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Open access

Chris van der Borgh

This article looks at the everyday security practices of local residents in violent local orders, where capacities and strategies of state and non-state armed actors to produce regularity and stability are weak and contested. It discusses the case of gang-controlled neighborhoods in the metropolitan area of Greater San Salvador, El Salvador, in the years 2017–2018, when security “provision” of armed state and nonstate actors was weak and contested, and as a result civilians mostly took care of themselves. The article analyzes the main characteristics of local violent orders, the insecurity experiences of local residents, and the everyday practices of local residents to deal with these circumstances. It argues that in neighborhoods where security provision by state and non-state actors is weak and contested, everyday security practices of local residents are key to understanding the functioning and reproduction of the local forms of “disordered order.

Open access

Rachel Lewis

This article examines the navigation and enactment of vigilance in the UK citizenship regime. Drawing on data from a four-year research project in a UK city, including observations of citizenship ceremonies and interviews with institutional actors and citizen-candidates, it sees vigilance as a central feature of the naturalization process, with watchfulness oriented toward three key areas: the bureaucratic precision, the linguistic proficiency, and the commitment to the nation evidenced by the citizen-candidate. It sees the navigation of anxious vigilance among all actors—state, institutional, and citizen-candidates—but argues that this is directed unevenly, with the state’s securitizing gaze particularly maintained upon those racialized as Other. Reading citizenship in domopolitical terms as a technology through which the securitized state can enact its bordering practices, it sees the vigilance enacted in the naturalization process as productive: as working to realize the legitimacy of the state and the Good citizen, to articulate and exclude from membership those deemed illegitimate, and, ultimately, to curtail possibilities for solidarity.

Open access

Book Forum

Francio Guadeloupe, Black Man in the Netherlands: An Afro-Antillean Anthropology (Jackson: University of Mississippi Press, 2022)

Dastan Abdali, Charissa Granger, Marleen de Witte, Basile Ndjio, Dave Ramsaran, Miriyam Aouragh, and Francio Guadeloupe

Francio Guadeloupe, Black Man in the Netherlands: An Afro-Antillean Anthropology (Jackson: University of Mississippi Press, 2022)

Open access

Creating Spaces of Music Asylum in Ethnically Divided Contexts

Young People’s Accounts from Bosnia and Herzegovina and Sri Lanka

Gillian Howell and Solveig Korum

This article explores the ways in which arts experiences in conflicted and territorialized settings may invite a heightened engagement with space, and what this suggests about creative experiences as a vehicle for transforming space and the (re)construction of one’s presence and place in the world. Presenting ethnographic data from two youth music projects established after the wars in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Sri Lanka and argued from the perspective of musician-practitioner-researchers, the authors examine how musical interaction, improvisation, and performance creation enabled processes of exploring, reconfiguring, and expanding the participants’ identities and sense of place in the surrounding world. Using Tia DeNora’s conceptualization of “music asylum,” the article shows how strategies of removal and refurnishing created creative and safe spaces in which alternative lives and more complex identities could be rehearsed and conflict narratives could be revised, fostering a temporary transformation of space that is captured in metaphors like bubble, refuge, and sanctuary.

Open access

Embodied Agency

Creating Room for Maneuver through Dance in Palestine

Sara Christophersen

In this article I explore the experiences of three dance artists living and working in Palestine through the concept of “embodied agency.” Based on fieldwork in Palestine and a decade of professional engagement as a dancer and choreographer with the Palestinian dancing community, I examine how the body—through the practice of dance—creates movement in the artists’ lives. Th e article highlights how embodied and expressive spaces of dance expand the artists’ possibilities and room for maneuver. I argue that in the context of protracted occupation, like Palestine, where individuals have little possibility to impact their situation, zooming into the body can be a powerful way to identify spaces where it is possible to have influence on oneself and others.

Open access

Framing the “Refugee Hunter”

Gender and Nationalist Perspectives on Border Vigilance in Bulgaria

Kristina Ilieva

In this article, I explore the construction of the “refugee crisis” from the perspective of border vigilantes in Bulgaria. Drawing on ethnography in Harmanli, a border town with a refugee camp, the article explores how the identity and agency of the “refugee hunter” emerged. I argue that the gendered identity of the “refugee hunter” combines a national feminized victim and a vigilant masculinized protector. The masculinized protector patrols the Bulgarian-Turkish border in order to defend the victimized national community from the immigrant Other and the nongoverning state. The article illustrates that the refugee hunter identity has produced a new mode of hegemonic masculinity, where immigrant men and women are constructed as criminals, while men’ border patrols as heroic.

Open access

“How to Live a Good Life”

Self-managing Reproductive Health for Adolescent Refugees in Kampala

George Palattiyil, Ann-Christin Zuntz, Harish Nair, Paul Bukuluki, and Kalyango Ronald Sebba

This article provides an ethnographically informed critique of the humanitarian self-management model that informs reproductive health trainings for young urban refugees in Kampala, Uganda. It draws on interviews with 16 adolescent refugees, as well as policymakers, aid workers and health care professionals in Kampala in April 2019. We found that reproductive health education training sessions are a site of gendered learning where displaced boys and girls gain an understanding of what it means “how to live a good life” and how to become marriage material. Their focus on self-control also reflects a wider shift in humanitarianism toward female empowerment as a tool of neoliberal governance. In a low-resource context, however, “self-managing” one’s reproductive health takes on a different meaning, as displaced adolescents weigh up opportunities for short-term income from transactional sex with imagined reproductive futures elsewhere.

Open access


The Power and Productivity of Vigilance Regimes

Ana Ivasiuc, Eveline Dürr, and Catherine Whittaker

This introduction to the special section charts the ways in which the concept of vigilance has been loosely conceptualized at the intersection between security, surveillance, and border studies. It rethinks vigilance through the conceptual lens of vigilance regimes, as well as through the productivity of watchfulness in different contexts. Vigilance is conceptualized as an assemblage of moral ideas, belonging, increased attention, and social practice, located in certain sociopolitical contexts, concrete spaces, and technologies. Regimes of vigilance are defined as complex assemblages of practices and discourses that mobilize alertness for specific goals, which are embedded in particular materialities of watchfulness, and which in turn have effects on social practice and processes of subjectivation. This introduction calls for greater analytic attention toward the agency that vigilance produces, and seeks to define vigilance and the regimes that it constitutes, offering a productive lens for the study of socially mobilized alertness.

Open access


Art, Violent Conflict, and Displacement

Katarzyna Grabska and Cindy Horst

Violent conflict and displacement reconfigure societies in abrupt, dramatic, and often contradictory ways. Power relations are often shaken up, with new social hierarchies emerging. Artists play a central role in periods of uncertainty and volatility, both as commentators of events and as inspirators for change. This special section explores the role of art practice in transformation in contexts of violent conflict and displacement. The articles focus on artists that either create in the context of oppression and control or respond to these contexts by creating spaces of resistance, life in and with violent conflict, transformation, and inspiration. The articles discuss a range of initiatives and artistic practices that take place in a variety of contexts, from artists involved in societal transformation in Afghanistan, Cambodia, and Syria, to artists working in Palestine, Chad, Sri Lanka, and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Open access

The Patrols’ City

Vigilance and Intimacy on Barcelona’s Streets

Corina Tulbure

In Barcelona, in the name of convivencia (a concept that means togetherness, conviviality, public order), various municipal services have created teams to patrol the city. These are “proximity” services, a type of social vigilance managed by social patrols who aim to survey specific areas in Barcelona within which poor, illegalized, and racialized people, move, work, and live. Drawing on ethnographic notes and interviews with the patrols and people affected by this “proximity” vigilance, I show how institutional vigilance produces insecurity and perceptions of conflicts. In addition, this vigilant presence disrupts the intimacy of affected people, taking away their autonomy and producing alienation. Paradoxically, in the name of convivencia, the vigilance of illegalized and racialized people produces their isolation from the city, creating a social and racial order.