Schlagwort-Archive: Vigilance

Neuerscheinung Mitteilungen 01/2022

Mit den halbjährlich erscheinenden Mitteilungen bieten wir Einblicke in die aktuelle Forschungstätigkeit unseres Sonderforschungsbereiches. Sie enthalten jeweils Beiträge aus der Arbeit der Teilprojekte sowie Informationen zu Veranstaltungen, Nachrichten und aktuellen Aktivitäten des SFBs.

Mitteilungen des Sonderforschungsbereichs 1369 ‚Vigilanzkulturen‘ 01/2022 (Cover)

Der SFB steht vor einem wichtigen Jahr mit vielen Veranstaltungen. Wir freuen uns auf den Kontakt und die Anregungen, auf die wir lange genug verzichten mussten.

Einen Einblick in unsere Arbeit gewährt in diesem Heft Jonathan Alderman. Er führt die spezifische Wachsamkeit vor, die irrtümlicherweise als illegale Einwanderer:innen wahrgenommene US-Amerikaner:innen im Grenzgebiet zu Mexiko an den Tag legen. Elke Wienhausen-Knezevic und Nico Herold gehen der Frage nach, wie das mediale und gesellschaftliche Umfeld die Akzeptanz von Whistleblowing bedingt. Maddalena Fingerle, deren Roman gerade ins Deutsche übersetzt wurde, hat mit Kolleg:innen darüber diskutiert, was vigilante Autorschaft bedeuten könnte. In ihrem Beitrag fasst sie diese Gespräche zusammen und zeigt, wie Selbst- und Fremdbeobachtung die literarische Textproduktion konstituieren.

Diese Ausgabe beschließen zwei Berichte vergangener Veranstaltungen. Während Felix Grollmann die vielfältigen Anregungen schildert, die die Arbeit mit Gerichtsakten den Teilnnehmer:innen eines Workshops des Teilprojekts B02 bescherten, informiert Sébastien Demichel über den Workshop von B04, bei dem sie sich mit französischen Historiker:innen über die Pestabwehr im Ancien Régime austauschten

Zu den Mitteilungen

The Owl and the Duck: On Failures of Vigilance

by Ron Sadan

What makes people more vigilant about false information? For philosophers and cognitive psychologists, the term “epistemic vigilance” describes a set of “methods people routinely use…to filter out liars and the uninformed” (Michaelson 214). But where do these routines come from? It would be a mistake to simply exhort society to be more vigilant or to blame individuals for failing to be so. For one thing, the capacity to practice epistemic vigilance is not guaranteed at an individual level. The assemblage of skills, tools, and intuitions needed to adequately distinguish truth from falsehood is not available to everyone equally, nor are the techniques we learned in schools necessarily applicable to current epistemic challenges. Moreover, the disposition to be epistemically vigilant as a population is a cultural and institutional, and hence, historical achievement – not the possession of epistemically virtuous individuals. Accordingly, if we think epistemic vigilance is in short supply today, we might ask: How have societies succeeded and failed to generate cultures of epistemic vigilance in the past? Can the history of epistemic vigilance provide us with any kind of instructions in our current crisis?

Looking at a well-intentioned failure to create a culture of epistemic vigilance in the past is instructive as to what it is and what it takes to build and sustain it. In the years following World War I, the history of epistemic vigilance became a research priority for German academics concerned by what they took to be the growing power of the press to capture minds and mobilize bodies for questionable ends. A band of scholars from various academic disciplines founded research institutes at universities across Germany to study the use and abuse of media from a scientific perspective. Calling the novel discipline Zeitungswissenschaft, or “newspaper science,” its practitioners hoped their efforts would yield precepts to reform a delinquent industry and, perhaps, even create a society of better, more critical readers: epistemic vigilantes, so to speak. The only problem was that none of the academics involved in the enterprise could agree on exactly how the young “science” was supposed to proceed, or even what its object of study properly should be.

The Owl and the Duck: On Failures of Vigilance weiterlesen

InSight: Making a Case for Self-Vigilance?

von Loredana Filip


Figure 1. The importance of vision. Source: Pixabay.

Insight – in sight – inner sight. When something is in sight, it is visible to the eyes. ‘Inner sight’ entails the use of imagination, having a vision in the mind. Used frequently in everyday language, the word insight carries meanings and connotations that shape the ways we make sense of the world. The juxtaposition of inner vision and eyesight is usually taken for granted. But it can be traced back to the origins of the word:

The comparison between the exterior faculty of sight, called corporeal vision, and the interior faculty of understanding, called spiritual or intellectual vision, is as old as Plato and Aristotle, who discussed both how the eye sees and how the visual process [is] consummated in the intellectual apprehension of the object seen. Thus, the Middle English word ‘insight,’ which appeared in 1200, had had a long heritage in Latin. As visio intellectualis or intuitus, it was viewed by the Church Fathers as both analogous and antithetical to eyesight.1

The word insight accumulated a bundle of additional meanings and metaphorical nuances once its use began to steadily increase in the 19th century. This rise can be explained in connection to the popularity of contemporary confessional culture. In American self-help culture, confessions are envisioned as windows into personal thoughts and feelings; they contain pivotal moments, or “insights,” that bring about self-knowledge and self-understanding, while they also raise self-vigilance. And confessions themselves function as insights for the reader or the audience, too – They should inspire them to improve themselves. As such, they rely on managing the self by increasing its self-vigilance.


Figure 2. Screenshots of “insight” and “vigilance” in Google Books Ngram Viewer
InSight: Making a Case for Self-Vigilance? weiterlesen
  1. Neaman, Judith S. “Sight and Insight: Vision and the Mystics.” 14th Century English Mystics Newsletter, Vol. 5, No. 3, September 1979, 28. []

Neuerscheinung Mitteilungen 02/2021

Mit den halbjährlich erscheinenden Mitteilungen bieten wir Einblicke in die aktuelle Forschungstätigkeit unseres Sonderforschungsbereiches. Sie enthalten jeweils Beiträge aus der Arbeit der Teilprojekte sowie Informationen zu Veranstaltungen, Nachrichten und aktuellen Aktivitäten des SFBs.

Mitteilungen des Sonderforschungsbereichs 1369 ‚Vigilanzkulturen‘ 02/2021 (Cover)

Mittlerweile stellen sich glücklicherweise auch im Sonderforschungsbereich wieder Bedingungen ein, die den so wichtigen wissenschaftlichen Austausch in Präsenz ermöglichen. So konnte unsere Jahrestagung Sprachen der Wachsamkeit klassisch durchgeführt werden, wenngleich mit einer eingeschränkten Anzahl Teilnehmender.

Der Besuch von Molly Taylor-Poleskey als Gast des SFBs im Frühjahr war ein erstes Anzeichen einer Rückkehr zur Normalität. Ihr Beitrag zu diesem Heft basiert hauptsächlich auf Recherchen, die sie im Zuge ihres Aufenthalts unternehmen konnte. Der Text spürt einem spektakulären Fall von Vergiftung am preußischen Hof nach und fragt nach der höfischen Interaktionskultur wie den damit verbundenen Beobachtungspraktiken.

Neuerscheinung Mitteilungen 02/2021 weiterlesen

“We’re Told to Be Alert”: Pots, Pans, and the Ends of Civil Disobedience

by Eraldo Souza dos Santos

(မြန်မာလိုဖတ်ရန်ဒီလင့် ကိုနှိပ်ပါ
နူးနူးလုဆန်မှ ဘာသာပြန်ဆိုထားသည်)

(Click here for a Burmese translation. Translator: Nu Nu Lusan.)

The opening scenes of Burma Spring 21 are deafening. They show citizens and residents of Burma protesting the February 2021 coup d’état by banging pots and pans from their windows and on the streets. Since the 1830s, when opponents of Louis Philippe I of France banged pots against his regime, it has become a key form of political protest across the world. In Burma, as commentators have pointed out, it is also a “traditional ritual way” to ward off evil spirits. “Let’s bang pans and pots tomorrow to drive away the evil dictatorship,” urged the anti-coup Civil Disobedience Movement on July 3, 2021, the birthday of the Junta’s chief General Min Aung Hlaing. In the Burmese news website The Irrawaddy’s analysis, banging pots and pans in Burma has had, in this regard, “a mystical as well as a political purpose.” But there is a purpose thereof that has been largely neglected by scholars, pundits, and political commentators. The “new sound” of the Burmese protests has served to alert one’s fellow neighbors of the arrival of policemen and soldiers often in the dead of the night.

Pots and Pans, Source: Flickr.

Since February 13, 2021, activists and human rights organizations have denounced the ways in which the military has “kidnapped” and “night-dragged” those who have participated in the Civil Disobedience Movement. As a Burmese activist wrote on Twitter, the “Burmese police are starting to kidnap community leaders, fire civil servants who are in the Civil Disobedience Movement. Neighbors bang their pots and pans to scare them away. We’re told to be alert. We feel very, very unsafe.” Or as Nant, the young protagonist of the documentary feature Padauk: Myanmar Spring, says, “When they roam the streets at night searching homes and shooting into windows, we call them dogs and bang on pots in protest.”

“We’re Told to Be Alert”: Pots, Pans, and the Ends of Civil Disobedience weiterlesen

Trucha: what’s so “trout” about being vigilant?

guest article by Henry Kammler

(All original data collected by Catherine Whittaker unless otherwise indicated.)

“You have to stay trucha in Tijuana,” the tour guide explains while taking a group — all holders of privileged passports — South on a day tour across the border from San Diego. What if someone stole your passport and later committed a crime on US soil? You’d be in trouble for the rest of your life.

Why would the Anglophone guide say trucha, Spanish for “trout”, in his cautionary advice? Global media coverage has made one example of trucha used in this sense quite famous: the name of a multinational street gang originating in Central America, the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13). Interpreted as a standard Spanish expression, the attribute salvatrucha may be mistaken as meaning “saving trout” (with salva meaning ‘save’ and trucha meaning ‘trout’). In Mesoamerican colloquial speech, however, the intended label “shrewd Salvadorians” is relatively clear, not least because trucha in its usage as an adjective is an everyday term in regional Spanish.

Sea trout, 1913 by Heinrich Harder, uploaded by Jan Willemsen on Flickr.

Hybrid English-Spanish expressions like “staying trucha” or “being trucha”, which are common among the Chicano/a population in the US, indicate that the meaning of the loan element trucha doesn’t have an adequate semantic counterpart in English. Loosely translatable as “alert, shrewd, sharp, vigilant, watchful, on one’s toes”, trucha operates on several levels of meaning: an individual’s momentary stance, an individual’s behavior of constant watchfulness, as well as a habitus and even a collective cultural trait. As Alberto Pulido, professor of Ethnic Studies at the University of San Diego, asserts: “Being trucha is a way of life” (interview Feb 19th, 2020). A look at different contexts of the use of trucha may help shed some light on this claim.

Trucha: what’s so “trout” about being vigilant? weiterlesen

Des «vigilans Echevins» à la «pharmacovigilance» : la «vigilance sanitaire» dans la langue française du XVIIIe au XXIe siècle

par Sébastien Demichel

(Deutsche Version siehe unten)

Dans un précédent article consacré à l’histoire, à l’étymologie et au sens du terme « vigilance » dans la langue française rédigé pour la série historico-sémantique « Vigipedia », j’avais brièvement évoqué l’emploi récurrent de la vigilance dans le contexte sanitaire actuel. Je ne m’y étais toutefois pas attardé. Le présent propos laisse de côté les aspects de la vigilance déjà traités dans le premier article et se focalise exclusivement sur la vigilance sanitaire. À partir de quelques exemples tirés de mes recherches dans les archives, j’aimerais dans un premier temps démontrer l’historicité de cette notion et, dans un second temps, plus brièvement et à la lumière de la pandémie actuelle, souligner son emploi contemporain.

J’entends par « vigilance sanitaire » une attention soutenue d’individus exercée contre une épidémie potentielle ou déclarée dans un but supra-individuel qu’est la santé publique. Cette définition entre dans le cadre analytique de notre Centre de recherche interdisciplinaire « Cultures de la vigilance » (Vigilanzkulturen) et peut être justifiée au niveau historico-sémantique.

La vigilance sanitaire est liée à l’histoire de la peste qui décime l’Occident au xive siècle et qui inaugure une « ère de la peste » que l’historien Jean-Noël Biraben fait durer jusqu’au milieu du xixe siècle1. En France, la seconde moitié du xviie siècle marque toutefois une rupture dans la mesure où la peste perd son caractère endémique, entravée notamment par le rôle décisif du bureau de la santé de Marseille2. Elle reste néanmoins une menace permanente.

Des «vigilans Echevins» à la «pharmacovigilance» : la «vigilance sanitaire» dans la langue française du XVIIIe au XXIe siècle weiterlesen
  1. Biraben, Jean-Noël, Les hommes et la peste en France et dans les pays européens et méditerranéens, 1. La peste dans l’histoire, Paris-La Haye, Mouton, 1975, p. 118-129.  []
  2. Hildesheimer, Françoise, Le bureau de la santé de Marseille sous l’Ancien Régime. Le renfermement de la contagion, Marseille, Fédération historique de Provence, 1980. []

Vigilance, vigilant : histoire, étymologie, sens

par Sébastien Demichel

(Deutsche Version siehe unten)

Face à la recrudescence des cas de Covid-19 en France, les appels à la vigilance se sont multipliés. À la fin août 2020, la Dépêche du Midi évoquait déjà la nécessité d’une « vigilance renforcée » face à la multiplication des foyers[1]. Depuis lors, la vigilance a fait place à l’alerte renforcée, puis à l’alerte maximale et enfin à l’urgence sanitaire avec l’instauration d’un couvre-feu au mois d’octobre 2020.

Partant du constat d’un emploi récurrent du terme « vigilance » dans la crise sanitaire que nous vivons, j’aimerais analyser l’évolution sémantique et les connotations du terme dans la langue française. Plus particulièrement, il s’agit d’ouvrir des perspectives linguistiques dans le cadre de la série « Vigipedia » du Centre de recherche interdisciplinaire « Cultures de la vigilance » (« Vigilanzkulturen ») qui compare l’utilisation et la signification du mot dans différentes langues.

1. Histoire et évolution sémantique du terme

Le terme français vigilance dérive du latin vigilantia (du verbe vigilare), au même titre que l’adjectif vigilant ou le verbe veiller. Son emploi n’est pas attesté avant la fin du xive siècle, époque à laquelle il a le sens d’ « insomnie ». Le Dictionnaire du Moyen Français (1330-1500) relève encore deux autres significations : « veillée » (voir Vocabulaire latin-français de Louis Cruse alias Garbin en 1487) et « attitude vigilante ». Il convient de faire remarquer ici que la racine vigi- est postérieure à la racine veill- que l’on retrouve dans éveiller, surveiller etc. Le Dictionnaire de l’ancienne langue française n’a en effet pas d’entrée propre pour vigilance et vigilant, mais ces deux termes figurent comme synonymes sous les entrées respectives veillance et veillant.

Vigilance, vigilant : histoire, étymologie, sens weiterlesen

Announcement: Working Paper 03/2020 “A multidisciplinary review essay of Francisco Cantú’s book ‘The Line Becomes a River: Dispatches from the Border’, Vintage, London, 2019”

by Eveline Dürr and Catherine Whittaker (Ed.)

Cover Working Paper SFB 1369 ‚Vigilanzkulturen‘ 03/2020 (detail), Design: Sofarobotnik

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?

To the working paper

When Did You Realize You’re White?

by Catherine Whittaker

with contributions from Christiane Brenner, Eveline Dürr, Hannah Michel and Brendan Röder

When was the first time you became aware of your Whiteness?

In light of the recent Black Lives Matter protests around the globe, the conversation about racial privilege and the need to become “woke” has gained new urgency. To what extent are we aware of our Whiteness and how does that shape our actions?

At the interdisciplinary “Subjectivation Working Group” of the conspicuously White Collaborative Research Center “Cultures of Vigilance” at the LMU Munich, my colleagues and I routinely reflect on why people become vigilant and in what ways that vigilance comes to shape who they are. Vigilance often involves self-observation, such as when Christian individuals seek to avoid falling into sin, or when Black Americans anticipate how they will be perceived by White Americans.

This led us to some self-reflection of our own. How vigilant are we ourselves with respect to our “White privilege”?  What is it and how do people become aware of theirs?

When Did You Realize You’re White? weiterlesen

“Cholera is portrayed as the disease of the dirty, the colonized, the poor”: Interview with Aureo Lustosa Guerios

Interview by Loredana Filip

An illustration representing cholera personified. Wikimedia Commons.

Aureo Lustosa Guerios is a PhD student at the University of Padua interested in Comparative Literature, Cultural History and Medical Humanities. His research surveys the literary representations of epidemic cholera in the 19th and early 20th centuries. He writes and presents the podcast “Literatura Viral” in Portuguese in which he discusses how epidemics influence history and art. He holds a master’s degree in “European Literary Cultures” and wrote his thesis on the Divine Comedy. While pursuing his BA in Brazil, Aureo’s research focused on literary modernism (Joyce, Baudelaire, Mann) and the translation of children’s literature (Dr. Seuss).

Aureo Lustosa Guerios

LF: Your PhD dissertation deals with literary representations of epidemic cholera in the 19th and 20th centuries. Can you tell us more about it?

ALG: My dissertation is part of a collective effort to address a gap in the research on this disease. Cholera was the great pandemic disease of the 19th century. It started to spread around 1817 and it circumnavigated the globe four or five times before the 1920s. From this point onwards, some believed that cholera had been eradicated. However, a new wave hit in 1961, which has never been declared over. Today we are still living in the 59th year of the 7th Cholera Pandemic. Cholera has been a scourge for so many and for so long, and it has definitely left its mark on literature and art. But this has often been neglected. Only in the last decades have literary scholars started to pay closer attention to representations of disease. However, most of them focus on tuberculosis and syphilis, so other diseases such as cholera, malaria, typhus or even the Spanish Flu have been ignored. 

“Cholera is portrayed as the disease of the dirty, the colonized, the poor”: Interview with Aureo Lustosa Guerios weiterlesen

The French “Corporate Duty of Vigilance” Law: An Example of Bottom-up Vigilance?

by Eda Güçlü

Rana Plaza commercial building one year before the collapse (2012), Photo: Sean Robertson, Source: Wikimedia Commons

The Rana Plaza, an eight-story commercial building in Dhaka, Bangladesh, which housed shops, a bank, and garment factories, collapsed on the 24th of April 2013. The upper four floors were illegally constructed on an already weak structure that had been initially designed for shops and offices. The garment factories, which employed around 5000 workers, produced clothes for major international brands including Gucci, Prada, Benetton, Versace, Mango, and others. The heavy weight of the machinery and the vibration it generated in these factories overwhelmed the strength of the columns, and it resulted in what trade unions called “mass industrial homicide.” The death toll was 1134, and the number of the injured was around 2500 people. Such an extent of loss and suffering captured international attention on the lack of safety measures in the garment industry in Bangladesh. It also underlined the concerns for the risks created by the complex and unregulated outsourcing models across global supply chains, which exploit cheap labor and insufficient health and environmental regulations in less developed countries.

Side view of the collapsed Rana Plaza building (2013), Photo: Sharat Chowdhury, Source: Wikimedia Commons

The Rana Plaza collapse gave a stimulus and wider legitimacy to political campaigns and global movements that had started earlier advocating an international legal framework to put an end to corporate impunity and make parent companies responsible for the consequences of their subcontractors’ operations along their supply chains. The campaign of several civil society organizations which had begun before the presidential elections in 2012 in France was one of these efforts.1 The French campaign was organized by a coalition of NGOs including Amnesty International France, Sherpa, CCFD-Terre Solidaire, ActionAid France-Peuples Solidaire, Amis de la Terre France, and Collectif Éthique sur l’étiquette. Their struggle came to fruition in 2017 when the French Parliament finally promulgated the “Corporate Duty of Vigilance” law (loi relative au devoir de vigilance des sociétés mères et des entreprises donneuses d’ordre). Olivier Petitjean, a journalist who wrote a book on the law, considers it “atypical legislation”, because it was initiated by a coalition of NGOs with the support of a group of deputies whose support they secured before the elections. In that sense, it is an example of “citizens’ initiative legislation.”

The French “Corporate Duty of Vigilance” Law: An Example of Bottom-up Vigilance? weiterlesen
  1. For other examples of similar campaigns, see https://lieferkettengesetz.de/; No Courage to Commit: Comments of German non-governmental organisations on the German government’s National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights (Revised version, 6 February 2017): https://germanwatch.org/sites/germanwatch.org/files/publication/17767.pdf; Huib Huyse, Boris Verbrugge, Belgium and the Sustainable Supply Chain Agenda: Leader or Laggard? Review of Human Rights Due Diligence Initiatives in the Netherlands, Germany, France, and EU, and Implications for Policy Work by Belgian Civil Society (KU Leuven HIVA Research Institute for Work and Society, 2018): https://www.business-humanrights.org/en/report-assesses-compares-human-rights-due-diligence-initiatives-in-3-eu-countries-with-belgium%E2%80%99s-agenda-for-sustainable-supply-chains. []

La peste de Marseille et le coronavirus (1720–2020) : deux épidémies, deux expériences

par Sébastien Demichel

(Eine deutsche, leicht abgewandelte Version des Artikels findet sich hier oder hier als Podcast)

Tableau de Michel Serre (1658-1733) représentant l’hôtel de ville de Marseille pendant la peste de 1720, Source: Wikimedia Commons

Depuis le début de l’année 2020, l’apparition d’un nouveau virus met à mal la quasi-totalité du globe et l’intérêt pour l’histoire des épidémies et des pandémies est à son comble. Alors que la lutte sanitaire contre le coronavirus bat son plein, la recherche scientifique et universitaire travaille d’arrache-pied sur les moyens d’endiguer le fléau. À différents niveaux de la société, le virus entraîne une vigilance accrue, marquée par des normes sanitaires très strictes. Une pandémie, terme dont l’étymologie grecque signifie « tout le peuple » (πᾶν = tout, δῆμος = le peuple) comporte effectivement une dimension transnationale. Dans les 100 dernières années, la grippe espagnole de 1918, le SIDA ou encore le COVID-19 en constituent des exemples marquants.

Dans ce propos, j’aimerais m’intéresser de manière plus particulière à la peste – une des maladies mortelles les plus répandues dans le monde jusqu’au xxe siècle. Dans cette optique, je prendrai l’exemple de la peste de Provence de 1720–1722, épidémie durant laquelle les autorités ont décrété certaines mesures qui ont une forte résonance actuelle. Il s’agira donc de faire le point sur l’état de la recherche sur la peste de Provence, d’en étudier les origines et dans un dernier temps de mettre en exergue certains parallèles et certaines différences avec la pandémie de Coronavirus. La vigilance face à un fléau épidémique a en effet traversé les siècles.

La peste de Marseille et le coronavirus (1720–2020) : deux épidémies, deux expériences weiterlesen

Sport et vigilance : comment je suis devenu responsable covid-19 dans mon club de tennis de table

par Sébastien Demichel

(Deutsche Version siehe unten)

Photographe : Samuel Conor, source: Unsplash

Après deux mois d’arrêt complet, le 11 mai 2020 est le jour de la reprise pour les pongistes helvétiques. Ceux-ci peuvent à nouveau pratiquer leur sport préféré, mais à quel prix ! 

En tant qu’historien, je devais être actuellement à Marseille pour travailler dans les archives sur des sources traitant de la lutte contre la peste au 18e siècle. Privé de voyage, je suis resté en Suisse et je me consacre aux conséquences d’une autre épidémie, le Covid-19. Avec mon club de tennis de table de Fribourg, je suis occupé à mettre en œuvre la pratique de mon sport dans le respect des mesures sanitaires. Situation inédite qui demande une vigilance accrue ! 

Certes, le tennis de table n’est pas un sport de contact (si l’on excepte la poignée de main avant et après le match). Pourtant il n’échappe pas aux mesures sanitaires, loin s’en faut !

En accord avec l’Office fédéral du sport et l’Office fédéral de la santé publique, Swiss Table Tennis (STT) a ainsi développé un concept de protection Covid-19 qui doit permettre aux clubs, joueurs et entraîneurs d’organiser la reprise de l’entraînement.  Sport et vigilance : comment je suis devenu responsable covid-19 dans mon club de tennis de table weiterlesen

Hypervigilance: Stayin’ Alert and the visual tropes of the war on Corona

by Christopher Balme

Image: Boris Johnson answers questions on UK’s plan to lift lockdown. 11.5.2020. Screenshot.

We are told to “stay alert”, but if alertness could conquer this virus, we would all be fine. The anxiety many of us are experiencing is actually hypervigilance. Alertness implies we can create an antiviral force-field around us. Well, it’s cheaper than personal protective equipment, testing and all that faff. (Suzanne Moore, The Guardian, 11 May, 2020)

Few public announcements by Boris Johnson, the UK’s notoriously publicity-hungry PM, have earned such mixed if not downright dismissive reactions as his call to ‘Stay Alert’ announced on 11 May, 2020. Conceived as a liberalising measure from the restrictive ‘Stay at Home’ policy, Johnson’s appeal to his fellow citizens’ innate propensity for vigilance went down like a cold kipper on Brighton beach.

But why such a lukewarm reception, when everybody should have been relieved that they could finally get out and play a round of golf or replenish their supplies of compost at the garden centre?

Guardian columnist Suzanne Moore pointed predictably to the implicit class distinctions contained in Johnson’s examples but more importantly, and almost en passant, she grasped the culture of vigilance at stake here. Hypervigilance: Stayin’ Alert and the visual tropes of the war on Corona weiterlesen