Date of Award

2017

First Advisor

Asma Abbas

Second Advisor

Anne O'Dwyer

Abstract

This thesis focuses on the concepts of will and consent and their imbrication within the histories of moral philosophy, colonialism, state formation, and sexual violence. Where it is racialized and feminized bodies that are continually violated, consent cannot confine these subjects to the condition of being willing or not when invitation, hospitality, or desire will always be overwritten by trespass. I examine consent as a production of nineteenth century slave law in conversation with Saidiya Hartman's work on seduction, injury, rape, and slave subjectivity, the terms of "general will" set by Jean-Jacques Rousseau apropos of sovereignty and submission, sexual assault as a problem to be managed within the University through Title IX, as well as the continued failure to address the historical and contemporary rape and abduction of Native American women parallel to struggles for indigenous sovereignty. My aim is to displace questions of articulating desire or opposition (which require a prior identification with the given terms and boundaries of sexual violence as a category), and instead wonder how the imputation of a consenting or nonconsenting condition is another form of invasion that assumes subjects are knowable, accessible, and violable.

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