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Controlling darkness : self, dark and the domestic night.

Shaw, Robert (2015) 'Controlling darkness : self, dark and the domestic night.', Cultural geographies., 22 (4). pp. 585-600.


Social science research into darkness (and light) has largely focused on public spaces. In particular it has been interested in night-time cityscapes, but also spaces of leisure and rural landscapes. This paper instead turns its eye towards the more private experiences of darkness in the home. In this paper I look to explore the active role that darkness plays in constituting our relation to the home, arguing that it takes on a central role. Drawing on phenomenological arguments about experience of dark, I argue that in darkness the self is rendered more open to the other. The ability to choose the conditions in which this openness to the other is experienced becomes important: where power over this choice exists, openness can be experienced as conviviality or intimacy; where power is absent, this openness is more likely to be experienced as vulnerability. As such, controlling darkness in the home is an act of power. This argument is then explored through a study of various trends in geography and social science research into the home, focusing on how the home can slide between poles of security and protection, and insecurity and danger. Though speculative, this paper seeks to set out new ground for research, and new understandings for existing knowledge about darkness and the home.

Item Type:Article
Keywords:Affect, Darkness, Home, Intimacy, Night, Phenomenology, Relaxation, Subjectivity, Violence.
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Publisher statement:Shaw, Robert (2015) 'Controlling darkness : self, dark and the domestic night.', Cultural geographies., 22 (4). pp. 585-600. © The Author(s) 2014. Reprinted by permission of SAGE Publications.
Record Created:23 Jun 2014 09:50
Last Modified:07 Mar 2018 16:15

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