Designing Justice

Designing Justice

Sexual Violence, Technology, and Citizen Activism


*This dissertation is funded through a Carnegie Mellon Dissertation Fellowship through the American Council of Learned Societies



Since the 1970s, there has been an explosion of citizen activism in the U.S. that similarly engages the criminal justice system, culminating in expansive networks of law enforcement professionals, institutional stakeholders, and victim advocates that enthusiastically center technology as a helpful means to prevent, report, investigate, and punish sexual violence. Indeed, there has been no shortage of victim-survivor and advocate efforts to redesign the criminal justice system through technological interventions that promises to maximize individual and institutional capabilities to prevent violence.

Renee Shelby demonstrates how sexual violence is not just an act of interpersonal violence, but also a flexible concept produced through the interaction of people, technology, and ideas about gender and race. Looking at how multiple meanings of sexual violence and justice are produced across different socio-legal moments, this project shows the competing ways technology informs institutional responses to violence. This approach reveals opportunities for how technological and regulatory systems can be altered to promote more democratic interests.

Sites and Objects of Analysis

  1. The moment of attack and commercial “smart” rape-prevention technology

  2. The experience of reporting assault and digital rape reporting apps

  3. The state’s investigation and the battle over rape kit governance

  4. Practices of punishment and the GPS tracking of convicted offenders


Sexual Violence Technologies

Articles Published from Dissertation

Value-Responsible Design and Sexual Violence Interventions: Engaging Values in the Criminological Imagination (Forthcoming)
In The Handbook on Public Criminologies. Routledge.

“I Incite This Meeting to Rebellion:” Sexual Violence, Law Enforcement, and the Radical Feminism of the 1909 Board Game Suffragetto. (Forthcoming)
ROMChip: Journal of Games Histories, 1/1.