Antagonistic sociality: an anthropology of lives opposed

David Sausdal (University of Copenhagen)
Henrik Vigh (University of Copenhagen)
Start time:
15 August, 2018 at 9:00
Session slots:

Short abstract:

Presently, we are witnessing a dramatic growth in political and public fear and a subsequent policing of various incoming others. This panel explores how this has birthed an 'antagonistic sociality' and it looks at the existential ramifications for the people involved, be it the police or policed.

Long abstract:

Who do the police look for - and how? And, vice versa, how do suspects live under this regulatory gaze? This is the oppositional interaction explored by this panel. Indeed, examining the relation between the police and policed doesn't make for a particularly innovative research theme. However, it does make for a relevant one. Presently, we are witnessing a dramatic growth in fear of various incoming others. Most manifestly, this is seen in nation states' increasing means of surveilling and controlling suspected terrorists, cross-border criminals, refugees, and other precarious minorities. This means that in this transnational day and age a significant number of people are now living in what can be termed an 'antagonistic sociality' - insiders pitted against outsiders. From the heated political debate "we" are made to understand the need thereof. However, little knowledge still exists of the actual social situations and interactions involved. How, for instance, does the outlawed migrant experience a life formed around evading apprehension? And, reversely, how do officers experience being put in the first line of defense against alleged outside dangers? How do they look both for and at each other? Based on ethnographies of cross-border criminality and policing, and building on the literature of crime and criminalization, the panel provides answers thereto. In doing this, an 'anthropology of lives opposed' is developed. Sadly but truly, far from the realities of "life proper", but common to many people these days, this is how life is lived; in direct opposition to a significant other.