This article discusses a high-profile 2020 Danish murder case where a young man was brutally killed by two brothers on the small island of Bornholm—a case that became the center of attention not only in Denmark but internationally with the New York Times reporting on it, saying “A Black Man Was Tortured and Killed in Denmark. The Police Insist It Wasn’t about Race.” Building on my long-standing ethnographic research of police investigations in and beyond Denmark, the article contemplates why the Danish police so readily denied the existence of a hate crime. How, in other words, was it possible for the Danish police to deny what to others seemed so apparent? Was it indeed yet another case of police prejudice as both media and many others believed? Or could it, as this article suggests, also be an example of a specific mode of rationality that governs much police thinking and detective work specifically?
Analyzing the “Bornholm Murder Case”
Contributing Societal Critique and Alternative Visions in Dark Times
In this article, I explore the concept of the questioning individual through life history research with two female artists from (post)war contexts. Afghan theater producer Monirah Hashemi’s story illustrates how self-expression in contexts of violence is not only politically but also socially repressed, and illustrates the role that marginalized outsiders can play in questioning. Diala Brisly, a visual artist from Syria, talks of public expression after the suspension of censorship and shows the power of creative self-expression to support resistance to repression. This article explores their contributions of both societal critique and alternative visions of (post)war societies from their positions in exile. I argue that creative processes and cultural expressions can play crucial roles as sources of resistance and ways of creating alternative societal visions.
A Space of Belonging in an Environment of Violence and Repression
Mirjam de Bruijn
How can we explain the increasing popularity of slam poetry among youth in societies colored by long histories of conflict and political repression? This article explores this question for the rise of slam poetry in Chad, since 2014, a conflict-ridden country with an authoritarian regime and deep poverty, characteristics of a society in duress. In Francophone Africa we can speak of a slam poetry movement, where slam as a form of expression and the organization of (inter)national festivals has become a space of belonging for young people in Africa who must cope with societies in duress. The article is the result of my long engagement with the slam scene in francophone Africa.
How Vigilance (Un)makes the State in Western Europe
Informal policing has recently been on the rise in Europe: in several countries, “concerned citizens” have mobilized for the protection of their neighborhoods. This article examines the production and mobilization of vigilance in the negotiations around practices of informal policing in Italy and Germany and analyzes the relational way in which discourses and practices of vigilantism make and unmake the state. Grounded in research on practices of informal policing in Italy and Germany, the article argues that practices of vigilance manifested in informal policing are simultaneously and ambivalently state-(un)making practices. What is obtained in the process is an ambivalent regime of vigilance.
Protesting While Latin@ in the US-Mexico Borderlands
Catherine Whittaker and Eveline Dürr
This article shows how vigilance against racism and coloniality in the US-Mexico borderlands produces knowledge, highlighting the decolonizing potential of their dynamic entanglement. Before the Black Lives Matter protests against police violence across the United States in late May 2020, many Latin@s in San Diego, California, already anticipated racial discrimination and violence in light of growing anti-migration sentiment. Those Latin@s who took part in the protests often also protested border patrol violence. Based on long-term ethnographic fieldwork, we argue that the vigilance of Latin@s, who were further racialized as “immigrants” through their protest participation, produced knowledge about ongoing racism and coloniality in San Diego. We propose theorizing vigilance as having both the potential to uphold colonialist structures and to undermine these.
Encounters with Rithy Panh
In this article, I examine encounters with an artist and his art: Cambodian exile filmmaker Rithy Panh. In his cinematographic and artwork, Rithy Panh comes to terms with his childhood, the death of his family, and the suffering of his people during the Khmer Rouge regime and the genocide in Cambodia. Conflict and displacement are themes usually approached by researchers using language-based methods, which do not give us fully adequate insights into the “felt and experienced” temporal/spatial aspects of conflict and displacement. I frame my discussion through the reflective interaction between art, an artist with violent conflict and displacement background and the audience—a researcher. First, I examine how taking the sentipensar approach to research through art encounters and researcher as a thinking-feeling person contributes to a different understanding of personal trajectories, experiences of, and emotions connected to conflict, war, and displacement. My second aim is to analyze how artistic practice of Rithy Panh contributes to coming to terms with and to creating alternatives to the official public discourses about the past and the present, at individual and societal levels.
Reflections on the Banjara Community in Rajasthan, India
Reflecting on the generic construction of the nomad through discursive imaginaries and regulatory forms of control, this work engages in the interpretation of vigilance through the acknowledgment of its connectedness to the politics and practice of visuality. Based on essentialized interpretations of identity, ahistorical accounts of mobility, and stereotypical representations of difference, generalized nomadic representations legitimize measures of vigilance and subject formation. By reflecting on the representation of the Banjara community in Rajasthan, India, and their contexts of socioeconomic discrimination, the article thus emphasizes how acts of vigilance in the form of measures of classification and discipline operate in relation to imaginaries of normative order and social distinction, to engage in the structural reproduction of distance, difference and (in)visibility.
Black Consumers as Both “Wanted” and “Unwanted” in the Night-Time Economy
Drawing from a yearlong ethnography alongside police officers, door staff, and venue managers, this article explores my research participants’ conceptions, and governance of, “urban nights” in “Greenshire, UK.” My research participants used the term “urban nights” to refer to nighttime events where traditionally Black music is played, such as drill, grime, and R & B. In doing this, I reveal how institutional racism is embedded within policing cultures and everyday policing practices used to govern nightlife. In exploring how nightlife is governed in a white provincial context in Southern England, I uncover how the public and private police work together to produce nightlife as an “acceptably white space.” The article outlines the impact this has on the governance of “urban nights” and the management, access, and experiences of Black nighttime participants.
Lotte Buch Segal, Emilija Zabiliūtė, Marco Motta, Resto Cruz, Andrew M. Jefferson, and Veena Das
Working with Veena Das's Textures of the Ordinary: Anthropology after Wittgenstein By Lotte Buch Segal
Repairing the World: Ordinary Ethics and the Shadows of Moralism By Emilija Zabiliūtė
The Text's Texture By Marco Motta
The Residues of Kinship By Resto Cruz
Uncertain Relations with People, Practice, and Ethnographic Knowledge By Andrew M. Jefferson
The Moon Shadows: When Arguments Rest By Veena Das
Bernard B. Fyanka and Julaina A. Obika
Law and Disorder: Sovereignty, Protest, Atmosphere By Illan rua Wall. Routledge Taylor and Francis Group, 2021. 209pp. E-Book. ISBN: 978-0-429-33042-1.
Secrecy and Responsibility in the Era of an Epidemic: Letters from Uganda By Hanne Mogensen. London: Palgrave Macmillian, 2020. 246 pp. ISBN 978-3-030-47522-2. ISBN 978-3-030-47523-9 (e-Book).