Sameena Mulla (July 2016)
Sameena Mulla is Associate Professor of Anthropology in the Department of Social and Cultural Sciences at Marquette University. She is the author of The Violence of Care: Rape Victims, Forensic Nurses, and Sexual Assault Intervention (New York University Press, 2014). The book was awarded an Honorable Mention in the 2015 Eileen Basker Prize competition, which recognizes outstanding scholarship in gender and health. The Violence of Care draws on four years of participatory research in a Baltimore emergency room, to reveal the realities of sexual assault response in the forensic age. Taking an approach developed at the intersection of medical and legal anthropology, Sameena argues that blending the work of care and forensic investigation into a single intervention shapes how victims of violence understand their own suffering, recovery, and access to justice—in short, what it means to be a “victim”. Sameena has also published numerous articles and book chapters that explore topics as varied as visual technology and forensic examination, sexual assault examination documentation, and the impact of sexual violence on survivors and their families. Her work has appeared in Medical Anthropology; Law, Culture and the Humanities; Violence Against Women and Home Cultures.
In 2012, she and Dr. Heather Hlavka were awarded a research grant from the National Science Foundation’s Law and Social Science Program to conduct research on the sexual assault trial. Together, they observed over 630 court appearances in the sexual assault division of Milwaukee County’s Court. This research provides the basis for a book that Sameena and Heather are co-authoring. The current book project will argue that while sexual assault trials rely heavily on cutting edge technologies, the role of forensic technology is most often to uphold very traditional narratives about sexual assault, including pernicious rape myths that require sexual assault victims to conform to problematic norms about race, sexuality, and gender. Sameena and Heather will use the period of residency at the Women’s International Study Center to dedicate time to writing and completing several chapters of their book, which they will present at an Executive Session at the American Anthropological Association in Minneapolis, Minnesota in November 2016.