Accepted paper:

Lateral surveillance and navigating secrecy in Miami, US

Authors:

Thijs Jeursen (University of Amsterdam)

Paper short abstract:

This paper discuss how police officers and citizens experienced and practiced so called 'vigilance campaigns' in the US. I argue that these vigilance campaigns have contributed to local tensions in which citizens were forced to navigate relationships with police officers and fellow citizens.

Paper long abstract:

This paper discusses how police officers and citizens experienced and practiced everyday security provision in Miami, US. I focus on the ways so-called 'vigilance campaigns' in the US have mobilized citizens to respond to a diversity of security concerns and public fear, framing threats as something coming from outside a collective of 'good citizens'. A collective that primarily existed on a national level, but entailed local practicalities. In the paper, I connect literature on surveillance and secrets by looking into the daily experience of having security-related secrets. I argue that these vigilance campaigns have contributed to local tensions in which citizens were forced to navigate relationships with police officers and fellow citizens. State policies and programs targeting security-related secrets have cultivated feelings of distrust, and resulted in alienation and individualization. In these campaigns citizens were imagined to be a member of a national community that ideally revealed each other's secretive and suspicious information. In practice however, people shift and connect simultaneously with multiple political communities as they experience political belonging to local, urban, and national collectives. Ultimately, I show that state agencies are able to expand the constructed category of security-related secrets to include other, mostly personal and private, information. The paper draws from eleven months of ethnographic fieldwork in Miami, during which I worked primarily with local patrol officers and residents in three very different, but geographically close neighborhoods.

panel P120
Antagonistic sociality: an anthropology of lives opposed