Towards a politics of uncertainty: difficulties of naming the relationship between gender and violence

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Maria CarbinUniversity of Umeå, Sweden

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This article discusses how the relationship between gender and violence can be articulated, both in policy and theory, in order to unsettle the feminist orthodoxy that equates gender-based violence with violence against (heterosexual, white) women. Through an interview study with Swedish policymakers in public-sector healthcare, the author discusses the work done by different conceptualisations, in particular the new and seemingly neutral category of ‘violence within close relationships’, and shows that there is a need to open up a discussion about the ambiguities involved in trying to find the right language to talk about the relationship between gender and violence. While uncertainty and anxiety are often regarded as negative feelings, as something to be overcome, this article argues that holding onto doubts about the possibility of fixing meaning helps to avoid reduced understandings. Thus, the attempt to lay down one correct version should be dismissed, and instead the author emphasises the need for a politics of uncertainty – both in policy and theory.

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Maria CarbinUniversity of Umeå, Sweden

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