Skip navigation

Approaching/Departure: effacement, erasure and 'undoing' the fear of crime

Approaching/Departure: effacement, erasure and 'undoing' the fear of crime

Fanghanel, Alexandra ORCID: 0000-0002-4041-561X (2013) Approaching/Departure: effacement, erasure and 'undoing' the fear of crime. Cultural Geographies (formerly Ecumene), 21 (3). pp. 343-361. ISSN 1474-4740 (Print), 1477-0881 (Online) (doi:

PDF (SAGE Choice Open Access Article)
14033_FANGHANEL_Approaching_Departure_2014.pdf - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial.

Download (124kB)


This paper contributes to contemporary debates about the geographies of gendered fear of crime by examining the way in which a group of young women negotiate fear of crime in public space by creating spatial, social, discursive, or affective distance between themselves and the approaching menace of fear in their home towns. These distances are presented here as lacunae which young women construct in order to promote feelings of safety in space. Bringing Sara Ahmed's work on the circulation of affect and Jacque Derrida's notion of erasure (or sous-rature) into a dialogue with each other, and building on a Heideggerian phenomenological understanding of fear as dynamic, this paper uses interview data collected with young women in the South East of England to explore how lacunae are constructed and used in the pursuit of safety. ‘Emotion maps’ and qualitative interviews are analysed discursively to explore how gaps which efface and erase fear, emerge. I argue that creating lacunae – whether verbally, non-verbally or spatially – enables young women to undo the approach of signifiers of fear in public space, which in turn enables them to contest dominant discourses of the gendered nature of fear of crime. I also argue that this has implications for the politics of safe-keeping. This paper complicates conventional understandings of safe-keeping by highlighting how, in the pursuit of safety, erasures based on classed, raced, or gendered othering can manifest themselves and prove exclusionary. By examining the work that such lacunic erasures do, this paper emphasises the importance of the spatial and the affective in understanding the relationship between fear, safety, affective expression and well-being. Grounding this discussion in analyses of the way in which fear and safety operate spatially, this paper highlights the importance, not only of attending to silences and absences used to make people feel safer, but also to the politics of these in the pursuit of safe-keeping.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 License ( which permits non-commercial use, reproduction and distribution of the work without further permission.
Uncontrolled Keywords: Fear of crime, Safety, Lacuna, Phenomenology, Sous-rature, Public Space.
Pre-2014 Departments: School of Humanities & Social Sciences > Department of Law And The Centre for Criminology
Last Modified: 15 May 2019 16:31

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item


Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics