Be(com)ing men in another place : the migrant men of Gandhi Nivas and their violent stories : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology at Massey University, Manawatū, Aotearoa New Zealand
The social issue of family violence in Aotearoa New Zealand is pervasive, profoundly gendered, and complexified through intersectionalities including poverty, unemployment, and ethnic and racial marginalisation. Speaking truth to power is important for victims of violence. However, men who use violence are often isolated and ignored because of their violence, and their stories are seldom heard. This research brings men who use violence back into our responses by exploring the complexities of their accounts using the conceptual apparatus of Deleuze and Guattari to rupture dominant representations and interpretations.
This study is based at Gandhi Nivas, a community-led early intervention initiative in South Auckland. It follows a year of interactions with migrant men from India, South East Asia, and the Pacific Islands. All of the men have used violence against women.
Unlike essentialising societal discourses that reductively characterise men who use violence as perpetrators, offenders, or deviant Others, the men’s stories are complicated and messy, with descriptions of authoritarian and patriarchal childhood experiences, obstructed agency and exploitation, anti-productive connections, and conflicting desires.
The men’s gendered understandings move and their storying is often ambivalent and contradictory. Differences that emerge are not only differences between the men, but also for each man, and reflect movements that they make in their locatedness during their storying. To write these multiplicities and subjectivities into the thesis, I introduce a novel approach––Rhizography, or ‘writing the rhizome’––to disrupt the normalities of representation, interpretation and subjectivity.
I am guided in this research by an ethic of care that is gendered, performative, and immanent, through which I plug into the research as a special kind of Deleuzo-Guattarian desiring-machine: a nurturing-machine that becomes a site of production to connect with men who use violence and hear their stories. A semi-autobiographical narrative also emerges in which I examine the tensions of simultaneously becoming ethical activist and researcher.
The study contributes to new understandings about violence against women, by enabling movement beyond dominant perspectives of violence against women as pathologised behaviours to refocus analysis on the encounters between men who use violence and the broader social structures in which violence occurs.