Making a Difference: The SOCS Blog

This blog focuses on the research and community-based work of faculty members and others associated with the Department of Social and Cultural Sciences.

Restorative Justice in Movement

By:Heather Hlavka, Associate Professor

Department of Social and Cultural Sciences

picture of researchers
Photo credit: Heather Hlavka


Restorative Justice in Movement (RJM) is a partnership between Marquette University, Cardinal Stritch University, and the Milwaukee Turners to develop a movement program to promote gender equity, embodied empowerment, and collective healing from trauma.

Our women-led team came together in the initial aftermath of COVID-19. The realities of systemic oppression, marginalization, and social isolation compounded existing racial disparities in health, gender inequities in the burdens of caretaking, and economic precarity. Additionally, Wisconsin’s "Safer-at-Home" order and nationwide “Shelter-in-Place” policies created the extraordinary contraction of safe public space that increased the risk of abuse and violence for many women and genderqueer persons. State violence, through systems of mass incarceration, immigrant detention and deportation, has caused tremendous social harm in our Milwaukee communities, feeding cycles of intergenerational trauma. In turn, we see how this collective social stress and harm is worn on the body of individuals.

RJM is an interdisciplinary collaboration to study the multidimensional nature of gendered trauma. Through political science, we gain an understanding of trauma as oppression, and we reconceptualize trauma-intervention as political resistance. Through sociology we develop an understanding of trauma as situated in structural and symbolic violence and racialized inequality, and we theorize the possibilities for social change. Through sociolegal studies, we appreciate the role of stigmatization and disadvantage constructed by legal systems, and we develop insights into how these systems shape the body and generate trauma across generations. Through nursing, we explore the intersections of physical and mental health, and we reinvent care-giving interventions that act upon the biology of body/mind. These diverse disciplinary approaches to trauma draw on recent breakthroughs in neuroscience and are united by a shared methodological commitment to feminist participatory action research.

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The opinions expressed in this blog are those of the individual authors and do not represent the views of Marquette University.



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