Project summary

What did this project actually do?
12-HERA-JRP-CE-FP-058: Project summary
The project “Cultural Encounters in Interventions Against Violence” (CEINAV) took a dual approach to cultural encounters as they play out in ethics, justice, and citizenship, through a focus on the fundamental rights of women and of children to safety from violence. It explored both national legal and institutional cultures as they affect practices of intervention, and the growing diversity within European countries, where symbolic boundaries of cultural belonging can define social exclusion and inclusion. Four EU countries – Germany, Portugal, Slovenia and England and Wales – were studied, and differing approaches to the protective role of the state (as expressed in law, policing, and social welfare intervention) were contextualized in the history of colonialism, democracy, migration, and diversity.

The research explored on the one hand why, despite an explicit European consensus on stopping violence against women and protecting children from harm, the practices of intervention and the rationales behind them differ between countries, and on the other hand, how policies and institutional practices intended to ensure the “best interests of the child” and the freedom and safety of women from violence may be deployed differently and have quite different effects for disadvantaged minorities within each country.

In consultation with 12 associate partners who represent networks of practitioners and stakeholders the project focused on three forms of violence for which state responsibility is well established: intimate partner violence, child abuse and neglect, and trafficking for sexual exploitation. Using paradigmatic narratives, in-depth discussions with professionals involved in intervention were analysed for their implicit and explicit discursive constructions and normative representations. Exploring the perspectives of stakeholders who work with migrant and minority women and children illuminated the tensions each group negotiates and through this enriched the debates on multiculturalism and diversity.

The project also gave space to the voices of women and children who have travelled through a personal history of violence and of social interventions. Collecting their stories and working in a creative art process sought to uncover the potential both of narrative and of visual representation to stimulate the imagination needed to hear different voices and to recognise the agency of victims. Artist-researchers in each of the four countries integrated creative art and aesthetic education as instruments through which disempowered voices may be heard, creating resources that can be used in change processes.

Comprising innovative methodological approaches, theory-based research and a creative synergy CEINAV worked ‘in between’ research, policy and practice. The project analysed ethical issues of rights and discrimination, seeking to clarify the implications of European norms and of practices of protection, taking account of multiple and intersecting structures of power and oppression. It framed an intersectional approach to intervention that recognises the voice and agency of diverse victims. The outcomes included working papers, video documentaries, a document outlining ethical foundations for responsible practice and two books.

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