Nothing but this otherness : rape discourses in peace and war / by Carolyn J. Mee.
This dissertation explores the nature of narratives that construct the crime of rape. My controlling question is: If we create meaning in language as I believe we do, why have recent revisions in the linguistic constructions of the crime, such as reforms in rape laws and in interpretive legal theories, failed to change the way we interpret rape discourses? Why, for example, are rape survivors' narratives suspect in very specific ways, as compared to robbery victims' narratives? I attempt to answer such questions as: How do rape discourses relate to the brute facts of violent crime? How do readers/listeners judge a rape survivor's testimony? How are rape laws interpreted and applied to the specifics of a case? The ultimate question is: Can discourse effect the prevention of future crime? To this end, I analyze the intersection of three streams of interpretive theory: post-structuralism, feminist theories of language, and legal theory including feminist approaches. In addition, Elaine Scarry's The Body in Pain: The Making and Unmaking of the World, a highly interdisciplinary work, informs my analysis of the imbrication of rape and language. Two specific cases exemplify my theoretical position. The first is the case of Alexander Keaton, a Philadelphia man tried and convicted of rape and murder. Keaton's case demonstrates the discursive operations involved in investigating and prosecuting crimes of rape. The second case concerns the investigations and indictments surrounding accusations of mass rapes as acts of genocide in Bosnia. The two cases resonate in the reception of survivors' narratives, as well as in the absence of resolution. They contrast in that Keaton represents an individual acting out his misogyny in a free country during peacetime; on the other hand, Bosnian Serbs acted during war and under military orders designed to eradicate a nation by way of its women, its families, and its communities.
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