Silence as a Response to Everyday Violence: Understanding Domination and Distress through the Lens of Fantasy

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Across the world, existing research indicates that many women respond with silence to marital abuse. This article offers an ethnographic investigation of the social and psychic forces behind Vietnamese women’s silencing of violence and a theoretical exploration of how the psychoanalytic concept of fantasy—understood as unconscious or subconscious mental processes—may contribute to the analysis of everyday violence and psychic distress. Distinguishing between what I term deliberate and subconscious silence, I explore the role that fantasy plays when Vietnamese women silently endure intimate partner violence. Closer ethnographic attention to the fantasy-constructions that sustain day-to-day lives can, I argue, strengthen the capacity of anthropology to comprehend how systems of everyday violence are upheld and rendered socially invisible.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEthos (Malden)
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)427-447
Publication statusPublished - 2016

ID: 146237263