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Introduction

The Time of Epidemics

Christos Lynteris

The introduction to this special section of the journal argues that while it is widely accepted today that infectious disease epidemics are the result of long-term and complex social, ecological, economic and political processes, outbreaks are, more often than not, experienced on the ground as unexpected eruptions. This introduction defends the position that the dialectics between the evental and processual aspects of epidemics are good to think with anthropologically, and points to the consequences of this for an analysis of epidemic temporality in the context of emergent infectious disease discourse and intensifying biopolitical surveillance aimed at averting the 'next pandemic'.

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Black in France

The Language and Politics of Race in the Late Third Republic

Jennifer Anne Boittin

This article uses notes generated by France's surveillance of African and Afro-Caribbean migrants during the interwar years to analyze the use black men made of racial terms such as nègre and mulâtre. Although developed before the twentieth century, such racial language was infused with new political, social and cultural meaning after World War I. Workers and intellectuals, often at odds with each other, developed a race consciousness that was both a means of uniting in response to colonialism and a reaction against those within their communities who did not appear anti-imperial enough in their politics. Arguing that racial language expressed the nuances and range of black men's political and ideological stances with respect to the French Empire, this article traces the meanings granted to race and the important role in cultivating their significance played by members of organizations such as the Union des Travailleurs Nègres.

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(No) Time to Learn

Learning Effectiveness Temporalities in Norwegian First-Grade Classrooms

Kristian Garthus-Niegel and Brit Oppedal

This article examines the temporalizing effects of Tidlig Innsats—Early Years (TIEY), a literacy instruction program building on the school effectiveness pedagogic model. Ethnographic descriptions from several Norwegian first-grade classrooms document how the program's rigid and meticulous pedagogic standards shaped the social timing of TIEY lessons. In sum, the interaction dynamics in the classrooms were forced into patterns that we call 'learning effectiveness temporalities'. Several effects were observed beyond those officially intended, most notably an increased emphasis on producing orderly and disciplined behavioral norms. As TIEY implementation was politically driven, the learning effectiveness temporalities that it generated have been analyzed as state effects. Their intensity was found to fluctuate with seasonal activity cycles and administrative surveillance patterns.

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The Fines and the Spies

Fears of State Surveillance in Eritrea and in the Diaspora

David Bozzini

Since 2005, the Eritrean state has implemented measures against the increasing desertion of conscripts by retaliating against deserters' families. This article explores the fears spread by this measure in Eritrea and analyzes how people have interpreted its erratic enforcement, including in those countries to which deserters have fled in massive numbers to seek political asylum. The retaliation has served to 'export' fears about the Eritrean state's surveillance abroad and has reshaped political imagination concerning the power of the Eritrean authoritarian state in the diaspora. I argue that imaginings about the state play a crucial role by curbing the political dissidence of new exiles and by giving rise to new fault lines in the diaspora communities in ways that are beneficial to the current Eritrean leadership.

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Un Passage À L'Acte Improbable?

Notes de recherche sur la trajectoire sociale de Zacarias Moussaoui

Stéphane Beaud and Olivier Masclet

La France découvre, au lendemain des attentats du 11 septembre 2001 et de la guerre en Afghanistan, qu’elle a couvé en son sein des jeunes, nés ou élevés dans le pays, qui sont devenus des soldats de l’islamisme radical. Antoine Sfeir, directeur des Cahiers de l’Orient, estime à 150 le nombre de jeunes Français qui seraient impliqués dans les réseaux islamistes proches de Al Quaïda. Le plus connu d’entre eux, Zacarias Moussaoui, 33 ans, fiché depuis 1999 par la Direction de la Surveillance du Territoire (D.S.T.) comme « susceptible d’appartenir au Jihad international », est soupçonné d’être le vingtième pirate de l’air des attentats du 11 septembre 2001. Emprisonné aux États-Unis, il risque la peine de mort. On peut aussi citer Djamel Beghal, arrêté à Dubaï en juillet 2001, et son adjoint Kamel Daoudi, 27 ans, informaticien de formation, tous deux d’origine algérienne et également suspectés d’appartenir au même réseau Al Quaïda.

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From Purgatory to Sentinel

'Forms/Events' in the Field of Zoonoses

Frédéric Keck

This article discusses Paul Rabinow's notion of 'form/event' in the light of the current management of Avian Influenza in Hong Kong. While this notion allows the study of how life sciences produce events by turning scarcity of material into abundance of information, Paul Rabinow applied it to the scene of biotechnologies where values about life are suspended in what he calls purgatory. I suggest that, for the anticipation of epidemics from the animal reservoir, the form/event is not a suspension of values but a communication by signs in what I call, following Hong Kong microbiologists, a sentinel. Moving from purgatory to sentinel in the field of biosecurity opens a plurality of scales at which events happen, and transforms the model of subjectivity, from pastoral care to hunting relationships. This theoretical shift sheds light on the ethnography of Avian Flu in Hong Kong, where birdwatchers have allied with microbiologists to practise animal surveillance.

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Color-Coded Sovereignty and the Men in Black

Private Security in a Bolivian Marketplace

Daniel M. Goldstein

The appearance of effective security making—demonstrated through surveillance, visibility, and ongoing performance—is significant to contemporary sovereign authority in urban spaces characterized by quotidian violence and crime. This article examines La Cancha, Cochabamba, Bolivia’s enormous outdoor market, which is policed not by the state but by private security firms that operate as nonstate sovereign actors in the space of the market. The article provides an ethnographic account of one of these firms (the Men in Black), and documents the work of both municipal and national police—all of them distinguished by differently colored uniforms—in the management of crime, administration of justice, and establishment of public order in the market. Sovereignty here is derived through public performance, both violent and nonviolent, through which the Men in Black demonstrate and maintain their sovereign power.

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Sezin Topçu

This article adduces evidence of the central role played by scientists in the 1970s and “lay persons” in the post-Chernobyl period in the production and legitimation of alternative types of knowledge and expertise on the environmental and health risks of nuclear energy in France. From a constructivist perspective, it argues that this shift in the relationship of “lay persons” to knowledge production is linked not only to the rise of mistrust vis-à-vis scientific institutions but also, and especially, to a change in the way they have reacted to “dependency” on institutions and to “state secrecy”. Counter-expertise is constructed as a politics of surveillance where alternative interpretations of risk are buttressed by a permanent critique of the epistemic assumptions of institutional expertise. The identity of “counter-expert” is socially elaborated within this process.

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Policing at a distance and that human thing

An appreciative critique of police surveillance

David Sausdal

Policing technologies are increasingly being developed to surveil and control people from afar. This is especially true in relation to cross-border crimes and other global threats where the necessity of monitoring such illegal flows is often advocated. In the literature, this is sometimes referred to as “policing at a distance,” signifying how the growth in different policing technologies is allowing police to oversee people without coming into physical contact with them. Overall, scholars find this development alarming. It is alarming because it reduces human lives to data points and because studies have shown how policing at a distance may trigger hateful police attitudes. With these problems of policing at a distance in mind, this article explores how an increasing use of surveillance technologies affects Danish detectives.

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“Purely Artistic”

Police Power and Popular Culture in Colonial Algerian Theater

Danielle Beaujon

Following World War II, French police surveillance in Algeria increasingly focused on the threat of Algerian nationalism and policing theater proved no exception. The police assiduously investigated the contents of plays and the background of performers, seeking to determine whether a performance could be considered “purely artistic.” In cracking down on theater, the police attempted to produce “pro-French” art that could influence Algerian loyalties, a cultural civilizing mission carried out by the unlikely figure of the beat cop. Ultimately, their mission failed. Live performances presented an opportunity for spontaneity and improvisation that revealed the weakness of colonial policing. In this article, I argue that in trying to separate art from politics, the police created an impossibly capacious idea of the political, giving officers justification for inserting themselves into intimate moments of daily life. The personal, the interpersonal, and the artistic became a realm of police intervention.