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Book Launch: Trailing Abuse: Considering Historical Representations of Sexual Violence Against Children

Venue: Online

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The Sexual Harms and Medical Encounters Project (SHaME) completes its 2021 event calendar with the official book launch of Dr Nick Basannavar’s Sexual Violence Against Children in Britain Since 1965: Trailing Abuse (Palgrave Macmillan). Nick will be joined in conversation by host Professor Joanna Bourke (Principal Investigator at SHaME) and guests Professor Adrian Bingham (Sheffield) and Professor Rachel Hope Cleves (Victoria).

Sexual violence against children has always existed. However, the ways in which it has been interpreted and represented have shifted according to historical setting. In his powerful, provocative and timely book, historian Nick Basannavar investigates these changes and continuities in Britain since 1965.

The book picks up the representational trail of the Moors murders and subsequent trial of 1966, the emergence of age of consent abolitionism in the 1970s, Cleveland’s child sexual abuse crisis of 1987-8, and 2010s contemplations on the Jimmy Savile scandal. Harnessing research into popular media forms and a huge range of personal, political and professional records, Basannavar carefully parses and illustrates the ways in which journalists, medical workers, politicians, lobbyists and other groups assembled and animated their narratives, revealing complex rhetorical and emotional processes.

The book launch will feature introductory comments from Professor Joanna Bourke, reflections from Professors Adrian Bingham and Rachel Hope Cleves, a reading from the author, and an open panel discussion (including questions from the audience). The speakers will reflect on continuities and changes in historical representations of sexual violence against children, as well as the ethical, linguistic, and methodological challenges for historians and other researchers in addressing this highly complex subject.


You can read more about this event by visiting the SHaME website:

You can also read Professor Joanna Bourke's review of Sexual Violence Against Children in Britain Since 1965: Trailing Abuse on the SHaME blog:

Please note that this event will be hosted online and a joining link will be sent separately a few days prior to the event.

Please note that this event will be recorded (speakers only).


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  • Adrian Bingham -

    Adrian Bingham is Professor of Modern British History at the University of Sheffield. He has written extensively on the history of British journalism, and his books include Family Newspapers? Sex, Private Life, and the British Popular Press 1918-1978 (OUP, 2009), with Martin Conboy, Tabloid Century: The Popular Press in Britain, 1896 to the Present (Peter Lang, 2015), and co-edited with Martin Conboy, The Edinburgh History of the British and Irish Press, Volume 3: Competition and Disruption, 1900-2017 (Edinburgh University Press, 2020). In 2018 he was awarded, with colleagues Louise Jackson and Lucy Delap, the first Royal Historical Society Public History Prize for Public Debate and Policy, for work on historical child sexual abuse.

  • Nick Basannavar -

    Nick Basannavar is a historian specialising in the cultural, social and sexual history of postwar Britain. He is an Associate Fellow at SHaME, an Honorary Fellow at Birkbeck, University of London (2021-22), and the Head of Consulting at the diversity and inclusion consultancy and think tank Included, where he helps to build more inclusive organisations in the public and private spheres. His first book, Sexual Violence Against Children in Britain Since 1965: Trailing Abuse, is being published in 2021 by Palgrave Macmillan. Nick completed his PhD at Birkbeck, where he has also taught modern British history.

  • Prof Joanna Bourke -

    Joanna Bourke is Professor of History at Birkbeck, University of London, Professor of Rhetoric at Gresham College, and a Fellow of the British Academy. She is the Principal Investigator of the SHaME project. She is the prize-winning author of fourteen books, as well as over 100 articles in academic journals. Among others, she is the author of Rape: A History from the 1860s to the Present (2007), What it Means To Be Human: Reflections from 1791 to the Present (2011), and The Story of Pain: From Prayer to Painkillers (2014). Reaktion Books will publish Disgrace: Global Reflections on Sexual Violence from the 1830s to #MeToo in mid-2022. Her books have been translated into Chinese, Russian, Spanish, Catalan, Italian, Portuguese, Czech, Turkish, and Greek. She is a frequent contributor to TV and radio shows, and a regular correspondent for newspapers.

  • Rachel Hope Cleves -

    Rachel Hope Cleves is Professor of history at the University of Victoria, and a member of the College of the Royal Society of Canada. She is the author of three award-winning books. Her most recent book, Unspeakable: A Life Beyond Sexual Morality, is a history of intergenerational sex as a social practice during the first half of the twentieth century, told through the life of Norman Douglas, a notorious British author and pederast.