Emma Louise Backe

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

George Washington U.

Grant number

Gr. 9981

Approve Date

August 26, 2020

Project Title

Backe, Emma (George Washington U.) "Caring Through Crisis: The Temporalities of Recovery and Survival in South Africa’s Gender-Based Violence Epidemic "

With South Africa’s recent declaration of gender-based violence (GBV) as a national crisis, the “exceptionality” of violence against women and intimate femicide in the country has garnered renewed attention by multilateral organizations, the national government, and local activists. But a crisis-oriented framing of violence against women in the country elides the more trenchant and prolonged dimensions of recovery after sexual violence, while privileging a temporary and limited approach to intervention and prevention for certain kinds of survivors. Focusing on the complex of services for survivors in the Western Cape’s victim empowerment programme (VEP)—a network of service providers beholden to international donors and state policies which mandate the forms and time-frames of treatment—this research asks: how do survivors of intimate partner violence conceptualize and actualize long-term processes of recovery that exceed the temporalities of a crisis-oriented framework? Through ethnographic research embedded in MOSAIC—an NGO in Cape Town’s VEP—I center the experiences of those still-living with violence, to consider what competing claims of care and framings of the “crisis” violence tell us about the possibilities of recovery and the more chronic forms of gendered precarity, harm and reconciliation in South Africa.