Call for Papers: Agency, health and intimate partner violence

Intimate Partner Violence in Marginalised Settings: Re-theorising Agency for Global Public Health
An LSE workshop and special issue of Global Public Health


Guest editors: Dr Jenevieve Mannell (LSE), Professor Catherine Campbell (LSE),

Intimate partner violence (IPV) is a major global health issue that severely affects women’s psychological and physical wellbeing. Current public health efforts to address violence against women have led to a focus on women’s agency, or the ability to make choices that go against unequal gender norms. However, women’s agency has not been adequately conceptualised for a global health response to intimate partner violence, particularly in relation to the contextual factors that contribute to violence in marginalised settings around the world, including issues such as extreme poverty, challenges relating to migration and housing, intersectional inequalities, armed conflict, stigma and discrimination. Furthermore, too little attention has been given to the psycho-social processes through which multi-layered power inequalities become inscribed on women’s bodies, psyches, identities and relationships in ways that place them at risk of violence.

This has led to a global health response that often seeks to transform individual women into agents that are able to challenge, resist or escape the violence of their intimate partners. This is problematic for many reasons. It undermines the complexities of women’s lives, failing to capture the role interpersonal relations and community supports play in shaping their access to resources and vulnerability to abuse in marginalised settings. It can unintentionally normalise situations of severe suffering by highlighting choices women are expected to make without paying attention to the contextual factors that may constrain these choices. In its most unsettling form, an individualised notion of agency can put blame on the women suffering from violence for their own situation by positioning them as agents that should be able to escape violent relationships.

How might the concept of women’s agency be re-theorised for a global public health response? We are interested in exploring a range of perspectives from different geographic locations that look at the intersections and pathways between women’s agency, intimate partner violence and various forms of marginalisation. We welcome papers from across the social sciences including geography, law, sociology, psychology, gender studies, social policy, development studies, social policy, etc. and hope to encourage contributions from a range of theoretical frameworks.

Papers might include (but are not limited to) attention to:
  • theoretical links between agency and structure in IPV
  • psycho-social mediators of IPV in extreme or difficult settings
  • women’s agency in situations of food insecurity, migration, housing problems, urbanisation, conflict or post-conflict
  • IPV and women’s physical or mental ill-health or disability
  • understandings of gender in policy responses and interventions
  • the developing/ developed country divide in IPV health research
  • IPV and the women’s movement/ organising against IPV/ local community responses
  • addressing intersectionality in the IPV response
  • the role of stigma/ discrimination in IPV
  • the location of IPV responses within wider systems of public health or government – within countries or in ‘global health’ contexts
  • IPV in same-sex or inter-generational relationships

To submit an abstract for consideration, please send a copy to both Dr Jenevieve Mannell ( and Prof Cathy Campbell ( by November 1, 2013. 

Abstracts should be 400 words or less, and should provide an explicit account of the way in which the paper advances understandings of women’s agency. We will notify authors if their abstract has been accepted by December 20th, 2013 and invite them to submit drafts of their paper for a ‘special issue workshop’ at the LSE in March 2014 (attendance at the workshop is not necessary for submission of a paper). Final papers will be due in July 2014 in order to work towards publication of the special issue of Global Public Health in mid-2015.
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