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Heather R. Hlavka, PhD

Sociology, Socio-Legal Studies
Gender & Intersectionality
Sexual Violence, Trauma, Healing
Narrative & Discourse Analysis
Feminist Qualitative Methods & Embodiment
Restorative & Transformative Justice
Science & Technology Studies


As a feminist socio-legal scholar, my research on gender violence and intersectionality is informed by trauma-informed methods and survivor-led ethics. I am interested in the cultural and socio-legal responses to sexual violence, the discursive influences that contribute to a culture of gendered and racialized violence and control, and how medico-legal systems, science, and technology contribute to and reproduce these violences. This work has informed my commitments to the transformative possibilities for justice and healing outside of the carceral state. 

I began my work on gender violence as a first-generation college student, activist, and sexual violence advocate. My research is deeply informed by my work in rape crisis counseling and response, group facilitation, and community education. I seek to extend research on racialized-gender violence with a commitment to engaged scholarship that works to bridge research, theory, and practice through a critical carceral lens. I have published on child sexual violence, language and discourse, courtroom and cultural narratives of rape, science, and technology in sexual assault adjudication, and embodied feminist research methodology and ethics in academic journals and books, research reports, white-papers, and media/press.

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Research & Teaching Interests


June 2023- May 2024

August 2021

Restorative Practices Training, Marquette University
Circles Training & Restorative Justice, Andrew Center for Restorative Justice

Embodied Social Justice, 50-hour certification program. 
Concentration: Embodiment and unjust social conditions; oppression and social justice work; community change grounded in responsive, collective, and sustainable strategies. Integrative embodied practices and methods. 

Ph.D. Sociology

May 2008

University of Minnesota - Twin Cities
Concentration: Criminology and Law Studies
Minor concentrations: Social Psychology/ Women and Gender Studies
The Trouble with Telling: Children's Constructions of Sexual Abuse. Ph.D. dissertation

B.A. Sociology 

May 1998

University of Minnesota - Twin Cities
Concentration: Criminology and Law Studies
Minor concentrations: Psychology, Women and Gender Studies

Research and Teaching Interests


Gender & intersectionality, sexual & interpersonal violence, trauma, socio-legal studies, children & youth, legal subjectivity, science and technology studies, discourse and narrative analysis, qualitative feminist research methods, embodiment and transformative justice

Positions Held

Associate Professor

2016 - 2022

Department of Social and Cultural Sciences
Criminology and Law Studies
Marquette University 
Milwaukee, WI


2023 - current

Co-Chair, Social Action Committee

2021 - 2024

On-Call Advocate
Crisis Intervention

2016 - current

Sexual Violence Advocacy Network
Marquette University
Milwaukee, WI

Associate Fellow

2022 - current

Sexual Harms and Medical Encounters (SHaME) is a research project exploring the role of medicine and psychiatry in sexual violence - moving beyond shame.

Expert Witness


Sexual Violence, Trauma, Systems
Discourse and Narrative Analysis/Language
Qualitative Research Design/Ethics

Assistant Professor

2008 - 2016

Department of Social and Cultural Sciences

Criminology and Law Studies
Marquette University
Milwaukee, WI

Graduate Fellowship

2007 - 2008

College of Liberal Arts 
University of Minnesota - Twin Cities
Minneapolis, MN

Instructor &
Research Assistant


Department of Sociology
University of Minnesota – Twin Cities
Minneapolis, MN

Group Facilitation
On-call Crisis Intervention

2003 - 2007

Neighborhood Involvement Program (NIP)
Rape & Sexual Abuse Center
Minneapolis, MN


1998 - 2001

McCutchen, Doyle, Brown & Enersen, LLP

Environmental Litigation
Los Angeles, CA

Peer/Community Advocate
On-call Crisis Intervention

1996 - 1998

The Aurora Center
(formally Sexual Violence Program)
University of Minnesota - Twin Cities
Minneapolis, MN

Modern Structure

Affiliated Positions Held

2023-2024                Research Fellow                       Institute for Women's Leadership (IWL) 
2021-2024                 Co-Chair                                     Social Action Committee, Sociologists for                                                                                               Women in Society (SWS) 

2022 – present        Associate Research Fellow    Sexual Harm and Medical Encounters 

                                                                                       (SHaME), University of London

2017 – present        Affiliated Faculty & 
                                  Faculty Advisory Board            Institute for Women's Leadership (IWL) 

2017 – present        Faculty Advisory Board            Center for Urban Research, Teaching, and 

                                                                                       Outreach (CURTO) 

2015 - present        On-call Advocate                      Marquette University Sexual Assault         

                                                                                       Advocacy Network 
2015 - present        Faculty Mentor/Member         First Gen Network, Marquette University

Heather Hlavka Sameena Mulla

New York University Press, 2021
30% Discount Code: BodiesinEvidence30-FM

Bodies in Evidence draws on observations of over 680 court appearances in Milwaukee County’s felony sexual assault courts, and interviews with judges, attorneys, forensic scientists, jurors, sexual assault nurse examiners, and victim advocates. It shows how forensic science helps to propagate public misunderstandings of sexual violence by bestowing an aura of authority to race and gender stereotypes and inequalities. The court’s reliance on the presence of forensic evidence infuses these very familiar stereotypes and myths about sexual assault with new scientific authority. These expert narratives intersect with the stories of victims, witnesses, and their communities to reproduce our cultural understandings of sexual violence, but too often this process results in reinscribing racial, gendered, and class inequalities.

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Select Publications

Hennessy Garza, R., Cho, Y, Hlavka, H., Weinhardt, L., Yasin, T., Smith, S., Adler, K., Otto, K., and Florsheim, P. 2022. “A Multi-Topic Bystander Intervention Program for Upper-Level Undergraduate Students: Outcomes in Sexual Violence, Racism, and High-Risk Alcohol Situations.Journal of Interpersonal Violence. on-line

Hlavka, Heather and Sameena Mulla. Bodies in Evidence: Race, Gender, and Science in Sexual Assault Adjudication. New York University Press.
       Winner of the American Ethnological Society (AES) Senior Book Award; Association of Feminist Anthropology (AFA) Senior Book Award, Honorable Mention; and Choice Outstanding Academic Title 2022

Powell, Amber Joy, Sameena Mulla, and Heather R. Hlavka. "Intersectionality in the Courts: Collaborative Feminist Ethnography of Sexual Assault Adjudication." In Petillo and Hlavka (Eds) Researching Gender-based Violence: Embodied and Intersectional Approaches. New York University Press. 

Petillo, April and Heather R. Hlavka. "Embodied and Entangled: Addressing the Methodological Challenges of Feminist Gender Violence Research." In Petillo and Hlavka (Eds) Researching Gender-based Violence: Embodied and Intersectional Approaches. New York University Press. 

Hlavka, Heather and Sameena Mulla. 2020. “Thinking Forensically: Law, Medicine, and the Nomos of Sexual Violence” Pages 232-254 in the Research Handbook of Law, Medicine and Society, Jacobs and Kirkland, eds., Edward Elgar Publishing.

Hlavka, Heather. 2019. “Regulating Bodies: Children and Sexual Violence.” Violence Against Women. 25(6): 1956-1979.

Hlavka, Heather and Sameena Mulla.  2018. “That’s How She Talks”: Animating Text Message Evidence in the Sexual Assault Trial.” Law & Society Review. 52(2): 401-435.


Hlavka, Heather. 2017. “Speaking of Stigma and the Silence of Shame: Young Men and Sexual Victimization.” Men and Masculinities. 20(4): 482-505.
  *Reproduction: ChildFirst™ – state and international training programs 

Powell, Amber Joy, Heather Hlavka, and Sameena Mulla. 2017. “Intersectionality and Credibility in Child Sexual Assault Trials.” Gender & Society. 31(4): 457-480.

Hlavka, Heather, Darren Wheelock, and Jennifer Cossyleon. 2015. “Narratives of Commitment: Looking for Work with a Criminal Record.” The Sociological Quarterly. 56: 213 - 236.


Hlavka, Heather. 2014. “Normalizing Sexual Violence: Young Women Account for Harassment and Abuse.” Gender & Society 28:337-358.
**Reproduction: Gender Through the Prism of Difference. 5th Edition. 2015. Edited by Maxine Baca Zinn, Pierretted Hondagneu-Sotelo, Michael Messner, and Amy Denissen. Oxford University Press.

Hlavka, Heather. 2013. “Legal Subjectivity among Youth Victims of Sexual Abuse.” Law & Social Inquiry 39:31-61.

Mulla, Sameena and Heather Hlavka. 2011. “Gendered Violence and the Ethics of Social Science Research.” Violence Against Women 17:1509-1520.


Hlavka, Heather R., Sara D. Olinger and Jodi L. Lashley. 2010. “The Use of Anatomical Dolls as a Demonstration Aid in Child Sexual Abuse Interviews: A Study of Forensic Interviewers’ Perceptions.”
Journal of Child Sexual Abuse 19:519-553

**Reproductions: Gundersen’s National Child Protection Training Center 
ChildFirst™ – state and international training programs

Hlavka, Heather R. 2010. “Child Sexual Abuse and Embodiment” Sociological Studies of Children and Youth 13:131-165. ISBN: 978-1-84950-734-9


Select Grants, Awards, Honors


2022 American Ethnological Society (AES) Senior Book Award for Bodies in Evidence

2022 Association of Feminist Anthropology (AFA) Senior Book Award, Honorable Mention for Bodies in Evidence

2022 Choice Outstanding Academic Title for Bodies in Evidence

2022 Mellon Grant, Embodied Empowerment Collective (ECC), $10,000

2021 Presidential Challenge Grant, Restorative Justice in Movement (RJM)
The Milwaukee Turners/Marquette University $49,000


2021 Institute for Women's Leadership (IWL), Restorative Justice in Movement (RJM), Marquette University $15,000


2020 Presidential Challenge Grant, When "Safer at Home" isn't Safe, Sojourner Family Peace Center/Marquette University $35,000

2020 Curriculum Development, Transformative Justice, Center for Peacemaking, Marquette University. $2,500

2020 Summer Research Institute, Marquette University $1,000

2018 Civic Dialogue Faculty Leadership Program and Grant, Center for Teaching and Learning and the Center for Gender and Sexuality, 2018-2019, College of Arts and Sciences. $500

2017 National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Summer Institute. “Diverse Philosophical Approaches to Sexual Violence.” $2,100

2016 Women’s International Study Center (WISC) In-Residence Writing Fellowship approx. $2,500

2014 Gender and Sexuality Resource Center Faculty Grant. Marquette University. $2,000

2014 Rynne Faculty Research Fellowship. “The Violence of the (Virtual) Word: The Role of Social Media and Communication Technology in Adjudicating Sexual Assault.” Center for Peacemaking. $1,400

2013 National Science Foundation (NSF): Law and Social Sciences Supplemental Award for Research

Experiences for Undergraduates. $9,724 (total award, $109,766)

2013  National Science Foundation (NSF): Law and Social Sciences Research Grant. Trace, Body, Voice: Sexual Assault Adjudication, $100,042

2011 Faculty Forward Thinking-Jumpstart Grant. Marquette University. $1,000

2011 Regular Research Grant. Marquette University. $9,965.00

2011 Lilly Foundation Endowment: Scholarship of Engagement Faculty Learning Community. $1,000

2009 Summer Faculty Fellowship. Marquette University. $5,000

2009 Regular Research Grant. Marquette University. $5,500


2007 Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship. University of Minnesota Graduate School. $21,500

2005 Anna Welsch Bright Research Fellowship. University of Minnesota. $3,000

2004 Graduate Research Partnership Program. College of Liberal Arts, University of Minnesota. $5,000


2019 Featured research and teaching exercises: In the Classroom Teaching Module: Sexual Harassment Sociologists for Women in Society (SWS)


2016 Sabbatical Fellowship Award, 2017-2018, Klingler College of Arts and Sciences

2014 Most downloaded paper. “Normalizing Sexual Violence: Young Women Account for Harassment and

Abuse.” Gender & Society. Sociologists for Women in Society (SWS)

2014 Excellence in Faculty Advising Awardee, College of Arts and Sciences. Marquette University

2014 Faculty Research Award. Social and Cultural Sciences Department. Marquette University

2011 Best article award nominee and runner-up. “Gendered Violence and the Ethics of Social Science Research.” Journal of Violence Against Women

2010, 2013, 2014, 2016, 2019 Excellence in Advising Award Nominee, College of Arts and Sciences. Marquette University

2007 Outstanding Graduate Instructor Award. Department of Sociology, University of Minnesota

Affiliations & Service

University & College

Ronald E. McNair Program Mentor
MU4Gold Research Program Mentor
First Generation College Student Network Member and Mentor
Honors Mentorship Program Mentor
Sexual Violence Advocacy Network, Title IX & Safe Zone
Institute for Women's Leadership (IWL) Advisory Board Member
Center for Urban Research, Teaching, and Outreach (CURTO) Advisory Board Member
Faculty Hearing Committee (FHC)
Committee on Teaching (COT)
Steering Committee Member, Culturally Sensitive Research and Ethics, Office of Community Engagement
Faculty Hearing Committee Member
Title IX Task Force Committee Member
Center for Gender & Sexuality Studies (CGSS) Task Force Committee Member

Department of Social & Cultural Sciences

Ronald E. McNair Program Mentor
 & Law Studies Committee Chair, Assessment Leader, Member
Major Committees: Sociology, Anthropology, Social Welfare and Justice Member
Committee on Faculty Development
McGee Lecture Committee Member

Department Advisory Committee Member
Undergraduate Research Committee Member
Assessment Committee 

Founder and Co-Coordinator, Marquette Legal Education and Research Network (mLearn)


The Milwaukee Turners, Milwaukee WI
 Family Peace Center, Milwaukee WI
Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Assault, Milwaukee WI
Milwaukee Commission on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, Milwaukee, WI
Safe and Sound, Non-profit Organization for Community Violence Reduction, Milwaukee, WI
Project RETURN, Non-profit Organization, Milwaukee WI
Interagency Child Abuse Evaluation and Training Center, Minneapolis, MN
The Neighborhood Involvement Program, Rape and Sexual Abuse Center. Minneapolis, MN
WATCH Court Monitoring, Minneapolis, MN

Professional Associations

American Society of Criminology (ASC)
American Sociological Association (ASA)
Law and Society Association (LSA)
National Women's Studies Association (NWSA)
Sociologists for Women in Society (SWS)

   2021- Co-chair, Social Action Committee 
Society for the Study of Social Problems (SSSP)

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