Molly Ackhurst and Ellie Whittingdale on Feminist Entanglements and the State of Stuckness: The Tensions, and Possibilities, of Abolition in Feminist Sexual Violence Work

Event date
21 May 2024
Event time
16:15 - 17:30
Oxford week
TT 5
HYBRID SEMINAR - Criminology Seminar Room

Notes & Changes



Abstract: Feminist scholars and service providers have long been aware of the failures of the criminal legal system when it comes to sexual violence. While there is a growing body of abolitionist work - which strives to imagine and offer transformative approaches sans carcerality - less attention has been paid to interrogating how and why the feminist anti-violence project in the UK remains entangled within it. Through reflecting on work with feminist sexual violence services in England, Wales and Scotland, this discussion group will explore the tensions - and possibilities - of “doing” abolition when it comes to the topic of sexual violence. Recognising that this is fraught terrain, we will also consider why the work of imagining often feels so difficult. 



Dr molly ackhurst is a Lecturer in Criminology in the Faculty of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the University of Greenwich.  With over a decade of experience in sexual violence support, molly’s work attends to the affective elements of feminist politics. Her current research focus charts how and why feminist sexual violence scholarship and service provision remains attached to carceral systems, structures and logics that are widely understood as being unable to provide justice. Having received her PhD - entitled ‘Reckoning with the Stuckness’ - from the Faculty of Social Science in December 2023 from Birkbeck College, she is currently working on developing her thesis into a monograph.


Dr Ellie Whittingdale is a researcher at the Centre for Socio-Legal Studies (CSLS), University of Oxford. Ellie’s doctoral thesis, completed at CSLS in 2024, explored how sexual violence is talked about and understood by people working within English sexual violence support services. As part of her doctoral project, Ellie undertook 64 qualitative interviews with people working within these spaces. Alongside her DPhil, Ellie volunteered at a local support service and worked for the national organisation Rape Crisis England & Wales.

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