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Productive Violence: Identifying narratives used to legitimise abuse - 2 February 2022

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Chair: Dr Amanda Chisholm, Senior Lecturer in Security Studies / Researcher in Gender and Security

Speaker: Dr Andrea Espinoza Carvajal, Lecturer in International Relations and Gender Education.   

In a 2011 survey, the Ecuadorian National Institute for Statistics and Census asked "In which of the following cases would you justify a woman's husband or partner hitting her?"

Considering the pool of options, most women surveyed replied that violence was unacceptable under the presented circumstances. However, for some women, being unfaithful (23.78% of married women) and going out too often (13.51% of married women) were justifiable reasons for physical abuse.

This discussion will reflect on women's experience of gender-based violence to discuss productive violence, defined as violence inflicted upon others for a socially acceptable reason, including providing punishment, teaching a lesson, restoring social hierarchies, and reproducing social norms in a group. Understanding gender-based violence as productive aims to show how complicated it is to disrupt and challenge patterns of abuse when they have been given value within society and might not be categorised as abuse but as an acceptable and desirable display of normative power.


Dr Espinoza is a feminist researcher focused on women’s and indigenous’ rights in Latin America, particularly in Ecuador and the Andean region. Her work aims to understand how women interact with laws, institutions, and development projects. It considers women’s active involvement in the interpretation, confrontation, and adaptation to normative frameworks. In that sense, she is interested in how women react, adapt, and/or normalise behaviours to survive, endure or disrupt hierarchical and subordinative power structures. 

Dr Espinoza has an MSc in Latin American Development and a PhD in Gender and Development from King’s College London. Before working as an academic, she worked as a journalist in Ecuador (2009-2016). In September 2021, Dr Espinoza joined the Department of War Studies at King’s College London as Lecturer in International Relations and Gender Education.   

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Andrea  Espinoza Carvajal

Andrea Espinoza Carvajal

Lecturer in International Relations and Gender Education

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2 February 2022

Online event