Call for papers (edited book): “Vigilance”

Deadline: 11 September 2020

Vigilance is a useful, yet understudied lens through which to read conflict, conflictuality, and competing moral norms at a given point in time: the call for vigilance is a mobilization of individual attention for social or political goals that often have conflict at their core. Vigilance is directed foremost at those perceived as dangerous Others; thus, it is a powerful force in both reproducing social hierarchies and contesting these. Good – and vigilant – citizens from wealthy social strata direct their securitizing gaze, discourses and practices against Others in terms of class, race, gender, and religion, among other dimensions, drawing material and immaterial boundaries between those perceived as a danger and “righteous” and ‘rightful’ citizens.

We define “vigilance” as a form of watchfulness that is motivated by specific values and obligations and that at the same time produces concrete measures to protect and defend these values. Vigilance is thus an assemblage of moral ideas, belonging, increased attention and social practice, which is located in certain socio-political contexts, concrete spaces and technologies and is both made possible and shaped by these. Often understood as the duty of a good citizen, vigilance not only determines everyday boundary-making practices, but also shapes the material culture and the aesthetic nature of a given spatial context. This raises the question of how different social boundaries reflect certain forms of vigilance and identity politics.

Particular spaces and objects – like borders and the materialities that they encompass – are surrounded by practices of vigilance to a larger extent than others, indicating focal points where negotiations take place around issues of social and moral boundary-making, but also of governance, sovereignty, power, resource distribution, and control. Changing immigration policies, for example, have inspired the establishment and strengthening of physical boundaries in interaction with innovations in technologies and practices of vigilance, as well as the transformation of citizenship rights. Vigilance demands the production of supporting materialities and infrastructures, such as biometric databases, algorithmic technologies, and surveillance apparatuses. Governmentalities of vigilance seep through subjectivities, creating subjects, socializing their attention and harnessing it towards enhancing control over people, bodies, objects, norms, and spaces.

Borders and boundaries are also created through diverse forms of social exclusion and embodied by migrants and other phenotypical “strangers”. Those upon whose bodies the lines of citizenship and belonging are drawn must be vigilant to adapt to changing circumstances. We want to examine the materiality and aesthetics of these border bodies. For example, we are interested in how migrants and supposed strangers present themselves and behave in public space in order to avoid suspicion.

This call for papers is looking for contributions on vigilance in varied contexts. We wish to interrogate the many ways in which vigilance is productive. What does vigilance produce in terms of bodies, spaces, subjectivities, materialities, and visualities? Whom does it produce as watchful and thus righteous, and whom as suspect subjects? How does it structure power and command the distribution of resources? Which criteria for citizenship and belonging does it bring into being, through which negotiation processes and within which power configurations? What kind of fault lines does vigilance produce in the social fabric, and what kinds of conflictuality does it manufacture?

The selected contributions will be edited by Ana Ivasiuc (Center for Conflict Studies, Philipps University Marburg), Eveline Dürr and Catherine Whittaker (Collaborative Research Cluster 1369 “Cultures of Vigilance”, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität of Munich). We welcome ethnographically informed contributions that illuminate the productivity of vigilance in various contexts.


Abstracts of 500 words and a short bio of max. 200 words should be submitted by 11 September 2020 to:

The selected contributors will be invited to submit full papers of approximately 8.000 words by 1 February 2021. The special issue will be published in 2022.

Contact – Ana Ivasiuc:


Citer ce billet
Emilia Robin (2020, 7 septembre). Vigilance. Faire l'histoire de la guerre froide. Consulté le 19 juin 2024, à l’adresse

Emilia Robin

Chercheuse associée à l'UMR SIRICE. Violons d'Ingres : guerre froide, médiation scientifique, logiciels libres

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