The Rape of Nicole and the Murder of Jennifer: Gender, Sovereignty and the U.S. Military in Subic Bay, Philippines


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color photo of Victoria Reyes
Victoria Reyes, Postdoctoral Fellow, National Center for Institutional Diversity, University of Michigan
Event Date: 
March 8, 2017
Event Time: 
2239 Lane Hall
Event Accessibility : 
Ramp and elevator access at the E. Washington Street entrance (by the loading dock). There are accessible restrooms on the south end of Lane Hall, on each floor of the building. A gender neutral restroom is available on the first floor.
color photo of Victoria Reyes

In this presentation, Professor Reyes will analyze two legal cases: the rape of Filipina Nicole by Lance Corporal Daniel Smith, a U.S. Marine, and the murder of transgender Filipina Jennifer by Lance Corporal Joseph Pemberton, also a U.S. Marine.

She will demonstrate how U.S. and Philippine government officials, lawyers, judges, and activists engaged in jurisdictional boundary-making regarding who has which rights to try, convict, and punish U.S. service members who commit crimes against locals. These claims revolved around particular understandings of class, nationalism, and gender-based discrimination. The sovereignty and abilities of the nation to assert jurisdictional rights over the accused are directly linked to bodies and the extent to which Philippine officials are able to protect Filipinas from violence caused by citizens of their former colonial overlord and their ability to punish the men who violated these daughters of the nation. The ability to punish violators include not only whether they are tried in Philippine courts, but also whether the Philippines is able to maintain custody during trial and after subsequent guilty verdicts as well as dictate where and how they would be detained.


Victoria Reyes is currently a Postdoctoral Fellow at the National Center for Institutional Diversity at the University of Michigan and an Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of California, Riverside. She received her PhD from Princeton’s Department of Sociology in January 2015, and previously taught in Bryn Mawr College’s Growth and Structure of Cities Department.

Reyes is a cultural sociologist who sees culture as something that cannot be separated from other fields and relationships as the relevant unit of analysis for examining social life. her research interests include global/transnational sociology, economic sociology, urban studies, race/ethnicity, and colonialism.  More specifically, her work focuses on how culture shapes globalization and centers on three themes: places of foreign-control, the relationship between culture, power, and mobility, and qualitative methodologies.

Reyes’s work has been published in Theory and Society, City & Community, Poetics, and International Journal of Comparative Sociology, among others. She has received fellowships from the Institute of International Education (2006-2007 Fulbright Scholar to the Philippines), the National Science Foundation (Graduate Research Fellowship), and the American Sociological Association’s Minority Fellowship Program.