Ms Karen Desborough

Ms Karen Desborough

Ms Karen Desborough
Research Support Assistant

Room 3.05,
Senate House, Tyndall Avenue, Clifton
(See a map)

Telephone Number (0117) 331 4276

School of Sociology, Politics and International Studies

The Global Anti-Street Harassment Movement: A Feminist Politics of Resistance

Personal profile

I am Research Associate on the Southern African Rurality in Higher Education (SARiHE) project (Graduate School of Education).

I am a PhD candidate in the School of Sociology, Politics and International Studies (SPAIS) funded through a University of Bristol Postgraduate Research Scholarship. I am researching the emergence, development and impact of the global anti-street harassment movement.

I am an active member of the Gender Research Centre (GRC) and from 2015-2016 was a member of the GRC management team.

Previous positions and education

Research Assistant, Transforming Insecurity project, University of Bristol, 2013-2015

Research Collaborator, Impact, University of Bristol, 2012-2013

SCOOP Project Manager, University of the West of England, 2009-2013

MSc in International Relations (Distinction), University of Bristol, 2011

BA (First class honours) Politics and Spanish, University of Bristol, 2009


Southern African Rurality in Higher Education (SARiHE) project

I am Research Associate on the SARiHE project, which aims to address the knowledge gap that exists regarding the transition from rural school and home contexts to university learning in Southern Africa. The study will trace the trajectory and implications of this transition in order to develop inclusive teaching and learning practices, and support mechanisms and structures in universities. The project has adopted a participatory research approach, working with student co-researchers across three universities in South Africa, who will document their prior learning in rural areas and their experience as university students, as well as how they negotiate the transition and what social and technological resources they draw upon. Student co-researchers will document their experiences using drawings and personal documentaries created using iPads. The project will contribute to knowledge on the complexities and dimensions of rurality and how they can be conceptualised in relation to higher education and social justice.

PhD research

Street harassment – sexual and gender-based harassment in public spaces – is a form of gender oppression because it involves the exercise of power over (primarily) female bodies. Across the world feminist activists have been developing an anti-street harassment social movement to expose, resist and ultimately eradicate street harassment. While numerous anti-harassment initiatives have mobilised around the world in the last 10-15 years, deploying a diverse and creative range of off- and online actions, to date there is no academic research on the movement’s formation or global expansion. My project examines the emergence and development of the movement, focusing on the enabling role of digital technologies and the personal motivations of anti-harassment activists. I adopt a feminist methodological approach and my primary method of data collection is semi-structured interviewing. I have conducted 35 interviews with activists based in 11 countries: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Egypt, Germany, India, Lebanon, Mexico, Peru, the UK and the US.

I am supervised by Professor Eric Herring and Professor Jutta Weldes.


Issues in World Politics

Introduction to International Relations

Approaches to the Study of Political Science

Fields of interest

Feminist resistance and activism, particularly in relation to street harassment and sexual violence, ‘everyday’ in/security, and feminism and world politics.

Latest publications

  1. Desborough, K, 2018, ‘The Global Street Harassment Movement: Digitally Enabled Feminist Activism’. in: Jacqueline R Vickery, Everbach Tracy (eds) Mediating Misogyny: Gender, Technology, and Harassment. Palgrave Macmillan
  2. Rodari, P, Bultitude, K & Desborough, K, 2012, ‘Science communication between researchers and policy makers.: Reflections from a European project.’. Journal of Science Communication, vol 11.

Full publications list in the University of Bristol publications system

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