What makes this review essay on Francisco Cantúʼs bestselling book on the US-Mexican border regimes uniquely thought-provoking – and, in equal measure, challenging – is the diversity of the disciplines involved and their relationship to the subject matter. Our working groupʼs aim has been to analyze notions of ’subjectivation‘, that is, the process of becoming a subject in relation to practices of vigilance. Thus, our working group explored what diff erent disciplines can gain from reflecting on and analyzing the same text and which aspects of it they consider particularly relevant to ongoing debates on vigilance and subjectivation. What kind of subtexts are brought to light by these divergent readings and what aspects do some disciplines stress that others would not have noticed in such detail?
In this working paper the authors offer a review of the first medical and political reactions to the COVID-19 pandemic. Addresses to their nations made by political representatives of four European countries (Sweden, Italy, France and Germany), all of which were affected by the novel coronavirus at different times and with different severity levels, form the foundation of our study. How these addresses serve to legitimize restrictions to freedom and appeal to the sense of responsibility of citizens, reveals contrasting ways of controlling bodies in the interest of preserving health. Crucially, public health concerns are at the center of both types of pandemic control. Here, past promises of an all-powerful medical field, equipped to overcome any ailment and to reshape human life, clash with a reality in which the medical world in turn is reliant upon political and social dynamics.
To the working paper