Intimate Violence and Authoritarian Rule: Feminism in an Expanding Private Sphere
In an era of diminishing public life and an ever-expanding private sphere, longstanding feminist conversations about the relationship between public and private, between personal and political, and between structural and intimate violence are increasingly important resources for general analyses of late capitalism. What does "the household" mean in conditions of mass un- or under-employment? What burdens does the personal bear in increasingly privatized life? A new claustrophobia seems to be attending social relations, exerting pressure on intimate and household relations in ways both familiar and strange. In a working- and under-class neighbourhood of Cape Town, this claustrophobia expresses itself in high rates of legal interdict between intimates, negotiated through police regulation of household and neighborly relationships. Such legal intervention is a sign of an emerging social configuration between intimacy and authority that attends endemic privatisation.
Kelly Gillespie is Chair of the Department of Anthropology at the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits). She is a political and legal anthropologist with a research focus on criminal justice in South Africa. She is particularly concerned with the ways in which criminal justice has become a vector for the continuation of apartheid relations and is completing a book project to this end titled Idle Acts: Criminality and the Dialectics of Punishment in Post-Apartheid.