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Ethnography of Police ‘Domestic Abuse’ Interventions: Ethico-Methodological Reflections

2020, Khazaei, Faten

Departing from this deconstruction or denaturalization of home as a secure private sphere, in this chapter I draw on my own sociological research into institutional responses to domestic violence in Switzerland. I will reflect on my own ethnographic experiences of accompanying a police emergency unit intervening in such cases. The emotions and affects evoked by such events can bring into focus a specific process of home (un)making, in which I was caught, and which presented a challenge to me as an ethnographer and an analyst. My ethnography revealed the deeply contested nature of domestic space, and the lived tensions which exist between characterizations of home as an unalienated/alienated space. Attending to these tensions in my fieldwork meant resisting and deconstructing a romanticized vision of ethnographic immersion that limits the space for pain, conflict and feelings of unease as modes of knowledge production. In this chapter I explore the possibility of an intimate ethnography of violence. I suggest that emotional commitments in ethnography are not only matters to attend to reflexively but are also resources which open up the field as a space of encounter between affects.