War and Rape: Law, Memory and Justice, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

War and Rape

Law, Memory and Justice, 1st Edition

By Nicola Henry


184 pages

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Wartime rape has been virulent in wars of sovereignty, territory, conquest, religion, ideology and liberation, yet attention to this crime has been sporadic throughout history. Rape remains ‘unspeakable’, particularly within law. Moreover, rape has not featured prominently in post-conflict collective memory. And even when rape is ‘remembered’, it is often the subject of political controversy and heated debate.

In this book, Henry asks some critical questions about the relationship between mass rape, politics and law. In what ways does law contribute to the collective memory of wartime rape? How do ‘counter-memories’ of victims compete with the denialism of wartime rape? The text specifically analyses the historical silencing of rape throughout international legal history and the potential of law to restore these silenced histories, it also examines the violence of law and the obstacles to individual and collective redemption. Tracing the prosecution of rape crimes within contemporary courts, Henry seeks to argue that politics underscores the way rape is dealt with by the international community in the aftermath of armed conflict.

Providing a comprehensive overview of the politics of wartime rape and the politics of prosecuting such crimes within international humanitarian law, this text will be of great interest to scholars of gender and security, war crimes and law and society.


'Nicola Henry has written an erudite and powerfully argued book about the role of law in constructing collective memories of sexual violation in wartime.' - Joanna Bourke, Gender & Development, Vol. 19, 2, July 2011

'The book is well written and is great use to anyone interested in gender studies, war studies and legal studies or collective memory issues.' Rasa Balockaite, Vytautas Magnus University, Lithuania

Table of Contents

1. Introduction: How the Past is Made to Matter 2. Traces of Truth: Collective Memory and the Law 3. A History of Silence: The Nuremberg and Tokyo Trials 4. Casualties of Law: Wartime Rape and War Crimes Courts 5. Trials and Trauma: The Impossibility of Bearing Witness 6. Wartime Rape and the Legacy of Law

About the Author

Nicola Henry is a lecturer in the School of Social Sciences at La Trobe University in Melbourne. Her central research interest is the relationship between politics and law and how this can be understood in relation to violence against women, trauma, collective memory and human rights.

About the Series


The Series provides a forum for innovative and interdisciplinary work that engages with alternative critical, post-structural, feminist, postcolonial, psychoanalytic and cultural approaches to international relations and global politics. In our first 5 years we have published 60 volumes.

We aim to advance understanding of the key areas in which scholars working within broad critical post-structural traditions have chosen to make their interventions, and to present innovative analyses of important topics. Titles in the series engage with critical thinkers in philosophy, sociology, politics and other disciplines and provide situated historical, empirical and textual studies in international politics.


We are very happy to discuss your ideas at any stage of the project: just contact us for advice or proposal guidelines. Proposals should be submitted directly to the Series Editors:

‘As Michel Foucault has famously stated, "knowledge is not made for understanding; it is made for cutting" In this spirit The Edkins - Vaughan-Williams Interventions series solicits cutting edge, critical works that challenge mainstream understandings in international relations. It is the best place to contribute post disciplinary works that think rather than merely recognize and affirm the world recycled in IR's traditional geopolitical imaginary.’

Michael J. Shapiro, University of Hawai'i at Manoa, USA


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