Schlagwort-Archive: Attention

Neuerscheinung: Becoming Vigilant Subjects

Eveline Dürr, Jonathan Alderman, Catherine Whittaker, Christiane Brenner, Irene Götz, Hannah Michel, Agnes Rugel, Brendan Röder und Alena Zelenskaia

Band 3 der Kleinen Reihe des Sonderforschungsbereichs Vigilanzkulturen

Der SFB 1369 gibt die Publikationsreihe Kleine Reihe des Sonderforschungsbereichs Vigilanzkulturen beim Wehrhahn Verlag heraus. Zusätzlich zu den Print-Ausgaben sind die Bände auch online über Open Access LMU verfügbar.

Vigilanz steht für die Verknüpfung persönlicher Aufmerksamkeit mit überindividuellen Zielen. Dies geschieht alltäglich im Bereich der Sicherheit, des Rechts, des Gesundheitswesens oder auch der Religionen: überall dort, wo wir auf etwas achten, gegebenenfalls auch etwas tun oder melden sollen. In der Kleinen Reihe des Sonderforschungsbereichs 1369 Vigilanzkulturen werden in allgemein verständlicher und ›handlicher‹ Form exemplarisch die Geschichte, kulturellen Varianten und aktuellen Formen dieses Phänomens beleuchtet.

Dürr, Eveline/Alderman, Jonathan/Whittaker, Catherine/Brenner, Christiane/Götz, Irene/Michel, Hannah/Rugel, Agnes/Röder, Brendan/Zelenskaia, Alena: Becoming Vigilant Subjects. Hannover 2023

Becoming Vigilant Subjects argues that practices of vigilance are key to forming individual subjectivity. The authors include anthropologists, historians, and literary scholars. They draw on historically and culturally diverse case studies to examine how individuals develop their own vigilant selves in response to being observed by (often powerful) others – be they present, absent, or imagined. The authors argue that, in the interplay between this assumed observation and individual watchfulness, subjectivity emerges. However, as shown in the case studies, this is an ambivalent process. The focus of this book is therefore on the becoming – rather than being – of subjects against the backdrop of heightened attention, which is directed towards objectives beyond individual goals and tasks. The different cases, relating to the realm of religion, citizenship, and migration, show how individuals engage with, and potentially change, the social world within which they are embedded. All of these examples emphasize that subjects are not just shaped by the context of vigilance, but have agency and the ability to transform their own circumstances. Becoming Vigilant Subjects makes a valuable contribution to the as yet understudied topics of subjectivity and vigilance, by interrogating how both inform one another.

State of Watch: A Cryptologist’s Experience of the Cold War Submarine

Interview by Charlotte Thun-Hohenstein

“It didn’t happen. We were never there.”

Kevin Young agreed to speak with the Collaborative Research Center Vigilanzkulturen / Cultures of Vigilance about his experience on board US navy submarines as a cryptologist specializing in Russian. He enrolled in 1975, “at the height of the Cold War,” and served twenty years of active duty, rising to the rank of Senior Chief Petty Officer within twelve years.

It is difficult to imagine a more condensed yet multi-faceted exercise in vigilance than the Cold War submarine. Multiple layers of compression bore down upon the naval crew member, from the conceptual threat of nuclear confrontation to the mundane yet equally fatal danger of knocking into an exposed switch. To live on a submarine was to live in a state of meticulous attention to one’s surroundings with no personal boundaries. The confines of the space meant that watching one another was automatic, inescapable, and, ultimately, benign, while the vessel’s exposed infrastructure required default care to avoid the accidental catastrophe of bumping a switch or valve. Indeed, one wonders if the apparent risk of this built environment actually enhanced the crew’s effectiveness given the need for vigilance simply to move through the space.

The entire submarine operation was strategically animated by a perpetual watch over nuclear adversaries. As Mr. Young explains, grounded nuclear weapons were readily visible to satellite technology. Nuclear submarines, however, were underwater and in motion. Their neutralization required constant, physical following in order to be able to preemptively strike should the need arise. Typical annual service entailed one longer submarine cruise, perhaps two months, and several shorter deployments.

The following serves as a record based on memory, and testimony to an extraordinary dynamic intertwining the demands of statecraft, psychology, and natural environment.

Disclaimer: Mr. Young is an uncle of the interviewer.

Charlotte Thun-Hohenstein: What was your role in the navy? And your training?

Kevin Young: First of all, I was in a career field – cryptology – that consisted of five sub-specialties. Language was my area. I was chosen, I didn’t choose this. I joined the navy as a cook, to be a mess steward, because I thought that if I could feed 3000-4000 people three or four times a day [on an aircraft carrier] I could succeed in the restaurant business.

One day during basic training I was called to a cubicle where I was met by a man with a badge –“You’ve been chosen to go to language training but you need a security clearance.” I had no idea what that meant. “It says you’re a native Spanish speaker and conversant in German.” The options were Spanish, Arabic, Chinese, and Russian. We didn’t have a choice; I didn’t know which language I would be taking until I received orders to Monterey, California, and was enrolled in a forty-seven week Russian basic course.

None of us knew where we would go after language school. Those who did not meet security criteria were sent to the fleet in general ratings. I was cleared for primary technical training in Texas  and then sent to submarine school for six weeks in New London, Connecticut to be trained on  “electronic support measures,” (‘CESM’, pronounced “sees ‘em”).

I thought at the time I’d be assigned as a regular crewmember on a submarine. I was trained as a ‘communications specialist’. What am I gonna do? Meet Russians in port? I still hadn’t put it all together. The Russian that I’d be interpreting was just… communications. We were on submarines… presumably that included sailing around wherever we might encounter Russians?. Our role was referred to as Direct Support, providing tactical and strategic information to commanders at sea and ashore. In the 1970s even the existence of Signals Intelligence was highly classified; by now it has become common knowledge as a component of Information Warfare.

State of Watch: A Cryptologist’s Experience of the Cold War Submarine weiterlesen

What Is Political About Political Attention? Report on the Workshop “The Politics of Attention” (University of Fribourg, June 30th – July 1st, 2021)

Guest article by Eraldo Souza dos Santos

Attention has been a subject of philosophical interest for a long time. In contrast to the ever-growing literature on the epistemology and the ethics of attention, much less has been said, however, about its political aspects. Can a political community or a political institution pay attention? Can attention be said to contribute to the exercise of political faculties such as judgment? Or would attention be a political faculty itself? What is, or should be, the role of attention in politics? The papers presented in the workshop “The Politics of Attention” at the University of Fribourg (30 June – 1 July 2021) helped shed light on these questions. Organized by two members of the Aesthetics and Ethics of Attention SNSF Research Project (University of Fribourg), Isabel Kaeslin and Maude Ouellette-Dubé, the workshop delved into the key role of attention in political life.

Scientific attention. Photo: National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, Credit: Daniel Soñé Photography, Source: Flickr.

Zeynep Pamuk (University of California, San Diego), for example, explored the politics of scientific attention by shedding light on the political dynamics that lead the scientific community to pay attention to specific problems and questions in detriment to others. Layla Raïd (University of Picardie Jules Verne), in her turn, discussed the role of attention in feminist politics and care ethics. Isabel Kaeslin (University of Fribourg) sought to show that collectives can pay attention in a virtuous way: by actively and vigilantly seeking out the “not-yet-recognized and not-yet-conceptualized” perspectives of the members of marginalized communities. For Kaeslin, “open-minded vigilance” is, in this regard, one of the key virtues of virtuous collectives.

What Is Political About Political Attention? Report on the Workshop “The Politics of Attention” (University of Fribourg, June 30th – July 1st, 2021) weiterlesen