The Patrols’ City

Vigilance and Intimacy on Barcelona’s Streets

in Conflict and Society
Corina TulbureBabeș-Bolyai University, Romania

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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.

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