Domestic Violence: The Limits and Possibilities of a Concept

Organized by Barbara Nagel
October 4–5, 2018
Thursday – Friday
Betts Auditorium
October 4: 4:30 – 6:00 pm
October 5: 9:30 am – 4:45 pm
artwork by Ran Ortner

Artwork by Ran Ortner

This one and a half-day conference seeks to start an interdisciplinary conversation on domestic violence, as a legal, political, anthropological, and psychoanalytic concept but also as an aesthetic and representational problem. Domestic violence will be addressed both as an object of historical inquiry and as an urgent contemporary question (e.g., in relation to new legislation in Turkey and in Russia as well as in regard to a U.S. president who was accused of rape in the divorce depositions of his wife). Speakers will analyze domestic violence as a blind spot, a present absence, or an unsaid in certain discourses and representations and pay particular attention to the structural interrelation of domestic violence with other forms of violence (state violence, racial violence, heteronormativity, mass shootings, etc.). We hope to bring together different communities and disciplines on campus to think through an incredibly difficult topic, which not only takes an emotional toll, but which also is conceptually demanding; whereas most conversations err on the side of the concrete and thus study domestic violence only empirically, our conference insists upon a critical, speculative perspective.

Conference Overview

Oct. 4, 2018


Introduction: Barbara Nagel (German, Princeton)

Artist remarks: Ran Ortner

Zeynep Direk (Philosophy, Koç University, Istanbul), “Confronting Domestic Violence in Turkey: Feminism and the Public Space”


Friday, Oct. 5, 2018


Moderation: Regina Kunzel (Gender and Sexuality/ History, Princeton)

Shatema Threadcraft (Government, Dartmouth College), “Making All Black Deaths Matter: On Intersectional Power and Lethal Intimate Partner Violence”

Michael Snediker (English, University of Houston), “Tender Epicenter: Figuration and the Substance of Duress”

11:30–1pm Lunch Break


Moderation: Ekédi Mpondo-Dika (Sociology, Princeton)

Martin Harries (English, University of California, Irvine), “Learning Sexual Violence with Tennessee Williams”

Eunice Lee (Co-Legal Director, Hastings Center for Gender and Refugee Studies, University of California), “Domestic Violence, Asylum, and the Law”

3–3:30pm Coffee Break


Moderation: Daniel Hoffman-Schwartz (Comparative Literature, Princeton)

Silke-Maria Weineck (Comparative Literature/German, University of Michigan), “’Emergency God’: Stockholm Syndrome and the Family”