Letter from London


[Editor’s Note: As near as I can tell, the first woman murdered by a man was bludgeoned four hundred thirty thousand years ago. Men (and a few women) have committed femicide — hate killings of women and girls — with some regularity since. For example, the State of Mexico, which includes Mexico City, lately has been reporting six such killings a dayAdrian Howe is an adjunct research fellow at Griffith Law School in Australia, and visiting research fellow at Queen Mary University of London School of Law, who would love to see an end to this kind of violence. She’s organizing a conference to be held in the fall at Queen Mary, and this is her call for papers from others interested in the field. There will also be a live stage play during the conference, based on the jealousy murder of Desdemona by Shakespeare’s Othello, which some men still prefer to call an honor killing. Dr. Howe’s research is in the field of sexed violence, recently focusing on intimate partner homicide and reforms to the law of murder in England and Wales. She is the author of Sex, Violence and Crime: Foucault and the ‘Man’ Question.]

Queen Mary Public Engagement Conference

Fighting Femicide: Cultural and Legal Interventions

Queen Mary University of London
5-6 November 2015

CALL FOR PAPERS Deadline 1 September 2015

The School of Law, Queen Mary University of London, is pleased to announce the call for papers for
the upcoming conference, Fighting Femicide: Cultural and Legal Interventions.

The conference will launch a Femicide Research Network committed to elevating femicide into a
first-order political problem.

While papers on any aspect of femicide will be considered, the focus is on the most prevalent form
in western countries, so-called ‘intimate femicides’ where the victim had a relationship with her
killer. These cases are critically important sites for locating and contesting victim-blaming fictions
that inform all culturally-based excuses for femicide.

The network and conference aims are

  • to stimulate public and policy debate about how best to prevent men’s murderous violence
    against women
  • to provide a comparative study of annual death tolls, court dispositions in femicide cases
    and innovative prevention strategies
  • to track ideologically-constructed narratives that blame women for provoking their own

What distinguishes this femicide research network from other femicide research organisations and
agendas is its focus on the need for cultural transformation and, more specifically, its interrogations
of the incidence and reception of femicide within dominant cultural communities.

Crucially, this entails a departure from the conventional focus on femicides committed by minority
ethnic men. While all excuses for killing wives, women partners and former partners are culturally
inscribed, we concentrate on cases involving members of dominant social groups. For as 21st-
century English law reformers recognised in their bid to reign in the provocation defence — the most
widely used partial defence to murder in intimate partner femicide cases in the UK and other
Anglophone jurisdictions — so-called ‘honour killings’ are not confined to minority communities.
Provocation has operated as a cultural defence for white Englishmen for centuries. It is, as one
English law reformer put it, ‘our own version of honour killing’.

The statistics are shocking enough. In the UK 2 women are killed each week on average by men
known to them. Relative to population, the statistics are worse in Finland and Turkey and
dramatically worse across Latin America where in Brazil, for example, a woman is killed every 2
hours. Nevertheless, studies indicate that all western countries in the Global North and Global South
have high levels of violence against women, including countries such as Sweden and Denmark often
praised for their gender equity.

The Femicide Research Network is committed to forging links between researchers developing new
methodologies and conceptual frameworks; researchers documenting the legal outcomes of
femicide cases and feminist activists deploying social media sites to keep lethal violence against
women on the political agenda.

Accordingly, we invite requests to join the network and submissions to present a conference paper
from the feminist anti-violence sector, including researchers, NGOs and activists worldwide.

With a focus on dominant cultures, the event intends to address the following areas of interest and

  • new conceptual frameworks and research methodologies
  • best practice preventative measures
  • law reforms and other government anti-violence initiatives
  • anti-violence campaigning strategies

Keynote speakers include Karen Ingala Smith, Chief Executive of NIA Charity, London and ’Counting
Dead Women’ Campaigner.

There will also be a performance of Othello on Trial, the first play in a new youth theatre project,
Seeing Red – Murderous Rage against Women.

The conference, co-hosted by the London Centre for Social Studies, will take place at the Octagon,
Queens Building, Queen Mary University of London on 5-6 November 2015.

Proposals for papers (150 words) or full panels (approx. 500 words) followed by a short biographical
note should be submitted to Dr Adrian Howe by 1 September 2015.

Proposals to join the Femicide Research Network should also be sent to her. We accept requests
from individuals and organisations which have a focus on femicides committed by members of

dominant cultural communities. Membership is free of charge. For further information see the
network’s website.

The cost of the conference is:

  • Academics, lawyers, policy-makers £50
  • Femicide Research Network members, NGO/Third sector workers £25
  • Students and unwaged £15

Conference fee includes lunch, coffee and snacks, conference drinks reception and conference

For further queries, please contact Daniela Alaattinoglu or Dr Adrian Howe or follow the conference website.


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