This thesis focuses largely upon the dilemmas of governing/managing child sexual abuse and how it is put into discourse at three select moments where law and psy based disciplines, collude and collide. The sites chosen for interrogation include The Sturgess Report (1985), The Receipt of Evidence by Queensland Courts: The Evidence of Children (Queensland Law Reform Commission, 2000) and the spoken words of five women who participated in my research. At these sites, particular sets of truth games are examined, processes of subjectification mapped out, technologies of the self identified and overall intentions of the discourse explored.
Child sexual abuse and issues of governance is not a new field, rather it is a field filled with scholarly debate and research. My work aims to make a contribution in that it interrogates the field discursively, exploring how particular discourses compete for the status of truth, how truth is established as well as how it is maintained. My work also maps out how, in the process of concretizing particular sets of truths, sets of practices become institutionalized, and attract alongside them a foray of disciplinary experts and mechanisms that invite and reward the maintenance of particular subject positions.
In operationalising a methodology largely based on Michel Foucault's notion of 'govemmentality', many of the taken for granted concepts within the child sexual abuse domain, such as justice and truth, along with the dominant images of child sexual abuse, are problematised. This allows for the recognition of particular discourses, the rules of their production, their limitations and avenues for creating space for new truths and subjectivities. The wrong of child sexual abuse is problematised, creating space for new possibilities and sets of arrangements.
In summary then, this thesis traces the dominant discourses operating at particular moments in history, mapping the rules of production, identifying the rules that delimit the sayable, locating the practices of erasure and identifying opportunities and acts of resistance.