Dr Alessandra Gribaldo

ISRF Independent Scholar Fellow 2016-17

Dr Alessandra Gribaldo

ISRF Independent Scholar Fellow 2016-17

Alessandra Gribaldo ISRF

Alessandra obtained her PhD in 2004 at the University of Siena with an ethnographic research on reproductive technologies in Italy, and she is currently Adjunct Professor of Cultural Anthropology at the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia.

Her main interests are gender and feminist theory, anthropology of kinship and reproduction, the intersection of image and gender, intimate partner violence, migration and identity, contemporary Italy, ethnography.

Over the past ten years she has been involved in a number of collaborative research projects with the ethnographic analysis of contemporary Italian society, including low fertility (Brown University, USA/Cattaneo Institute, Italy), women’s safety and right to justice (European Union), migration, reproduction and identity (University of Trento, Italy).

Alessandra’s ISFR project is aimed at finalizing a book on legal testimonies by women victims of domestic violence in Italy, addressing the issue through the lens of gender and subjectivity theories, anthropology of law, and ethnography.

In particular, her project investigates how legal proceedings related to intimate partner violence are intertwined with discourses on violence and gender in national narratives and political debates on women’s representation and role in Italy, and places an often undertheorized issue within the broader debate on violence, gendered subjectivity, power, and agency, beyond the boundaries of the Italian case.

Producing the Victim. The Paradoxes of Intimate Violence Narratives on Trial in Italy

The proposed project is the finalization of a book titled, “Producing the Victim. The Paradoxes of Intimate Violence Narratives on Trial in Italy”.

In recent years, domestic violence in Italy has received increased attention as official statistics have revealed a widespread phenomenon. Yet, in most cases women do not press charges against violence perpetrators.

In the field of domestic violence, Italy is an exemplary case study because victims’ testimony plays a pivotal role in hearings, since in most cases the woman is paradoxically the sole figure who speaks, both for herself and her aggressor.

Through an ethnographic approach, I have recently proposed that the reasons why women victim of domestic violence seldom access the Italian justice system lie in its peculiar character, which reveals impervious to the demands of women, by focusing on the credibility of the victim’s testimony.

Women in courts have to fulfill a series of requirements revolving around their credibility, from their narrative’s content (coherent, detailed, quantitative) to their intentions (detached from any specific contingency) and the way they expresses themselves (a truthful tone appropriate to a victim-subject). This entanglement of factors makes it impossible for women’s testimony to hold legal significance, thus rendering it inadequate, lacking, and inconsistent.

With this project I wish to develop further my argument by investigating the process of construction of the subject-victim, in particular by focusing on how women try to escape it. I contextualise my analysis through taking into account discourses on violence and gender in national narratives and political debates on women’s representation and role in Italy.

My study will grant visibility to women’s active role in making their testimony relevant and become a “reliable” subject, and will contribute to understand the complex relationship between women victims and the law, beyond the boundaries of the Italian case.

Research Outcomes

  • Gribaldo, A. (2019) ‘The Burden of Intimate Partner Violence: Evidence, Experience, and Persuasion’, in PoLAR: Political and Legal Anthropology Review42(2), 283-297.

Contacting Fellows

If you would like to contact any of our Fellows to discuss their ISRF-funded work, please contact Dr Lars Cornelissen (Academic Editor) in the first instance, at lars.cornelissen@isrf.org.