Emma Louise Backe
Grant TypeDissertation Fieldwork Grant
Institutional AffiliationGeorge Washington U.
Grant numberGr. 9981
Approve DateAugust 26, 2020
Project TitleBacke, Emma (George Washington U.) "Caring Through Crisis: The Temporalities of Recovery and Survival in South Africa’s Gender-Based Violence Epidemic "
EMMA LOUISE BACKE, then a graduate student at George Washington University, Washington, DC, was awarded a grant in August 2020 to aid research on “Caring Through Crisis: The Temporalities of Recovery and Survival in South Africa’s Gender-Based Violence Epidemic,” supervised by Dr. Ilana Feldman. In 2018, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa declared gender-based violence (GBV) a national emergency. In 2020, this crisis was reduplicated by the COVID-19 pandemic, trapping citizens in their homes with abusers, promoting what UN Women called a “shadow pandemic.” Responding to this epistemic of crisis, research was carried out over a year (April 2021-April 2022) through a hybrid model of remote and in-person fieldwork to investigate how ideas of emergency across different scales—international donors, government, service providers, and activists—inform the politics of survival, and the therapeutics and temporalities of care for survivors of intimate partner violence (IPV) in Cape Town. Care amongst international donors and government institutions placed a heavy emphasis on statistics, an enumerative strategy activists pushed back against as impersonal and insufficient to capturing the lived crisis of IPV. Political patience amongst grassroots activists is waning, leading to NGO interventions which attempt to improve services for survivors seeking Protection Orders, while promoting more localized solutions to addressing violence in the home. Research revealed conflicting visions of what justice means within the courts, how survivors access and operationalize justice in their day-to-day lives, and the perilous outcomes of waiting on the criminal justice system to intervene.