This path-breaking book provides a comparative analysis of public discourses in France and Australia on a series of highly mediatised racialised gang rapes that occurred during the early to mid-2000s. These rapes led to intense public debate in both countries regarding an apparent ‘gang rape phenomenon’ associated with young men of Muslim background. By comparing the responses to similar instances of sexual violence in two very different Western liberal democracies, this book explores the relationship between constructions of national, gender and ethnic identity in modern, developed nations of the West. The impact of immigration and cultural diversity on communities has become an issue of central concern to Western liberal democracies in recent years. With greater movements of people than ever before, and large temporary migrant populations who have not ‘gone home’, the discourse of a ‘crisis of national identity’ is a feature of many democracies in the West. At the same time, in a supposedly ‘post-feminist’ age, the focus of debates around women’s rights in these democracies has increasingly been the extent to which the cultural values of immigrant and ethnic minority populations are compatible with the espoused gender equality of the West. Through an analysis of these rapes, Kiran Kaur Grewal identifies certain commonalities as well as interesting points of divergence within the two nations’ public discourses. In doing so she identifies the limitations of current debates and proposes alternative ways of understanding the tensions at play when trying to respond to acts of extreme sexism and violence committed by members of ethnic minority communities.
Table of Contents
Chapter 2. The Sydney Gang Rape Trials
Chapter 3. ‘White Angels’ and ‘Muslim Misogynists’ – Survivor and Rapist Discourses
Chapter 4. ‘Talking Race or Racism’? Public Responses to the Rapes
Chapter 5. ‘Girls Like You’
Chapter 6. La Squale – ‘Feminising the Banlieue’
Chapter 7. The (Sexually) Lost Banlieues of the Republic
Chapter 8. The ‘Beurette’ and the Republic
Chapter 9. Ni Putes Ni Soumises – The New ‘Voice of the Banlieue’?
List of cases
Kiran Kaur Grewal is a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute for Social Justice, Australian Catholic University. Her areas of research specialisation include postcolonial and feminist legal theory, sexual violence, human and women’s rights and the relationship between law and subaltern struggles for justice. Prior to joining ACU, Kiran was a lecturer in human rights and socio-legal studies at the University of Sydney. She has also worked with Amnesty International and as a litigation lawyer in Sydney, specializing in administrative and immigration law. Kiran is also the author of the book, The Socio-Political Practice of Human Rights: Between the Universal and the Particular.
'The author of this important book carefully and gently tries to conceive of a simultaneously anti-racist and feminist response to the phenomenon of gang rapes in France and in Australia. Aware of the extremely controversial nature of the events that she has chosen to analyze, she scrutinizes the sometimes self-contradictory ways in which national public discourses and the media have constructed the figures of the victims and of the perpetrators, imposing their definition of the kind of violence that rape constitutes in this case. This books helps us disentangle the disturbing and often hidden connections between the racialization of migrant and Muslim bodies, secularism and certain types of nationalism, feminism and postcolonization.' - Mireille Rosello, University of Amsterdam, Netherlands
'This book is critically important. Sexual violence is becoming the central strategy of anti-immigration arguments. So it is crucial for both anti-racist activists and anti-rape activists to think through the complex intersections of racism and sexism that occur both in the public discourses and in real world cases. Grewal provides a balanced analysis that takes each of these concerns seriously, criticizes both left and right responses, and charts a path for the difficult work of talking about both race and rape with clarity and courage.' - Linda Martín Alcoff,