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School of Justice and Social Inquiry names permanent visiting scholars


April 30, 2008

Internationally renowned scholars Rebecca Dobash, professor of social research, and Russell Dobash, professor of criminology and social policy at the School of Law, University of Manchester in the United Kingdom, have joined the School of Justice and Social Inquiry as permanent Visiting Distinguished Professors.

Together the Dobashes have published eight internationally award winning books and more than 100 articles and book chapters in the areas of domestic violence, gender and crime. Their first book, Violence Against Wives (Free Press, 1979) established the field of historically and socially contextualized domestic violence studies. The authors of this groundbreaking work were awarded the World Congress of Victimology's International Award for Original Research and Significant Publications in 1980. Their book Women, Violence and Social Change (Routledge, 1992) won the American Society of Criminology Award for Outstanding Comparative Criminology. In 1995 they received the American Society of Criminology's August Vollmer award for significant contributions to criminal justice research and policy. Most recently they have been selected as two of the University of Manchester's Knowledge Horizon Professors.

The Dobashes will spend several weeks in residence at ASU the spring term of each year. Their appointment with the school represents a homecoming for them as both received their bachelor's and master's degrees from ASU prior to completing their doctorates in sociology at Washington State University. Since completing their doctorates, they have held teaching positions in the United Kingdom beginning with the University of Stirling, Scotland, and the University of Wales before assuming their current positions at the University of Manchester.

Before their arrival at the School of Justice and Social Inquiry, the Dobashes also have had visiting positions or been invited scholars-in-residence at the Rockefeller Foundation Centre for Fellows in Bellagio, Italy; University of California, Berkeley; Johns Hopkins University; University of Haifa, Israel; and, the University of Melbourne and University of Sydney, Australia. Their research has been supported through a number of prestigious awards from the Fulbright Foundation, the National Institute of Justice, the Rockefeller Foundation and the UK equivalent of the National Science Foundation known as the Economic and Social Research Council. Notably, the Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation sponsored their year-long international and multidisciplinary initiative on violence against women.

The Dobashes accepted the invitation to be permanent Visiting Distinguished Professors after having worked with faculty at international conferences and during a previous appointment as Visiting Researchers in the School of Justice and Social Inquiry.

“We are delighted to be able to spend more time at ASU in the School of Justice and Social Inquiry with students are colleagues who are both welcoming and intellectually stimulating. This provides an excellent opportunity for us to engage with the impressive scholars in the school in ways that will enable us to further develop our own research,” says Rebecca Dobash.

According to School of Justice and Social Inquiry Director Marjorie S. Zatz, "Russell and Rebecca Dobash are leading scholars internationally in the area of domestic violence. More than anyone else, they have defined this field of study for the past 30 years. We
are delighted that Russell and Rebecca have chosen to join the school as Visiting Distinguished Professors on a regular basis each spring, guest lecturing in classes, offering public lectures, and meeting with faculty and graduate student research clusters. They will contribute greatly to one of our school's core scholarly themes – law, policy and social change – and to transdisciplinary scholarship more generally in the area of gender violence and the law."

John Johnson, professor in the School of Justice and Social Inquiry, who taught one of the first undergraduate courses on domestic violence at ASU, is "proud that by hosting Rebecca Dobash and Russell Dobash the school continues to advance cutting edge, social justice research on domestic violence."

Associate Professor Madelaine Adelman welcomes the Dobashes' annual visit with the department. "From the beginning, my research on the politics of domestic violence in Israel was developed in conversation with the Dobashes’ scholarship. Their innovative approach to domestic violence research continues to motivate me to conduct collaborative, transdisciplinary and use-inspired scholarship."

Additionally, Adelman is pleased that her students will benefit from the Dobashes' guest lectures in her courses on domestic violence and qualitative research methods this semester. "The Dobashes are able to translate their research findings for novices and experts alike - their passion for careful, systematic research will encourage undergraduate and graduate students to help solve one of our generation's most entrenched social problems,” she says.

Faculty across the campus concur. Alesha Durfee, assistant professor in the Women and Gender Studies Program, whose research focuses on the legal regulation of domestic violence considers the Dobashes to have contributed deeply to her scholarship and teaching: "Their insights into the issues of theorizing, defining, and measuring intimate partner violence and violence against women have had dramatic impacts on the field,” she says.

Graduate students agree that their visit will benefit the development of their own research projects, particularly given the dexterity with which the Dobashes tack between qualitative and quantitative methods in their pursuit of innovate ways to answer new questions about domestic violence. Justice and Social Inquiry doctoral student Olivia Salcido is grateful for how the Dobashes' mixed method approach “moves beyond the individuals involved in a relationship to analyze the historical, cultural, and multi-oppressive contexts in which domestic violence occurs." She adds that "the Dobashes' research has always been instrumental in my approach to exploring domestic violence and immigration."

Demetra Presley, a graduate student, agrees. "Learning about their methods and the progress they were making in the field when I was an undergraduate laid the foundation for my own interest in domestic violence as a graduate student. Their research challenged my own beliefs about domestic violence."

The Dobashes' current research addresses the significant challenges society and the criminal justice system face when dealing with domestic violence homicide, one of the most visible yet misunderstood forms of domestic violence. The Dobashes have turned to considering how and why men kill their intimate women partners and/or their children. This is a timely question in light of the recent murder of a 17-year old female high school student by her ex-boyfriend here in the Valley. Indeed, the State of Arizona witnessed 127 domestic violence-related deaths in 2007.