CFP: Violence, Temporality, and Layers of Harm: Broadening the Lens on Domestic Violence

CFP: Violence, Temporality, and Layers of Harm: Broadening the Lens on Domestic Violence

Panel Organizers: Allison Bloom (Rutgers) and Amrapali Maitra (Stanford)

Panel Discussant: Hillary Haldane (Quinnipiac)


As a field that produces intimate knowledge through proximity to cultural worlds over time, anthropology has been uniquely positioned to witness forms of domestic violence across the globe. The close relationship between intimacy and harm has been a troubling presence in the social sciences, one that has been both taken up directly as an object of study and lingering quietly just below the ethnographic surface. It is perhaps because of the unsettling nature of this form of violence that we find that domestic violence, despite its pervasive presence worldwide, is relatively understudied in our field.


Nevertheless, from the 1970s onwards, there have been significant explorations of domestic violence across various cultural contexts (Counts, Brown and Campbell 1992, 1999; Abraham 2000; Merry 2000; Goldstein 2003; Plesset 2006; McClusky 2001; Lazarus-Black 2007; Wies and Haldane 2011). However, positioned within the quotidian, this type of analysis has often been sidelined as its own subfield of gender-based violence. Thus, the scope of this subset of literature has been limited in its ability to converse more broadly with ethnography on multiple forms of violence outside gendered identities and relationships, like poverty or homelessness, despite its intention to do so (Wies 2008). Simultaneously, advocacy efforts to address domestic violence both in the U.S. and globally have also been narrow in definition and scope through a “pragmatic” rather than long-term or comprehensive ethic of care (Parson 2013), leaving front- line workers to assist survivors in spite of surrounding webs of additional structural and interpersonal violence (Wies and Haldane 2011). This parallel history of constructing domestic violence as a bounded concept both in scholarship and spaces of intervention has obscured the ways in which intimate partner violence is deeply intertwined with other types of harm.


Thus, in this panel we seek to explore domestic violence through a broader lens, asking: How is domestic violence layered with other types of violence? How do these accumulating forms of violence shift throughout the course of a person’s lifetime? And lastly, what embodied effects, modes of violence, or forms of life does this layering produce?


As we continue to reinforce why “anthropology matters” across emerging political, medical and educational landscapes, in this panel we will explore why anthropology is important for studying domestic violence, and why studying domestic violence is important for anthropology. Conceptualizing domestic violence as both ordinary and extraordinary, we assert the need for considering this type of violence more deeply and broadly across the anthropological canon to contemplate what categories like domestic violence or gender-based violence can foreclose or produce.


We welcome submissions that may address, without being limited to, one or more of the following set of topics:


  • The intersection between domestic violence and other violent experiences of marginalization: class, race, labor, migration history, gender identity and sexual orientation, documentation status, among many others.
  • How institutions of care attend to or ignore layered experiences of harm.
  • The intersection of domestic violence and aging: how do experiences and interventions around abuse look different as life cycles progress?
  • The limitations of ‘domestic violence’ as an analytical category, with reference to language, kinship, gender, and social and cultural life in various geographical contexts.
  • A critique of the uses of culture and/or human rights as lenses in framing the problem of domestic violence or the interventions that address it.
  • How style, genre, and affect shape the ethical and political task of writing ethnographically about domestic violence.
  • How categories of knowledge create their own forms of evidence, with historical or ethnographic attention to the use and mobilization of categories like domestic violence, gender-based violence, and/or structural violence in scholarship, spaces of intervention, or everyday life.

Please send a title and brief abstract (250 words) to Allison Bloom ( and Amrapali Maitra ( by Friday, April 7, 2017.