Sexual Violence in Wars of Decolonization

NIAS Fellows Stef Scagliola and Natalya Vince compare their findings on sexual violence in wars of decolonization in Indonesia (1945-1949) and Algeria (1954-1962).

Sexual violence against women, and also men, is an all-too common feature of war. At the same time, it is difficult to fully cover the character, scale and impact of this type of violence, as the shame felt by both victims and perpetrators results in silencing the topic. Researchers thus have to deal with a structurally underreported phenomenon, in times of both peace and war. A specific feature of colonial wars is that colonised women’s voices and experiences are doubly silenced – as women, and as colonised people.

In the past two decades, a number of court cases about human rights abuses committed during wars of decolonisation/recolonisation have nevertheless brought to public attention examples of sexual violence against women. These cases are being studied by NIAS Fellows Stef Scagliola and Natalya Vince, who are currently working on a project on sexual violence in wars of decolonisation/recolonisation in Indonesia and Algeria, as part of a broader project which seeks to examine the Dutch/Indonesian case in a global perspective.

In this talk, they will discuss the kinds of sources they are using and the questions they are asking, with the goal of better understanding the similarities and differences in cases of sexual violence between the two wars of decolonisation/recolonisation.

About the speakers

Stef Scagliola, Ph.D. from Erasmus University Rotterdam. Postdoc researcher at the C²DH in Luxembourg University and at the KITLV in Leiden.

Natalya Vince, Ph.D. from the University of London, UK. Reader in North African and French Studies at the University of Portsmouth, UK.

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