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Working title: Feminist State Crime Theory-Elaborating a new approach to the study of atrocities by learning from the case of systematic sexual violence in the Yugoslav wars of the 1990s

Institution: University of Edinburgh

Full or part-time: Full time

Year Commenced: 2022

PhD Supervisors: Dr Andy Aydin-Aitchison and Dr Michelle Burgis-Kasthala

Funding: Self-funded


This project advances a new theoretical approach -a feminist state crime theory- to the study of the widespread and systematic deployment of sexual violence as a means of ethnic cleansing by learning from the events characterizing the Yugoslav wars of the 1990s. It moves forward the feminist debate on the purpose of the rapes deployed in former Yugoslavia. The new feminist approach acknowledges both the experiences of men and women and aims to understand what factors, if any, make sexual violence genocidal and at what level (i.e., physical, psychological, cultural, etc.).

The research integrates the feminist approach with the state crime one to insert the interconnections of both gender and ethnicity within the study of atrocity crimes and to include victimology in the state crime field (Rothe and Kauzlarich, 2014). The project adopts Fairclough’s (2001) model of Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) to explore the dynamics of gendered power relations within discourses (Bryman, 2016: 540) and how a particular ideology can be advanced through specific linguistic choices that dehumanizes the members of the targeted group by naming them with degrading ethnic-related epitomes (see Cohen, 1993).

This method is applied to the victims’ testimonies held within the ICTY web-archive and the victims’ testimonies already present in existing criminological literature. The research shows that integrating the state crime approach to the study of atrocity crimes with the feminist interpretation of CRSV develops the criminological understanding of the gendered nature of particular atrocities and the different ways in which it affects not only women but also men.

Keywords: sexual violence; genocide; atrocity



University of Edinburgh

Research Themes

Globalisation, Harm and Social Justice

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