonialism and nation-building. It also challenges normative and neoliberal constructions of subjectivity, health, safety, violence, belonging and citizenship in community-based feminist and queer anti-violence initiatives. My analysis reveals the way whiteness is produced through homonormative discourses, and offers anti-colonial and anti-normative strategies for change within feminist and queer anti-violence movements.

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