Representing Slow Violence and Resistance

On Hiding and Seeing

  • Caitlin Cahill Pratt Institute
  • Rachel Pain Newcastle University
Keywords: slow violence, violence, representation, resistance, feminist, antiracist


Focusing on representations of violence and its resistance, this special issue engages and troubles Nixon’s conceptualization of slow violence, contributing feminist and antiracist perspectives. Nixon’s (2011) theorization of slow violence has recently seen growing interest among geographers and researchers across disciplines who are grappling with the multi-faceted nature of violence across politics, culture and history. In this issue, authors draw on the concept of slow violence to explore social and environmental injustices in the toxic sites of waste, racialized surveillance of food landscapes, caregiving, policing in gentrifying neighborhoods, and the dismantling of social housing provision. The papers gathered here document what Said (2001) called “the normalized quiet of unseen power” of making visible the invisible, while also raising critical questions of witnessing, surveillance, silencing, and refusal. What the papers have in common is an insistence that it is not only violence that is unseen, but the people themselves whose humanity is unrecognized and whose material struggles are disappeared (as made evident in “Black Lives Matter”). Collectively, we foreground the perspectives of those most affected by violence with the understanding that not only do they hold deep knowledge about their lives and experience, but that their particular vantage point is critical in understanding structural inequalities (Smith 2013; Torre, Stoudt, Manoff, & Fine 2017; Tuck & Yang 2014).



Anguelovski, Isabelle 2013. New directions in urban environmental justice: Rebuilding community, addressing trauma, and remaking place. Journal of Planning Education and Research 33, 2, 160–175.

Altvater, Elmar, Crist, Eileen, Haraway, Donna J., Hartley, Daniel, Parenti, Christian., & McBrien, Justin 2016. Anthropocene or capitalocene?: Nature, history, and the crisis of capitalism. Pm Press.

Askins, Kye. 2015. Being together: everyday geographies and the quiet politics of befriending. ACME: An International E-Journal for Critical Geographies. 14, 2, 461-469.

Baldwin, James. 1985. The Evidence of Things Not Seen. New York: Henry Holt.

Browne, Simone. 2015. Dark matters: On the surveillance of blackness. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

Brydolf-Horowitz, Rachel. 2018. Embodied and entangled: Slow violence and harm via digital technologies. Environment and Planning C: Politics and Space.

Cacho, Lisa Marie 2012. Social death: Racialized rightlessness and the criminalization of the unprotected. NYU Press.

Cahill, Caitlin. 2007 The Personal is Political: Developing new subjectivities through participatory action research. Gender, Place & Culture, 14:3, 267-292.

Cahill, Caitlin. 2015. A blade of grass: Young people, slow violence, and the struggle over social reproduction. The Gender, Place, and Culture Jan Monk Distinguished Feminist Geography Annual Lecture, Annual Association of American Geographers, Chicago, IL.

Cahill, Caitlin and Torre, Maria E. 2007. Beyond the journal article: representations, audience, and the presentation of Participatory Action Research. In Sara Kindon, Rachel Pain and Mike Kesby (eds) Participatory action research approaches and methods. London: Routledge, 196-205.

Christian, Jenna, Dowler, Lorraine and Cuomo, Dana. 2016. Fear, feminist geopolitics and the hot and banal. Political Geography, 54, 64-72.

Davies, Thom. Forthcoming. Slow violence and toxic geographies: 'Out of sight' to whom? Environment and Planning C: Politics and Space.

Dawson, Michael C. 2016. Hidden in Plain Sight: A Note on Legitimation Crises and the Racial Order. Critical Historical Studies 3(): 143–161,

Dawson, Ashley. 2017. Extreme cities: The peril and promise of urban life in the age of climate change. New York: Verso Books.

De Leuuw, Sarah. 2016. Tender grounds: Intimate visceral violence and British Columbia's colonial geographies. Political Geography 52, 14-23.

Dowler, Lorraine & Sharp, Joanne. 2001. A Feminist Geopolitics? Space & Polity, 5, 165–176.

Fine, Michelle. 2016. Just methods in revolting times. Qualitative Research in Psychology, 13(4), 347–365.

Fine, Michelle & Torre, María Elena. 2004. Re-membering exclusions: Participatory action research in public institutions. Qualitative Research in Psychology, 1(1), 15-37.

Fraser, Nancy. 1995. From redistribution to recognition? Dilemmas of justice in a’post-socialist’age. New Left Review, 68–68.

Fullilove, Mindy. 2004. Root Shock: How Tearing Up Urban Neighborhoods Hurts America, and What We Can Do About It. New York: Random House.

Galtung, Johan. 1969. Violence, peace, and peace research. Journal of Peace Research 6(3): 167–191.

George, Nicole. 2014. Promoting women, peace and security in the Pacific Islands: Hot conflict/slow violence. Australian Journal of International Affairs 68, 3, 314–332.

Gilmore, Ruth M. 2007. Golden Gulag: Prisons, Surplus, Crisis, and Opposition in Globalizing California University of California Press, Berkeley.

Hanhardt, Christina B. 2013. Safe space: Gay neighborhood history and the politics of violence. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

Hannah-Jones, Nikole. 2019. Our democracy’s founding ideals were false when they were written. Black Americans have fought to make them true. New York Times Sunday Magazine. August 14.

Haraway, Donna 2002. The Persistence of Vision. In N. Mirzoeff (Ed.), The visual culture reader. (pp. 677–684). Psychology Press.

Haraway, Donna. 1988. Situated Knowledges: The Science Question in Feminism and the Privilege of Partial Perspective. Feminist Studies, 14, 3, 575-59.

Hartman, Saidiya. 2008. Lose your mother: A journey along the Atlantic slave route. Macmillan.

hooks, bell. 1990. Choosing the Margin as a Space of Radical Openness. In Yearning: Race, Gender, and Cultural Politics. Boston: South End Press.

hooks, bell. 2003. Lasting trauma. In hooks b, Rock My Soul: Black People and Self Esteem. New York: Atria Books.

Hyndman, Jennifer. 2003. Beyond either/or: a feminist analysis of September 11th. ACME: An International E-Journal for Critical Geographies. 2, 1–13.

Inwood, Joshua & Anne Bonds. 2016. Confronting White Supremacy and a Militaristic Pedagogy in the U.S. Settler Colonial State. Annals of the American Association of Geographers 106, 3, 521-529.

Kern, Leslie. 2016. Rhythms of gentrification: eventfulness and slow violence in a happening neighborhood. Cultural Geographies 23, 3, 441-457.

Laurie, Emma W. and Shaw, Ian G. R. 2018. Violent conditions: The injustices of being. Political Geography 65, 8–16.

Lorde, Audre. 1984. The transformation of silence into language and action. Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches, 81–84.

Mahtani, Minelle. 2014. Toxic geographies: absences in critical race thought and practice in social and cultural geography. Social & Cultural Geography, 15, 4, 359-367.

McKittrick, Katherine. 2011, On plantations, prisons, and a black sense of place. Social and Cultural Geography 12, 8, 947–963.

McKittrick, Katherine. 2013. Plantation futures. Small Axe, 17(3 42), 1–15.

Mirzoeff, Nicholas. 2017. All The Monuments Must Fall #Charlottesville (retrieved August 18, 2019).

Moraga, Cheri & Anzaldúa, Gloria. 1981. This bridge called my back: Writings by radical women of color. New York: Kitchen Table, Women of Color Press.

Mountz, Alison, 2017. Island detention: affective eruption as trauma’s disruption. Emotion, Space and Society 24, 74-82.

Mountz, Alison & Hyndman, Jen. 2006. Feminist approaches to the global intimate. Women's Studies Quarterly, 34(1/2), 446-463.

Nixon, Rob. 2009. Neoliberalism, Slow Violence, and the Environmental Picaresque. MFS Modern Fiction Studies 55, 3, 443-467. (accessed August 30, 2019).

Nixon, Rob. 2011. Slow Violence and the Environmentalism of the Poor. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

O’Lear, Shannon. 2016. Climate science and slow violence: A view from political geography and STS on mobilizing technoscientific ontologies of climate change. Political Geography 52, 4-13.

Pain, Rachel. 2015. Intimate war. Political Geography 44, 64-73.

Pain, Rachel. 2019. Chronic urban trauma: the slow violence of housing dispossession. Urban Studies. 56(2) 385–400.

Pain, Rachel and Cahill, Caitlin. In preparation. The spatial politics of slow violence. Environment and Planning C: Politics and Space.

Pratt, Geraldine and Rosner, Victoria. 2006. Introduction: the global and the intimate. Women’s Studies Quarterly 34, 13–24.

Rezwana, Nahid and Pain, Rachel. 2019. Slow violence and layered disasters: Gender-based violence before, during and after cyclones. Unpublished paper, Dhaka University.

Rizvi, Uzma. Z. 2015. Decolonizing archaeology: On the global heritage of epistemic laziness. Two Days after Forever: A Reader on the Choreography of Time, 154–63.

Said, Edward W. 2001. The Public Role of Writers and Intellectuals. Nation, 273(8), 27–33.

Sharpe, Christina. 2016. In the wake: On blackness and being. Duke University Press.

Smith, Linda Tuhiwai. 2013. Decolonizing methodologies: Research and indigenous peoples. Zed Books Ltd.

Solorzano, Daniel G., & Bernal, Dolores Delgado 2001. Examining transformational resistance through a critical race and LatCrit theory framework Chicana and Chicano students in an urban context. Urban Education 36, 3, 308–342.

Staeheli, Lynn. 1994. Empowering political struggle: spaces and scales of resistance, Political Geography 13, 5, 387–391.

Tamas, Sophie. 2011. Life After Leaving: The Remains of Spousal Abuse. Walnut Creek, CA: Left Coast Press.

Torre, María Elena; Stoudt, Brett; Manoff, Einat; & Fine, Michelle. 2017. Critical Participatory Action Research on State Violence: Bearing Wit(h)ness Across Fault Lines of Power, Privilege, and Dispossession. In N. K. Denzin & Y. S. Lincoln (Eds.), The SAGE Handbook of Qualitative Research (Fifth edition, pp. 492–523). Los Angeles: SAGE Publications, Inc.

Tuck, Eve. 2009. Suspending damage: a letter to communities. Harvard Educational Review, 79, 3, 409-27.

Tuck, Eve & Yang, K. Wayne. 2014. R-words: Refusing research. Humanizing Research: Decolonizing Qualitative Inquiry with Youth and Communities, 223–248.

Wright, Melissa W. 2006. Disposable Women and Other Myths of Global Capitalism. New York: Routledge.

Yancy, George, & Butler, Judith. 2015, January 12. What’s Wrong With ‘All Lives Matter’? New York Times.

Mary Zaborskis. 2016. Sexual Orphanings. GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies 22(4): 605–28.
How to Cite
Cahill, Caitlin, and Rachel Pain. 2019. “Representing Slow Violence and Resistance”. ACME: An International Journal for Critical Geographies 18 (5), 1054-65.
Special Issue - Slow Violence (Guest Eds. Caitlin Cahill & Rachel Pain)