PROGRESS IN GEOGRAPHY ›› 2020, Vol. 39 ›› Issue (1): 143-152.doi: 10.18306/dlkxjz.2020.01.014

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Beyond the public/private dichotomy: The study of domestic violence in feminist geography

XIAO Hongyuan1,2, WANG Mingfeng1,2,*()   

  1. 1. The Center for Modern Chinese City Studies, East China Normal University, Shanghai 200062, China
    2. School of Urban and Regional Science, East China Normal University, Shanghai 200241, China
  • Received:2019-01-21 Revised:2019-03-21 Online:2020-01-28 Published:2020-03-28
  • Contact: WANG Mingfeng


Human geographers gain insights into social phenomena through home. Domestic violence has become a research object along with the cultural turn in Western human geography and the rise of feminist studies. Under the dual influence of feminist social criticism and the spatial perspective of geography, feminist geographers focus on women's spatial and emotional experiences, unfolding the violence against women in the home. Starting with the introduction of the concept of "domestic violence" and the public/private dichotomy, this article points out the spatial concealment of domestic violence and introduces the research path of domestic violence issue in feminist geography, that is, to discuss domestic violence beyond the public/private dichotomy of space by examining the meaning construction of home as private space and the broader geographical environment for tolerating the existence of domestic violence. Based on the review of related international research, this article summarizes feminist geographic research of domestic violence on three scales: home, community/neighborhood, and global and national. Following the scale logic, this article concludes the findings of academic significance and provides insights on the trend of future geographic research of domestic violence issue. The implicit assumptions of home within analyses of domestic violence require further examination. The analysis of home in material, functional, and symbolic dimensions reveals the spatial control and oppression on women. The two perspectives of material determinism logic and sociocultural logic provide insights into the characteristics of community environment in which domestic violence persists and their inherent policy and institutional exclusion to women. The research on the connections between domestic violence and terrorism and warfare reflects that violence on the micro scale intertwined with larger (geopolitical) processes, which can remap the debate about safety in political geography.

Key words: domestic violence, public/private dichotomy, feminism, scale