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Seismologies of emotion: fear and activism during domestic violence

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Rachel Pain



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC-ND).


This paper explores the relation of fear to activism in private and constrainedcircumstances of chronic risk and anxiety. Asking how people contest domestic violence,given the intensity of the fear that it generates, the paper reframes their responses aspractices of activism. It draws on qualitative research that charts the nature, experienceand effects of fear over time. Using seismology as a metaphor for this process, the analysisdescribes complex and often hidden shifts in emotions over periods of years, asinterviewees describe being simultaneously constrained by fear and actively using fear tomanage and contest violence. Their practices of resistance are small scale, largely invisibleto others, and have a messy and non-linear relationship with the process of leaving thatsome eventually undertake. Such action is only necessary in a social and political climatewhich continues to place more emphasis on individual than social responsibility fordomestic violence. I examine what this resistance adds to recent accounts of activism,concluding that isolated actions constitute activism when they anticipate or engendercollective social and political change at other scales.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Pain R

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Social and Cultural Geography

Year: 2014

Volume: 15

Issue: 2

Pages: 127-150

Print publication date: 27/06/2014

Online publication date: 10/01/2014

Acceptance date: 03/01/2014

Date deposited: 24/11/2017

ISSN (print): 1464-9365

ISSN (electronic): 1470-1197

Publisher: Taylor and Francis


DOI: 10.1080/14649365.2013.862846


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