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Reading: #MeToo under Colonialism: Conceptualising Responsibility for Sexual Violence in Australia


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#MeToo under Colonialism: Conceptualising Responsibility for Sexual Violence in Australia


Honni van Rjiswijk

University of Technology Sydney, AU
About Honni
Dr Honni van Rijswijk is a Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Law, University of Technology Sydney, Australia. She received her PhD from the University of Washington, where she was a Fellow in the Society of Scholars at the Simpson Center for the Humanities. She has published on feminist theories of harm, formulations of responsibility in law and literature, the role of history in the common law, and on questions of justice relating to the Stolen Generations. Honni is currently writing a monograph, Law and the Girl: Gender, Genre, Violence.
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One of the most provocative and productive applications of Michael Rothberg’s concept of ‘the implicated subject’ is the way it provides a framework to think through #MeToo intersectionally. The ‘implicated subject’ provides a way to think responsibility for sexual violence laterally—beyond the limited figures of victim, perpetrator and bystander; and also temporally—connecting the contemporary sexual harms with the legacies of colonialism and slavery. The concept of the ‘implicated subject’ opens up a field of nuanced responsibility: ‘it both draws attention to responsibilities for violence and injustice greater than most of us want to embrace and shifts questions of accountability from a discourse of guilt to a less legally and emotionally charged terrain of historical and political responsibility’. This is a very rich concept to use as we develop schemas of responsibility in relation to #MeToo, especially for those who may be interpellated by #MeToo as survivors of sexual violence, but who may be implicated by other structural and historical processes—including colonialism, historical slavery, and other processes of structural racism.
How to Cite: van Rjiswijk, H., 2020. #MeToo under Colonialism: Conceptualising Responsibility for Sexual Violence in Australia. Journal of Perpetrator Research, 3(1), pp.29–41. DOI:
Published on 05 May 2020.


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