Schlagwort-Archive: Vigilance

Is there a right to silence? Silence as a reason for vigilance during the war in Ukraine

von Kateryna Yeremieieva

One particular reason to be vigilant

When does silence as an absence of statements become a cause for vigilance? At what moment is public attention directed toward silence and not only toward statements? We can see this in challenging crises like war when dividing people into insiders and outsiders suddenly becomes necessary to unite and develop further strategies and common concepts for describing reality. In a warring society, moral imperatives are actualised, built on the opposition of speaking out (affirming loyalty, for example, to one’s state and acting on its behalf) and silence, which becomes unacceptable (namely, the antithesis of social mobilisation, irresponsibility, betrayal, and support of the enemy). Silence became an attribute: “the one, who has been silent since 24 February”. Clear statements against the common enemy become an obligation due to the pressure in public space because the ambiguity of any communicative acts, both statements and silence, is perceived especially painfully during the aggravation of conflicts. The silence of those expected to speak out is even more alarming and more closely scrutinised than publicly unacceptable statements. In this text, I want to show that in times of war, attention to silence is sometimes of even greater importance than talking. We can analyse the nature of this phenomenon in the context of the war in Ukraine since 2022.

Is there a right to silence? Silence as a reason for vigilance during the war in Ukraine weiterlesen

Neuerscheinung: Risque et vigilance sanitaire. La côte méditerranéenne française face à la peste, 1700–1750

Sébastien Demichel

Band 9 der Publikationsreihe Vigilanzkulturen

Der SFB 1369 gibt die Publikationsreihe Vigilanzkulturen beim De Gruyter Verlag heraus, die als Print- und Open Access-Format erscheint.

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. Der SFB 1369 untersucht die Geschichte, kulturellen Varianten und aktuellen Formen dieses Phänomens. In der Publikationsreihe werden Forschungsergebnisse der Öffentlichkeit zugänglich gemacht.

Sébastien Demichel: Risque et vigilance sanitaire. La côte méditerranéenne française face à la peste, 1700–1750. Berlin/Boston 2023 (Cover)

Cet ouvrage s’intéresse au risque et à la vigilance face à la peste sur la côte méditerranéenne française dans la première moitié du 18e siècle. Entre 1720 et 1722, une terrible épidémie de peste frappe Marseille, la Provence, le Comtat-Venaissin et une partie du Languedoc, causant environ 100’000 décès. Aussi dramatique soit-elle, cette épidémie constitue une exception durant la première moitié du 18e siècle. La première partie de ce travail analyse les rapports entre vigilance, espace et communication et met en évidence une prévention qui s’exerce tant de manière transméditerranéenne que de manière interne au royaume de France. Une véritable «bureaucratie sanitaire» se met en place. La deuxième partie étudie les normes et les pratiques de la vigilance sanitaire, tant sur un plan politico-sanitaire (quarantaines des navires, des passagers et des marchandises) que sur un plan religieux (processions et prières pour endiguer la maladie). Enfin, la dernière partie se limite à la peste de 1720-1722 et illustre le passage d’une vigilance préventive à une vigilance réactive en s’intéressant aux «acteurs de la peste» et aux attitudes et tactiques développées face au fléau épidémique.

Neuerscheinung: Mitteilungen 01/2023

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‘ 01/2023 (Cover)

Die Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft hat im Mai unseren Antrag auf eine zweite Förderphase des Sonderforschungsbereichs Vigilanzkulturen bewilligt. Diese Anerkennung unserer Leistung freut uns sehr und spornt uns an, weiter konsequent unseren Forschungszielen nachzugehen. In dieser Nummer stellen wir dementsprechend zunächst die neu hinzugekommenen Teilprojekte samt ihrer Teilprojektleiter:innen vor.

Danach skizziert Arndt Brendecke, wie eine Geschichte der Aufmerksamkeit aussehen müsste, wenn man sie nicht nur vom Standpunkt des aufmerksamen Einzelsubjekts, sondern als Geschichte vernetzter kognitiver Leistungen erzählen würde.

Wie die Aufmerksamkeit von Kaufleuten im Rahmen des grenzüberschreitenden Warenverkehrs angezapft wird, zeigen Felix Grollmann, in der ersten Phase Mitarbeiter des Teilprojekts B02 und weiter Mitglied des SFBs, und seine drei Ko-Autor:innen in ihrem Beitrag. Der Text zeigt, wie Briefe von Kaufleuten seit dem 15. Jahrhundert weit über ihre rein ökonomische Bedeutung hinaus zu einer sozialen Ressource werden und vom Aufbau eines Kommunikationsnetzwerks zeugen.

Unter einer ähnlichen Perspektive fragte ein Workshop des Teilprojekts B04, wie die Sicherung mediterraner Küsten in der Frühen Neuzeit gewährleistet werden sollte. Kilian Harrer beschließt diese Ausgabe mit einem Bericht über diesen Workshop.

Zu den Mitteilungen

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

Ecological Vigilance on the Rise: Exploring the Role of Academia, the Streets, and Social Media

by Loredana Filip

Walking a few blocks in Veitsbronn, Germany, I was struck by the sight of three consecutive ads promoting environmental awareness. It made me question whether it was sorcery, coincidence, or conspiracy that led me to encounter these ads, or if it was simply my own confirmation bias at work, given the direction of my research in the field of vigilance studies. However, one thing was clear – signs encouraging ecological thinking seemed to be everywhere I turned.

Photos by Loredana Filip.

But as these ads caught my attention, I couldn’t help but wonder: were they simply capitalizing on the trendiness of being green? Or was it a sign that the collective efforts of ordinary people and intellectuals to promote sustainable living were finally paying off? Perhaps this growing ecological vigilance among consumers signals that there is no one-way street where an “economic totality”1 dictates consumer choices, but rather that consumers are increasingly concerned about their environmental impact.

Ecological Vigilance on the Rise: Exploring the Role of Academia, the Streets, and Social Media weiterlesen
  1. Huehls, Mitchell. “Four Theses on Economic Totality.” Oxford UP, vol. 30, no. 4, Winter 2018, pp. 836–847. []

Book launch “Watchful Lives in the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands”

By Jonathan Alderman

Authors: Catherine Whittaker, Eveline Dürr, Jonathan Alderman, Carolin Luiprecht

Artivist: Nanzi Muro

Werkstatt-galerie, 20 April 2023

Zentnerstraße 3, 80798 Munich

The book “Watchful Lives in the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands”, jointly authored by Catherine Whittaker, Eveline Dürr, Jonathan Alderman and Carolin Luiprecht as part of project B06 of the CRC 1369 “Cultures of Vigilance” at LMU Munich was successfully launched at the Werkstatt gallery on 20 April 2023. The book launch, which was introduced by Christiane Brenner (project C07), was attended by around forty people, who enjoyed the discussion of the book as well as the reception with food and drink. Each author discussed the main themes of the book in relation to the chapters that they were most responsible for writing. Together, they highlighted the intersectional nature of the racism and discrimination that people living in the in-between spaces of the borderlands face on a daily basis and the watchful practices that they develop as a result. The book launch was also the vernissage for an exhibition by Nanzi Muro, a San Diego-based artivist who had collaborated with the authors of the book by providing art that accompanies each chapter.

From left to right: Nanzi Muro, Catherine Whittaker, Jonathan Alderman, Nele Guderian, Eveline Dürr, Carolin Luiprecht

Nanzi Muro explained how she came to work with the book’s authors and how she relates to the themes of the book through her own experiences as a fronteriza whose art articulates the daily struggles of people in borderland spaces against racism and discrimination. Nanzi’s exhibition titled “El Chaparral: From Tijuana through San Diego to Munich, Germany” was displayed within two rooms of the gallery. The first showed all of the artwork from the book, while the second room was an installation featuring photographic artwork that displayed the lives of people in a migrant camp attempting to cross the border between Tijuana and San Diego. A representation of the migrant camp itself was also created, through objects such as clothes hanging from a washing line. The pictures in the El Chaparral exhibition show the precarious conditions in an encampment that formed in early 2021 as asylum seekers awaited a change in U.S. border policy to request asylum and seek a better life. The migrants spent nearly a year in the camp near the border before Mexican officials dismantled it on 6 February 2022.

Artwork by Nanzi Muro, accompanying the book “Watchful Lives in the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands” (photo credit: Jonathan Alderman)
A representation of a migrant camp in Tijuana (photo credit: Jonathan Alderman)
Book launch “Watchful Lives in the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands” weiterlesen

Milo Rau and the Performative Panopticon

By Lily Climenhaga

Climbing the smooth stone stairs across the square from the Church of Saint Peter in Matera, Italy, where Jesus’s trial was filmed the previous day, one could not help but be taken aback by the combination of the film crews’ various cameras and microphones and the swaths of curious tourists hanging over the stone walls above. Following a procession of Materans dressed as Roman citizens, we – those people following this Biblical procession – clambered up a few steps only to have to stop, climb back down and start the assent once again.

Source: Lily Climenhaga

The initially large group of “tourists” enlisted to follow the procession of booing and leering Judeans – themselves following Jesus and his cross – dwindled as the minutes of filming ticked on and the number of steps failed to decrease. As the procession of Rau tourists1 dispersed, a growing number of people who had travelled to Matera for the heritage site (or perhaps to catch a glimpse of the new James Bond film) leaned over the stone walls. As the procession approached the top of the steps, I glanced around – one of the procession’s few remaining “tourists”– to find myself surrounded by a sea of cameras. The director at the heart of it all hollered excitedly through his bullhorn: “Once more… but this time without the tourists!”

Source: Lily Climenhaga

Swiss-German director Milo Rau – the man with the bullhorn – is famous for repertoire (rehearsed and scripted) productions that build on the autobiographic experiences of their actors and for unscripted, political action performances. His projects are concerned with the representation of a hyper-self. This concept of the hyper-self gestures to an overtly presentational quality, highlighted by Rau’s use of direct address. Direct address refers specifically to how Rau’s actors – both professional and non-professional – speak outwards, past the fourth wall, and directly to the audience. In repertoire productions, this direct address marks what could be described as a Brechtian theory of acting. However, in political actions – staged trials, tribunals, assemblies, political rallies – this overtly presentational performance style is already present in their real world counterparts. Yet we cannot forget that what we see on stage and screen is heavily edited and carefully controlled versions of the self. This careful control and curation of the self points to the importance of vigilance in Rau’s work. We see no more than what the actor (political, professional, or non-professional) and the director want us to see. We are presented with essentialized selves. Selves that neatly fit within the world and political message of the theatrical project. Selves that show little interest in the complexity of the individual in the real world, only as they exist within the project’s rigid parameters.

Milo Rau and the Performative Panopticon weiterlesen
  1. We cannot really call those following the procession true tourists because they, like myself, had travelled to Matera not for the UNESCO world heritage site, but for Rau and The New Gospel. []

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. []