The Order of Things and People: Vertical Non-State Surveillance
Socially produced security concerns underlie the proliferation of urban surveillance practices through informal policing. Neighborhood watch and neighborhood patrol initiatives have recently mushroomed in several countries in Europe, spurred by a culture of insecurity that has continuously and globally grown since the seventies. Such practices ... signal the intensification of struggles for social control and order in the urban space, but also the capillarization of surveillance, devolved from waning state institutions onto the citizenry. Neighborhood patrols police the urban landscape, blame suspect Others for spoiling it, and enforce a particular aesthetic order which, in turn, legitimizes social hierarchies along nation, race, gender, and class lines. Through an empirically informed analysis of the security practices enacted by a neighborhood patrol in the peripheries of Rome, I trace the genealogies and cultural tenets of what I call vertical non-state surveillance as a form of informal policing of subaltern Others in the urban space. I explore the ways in which this form of surveillance meets neoliberal conceptions of citizenship, becoming productive of new subjectivities and socialities, and argue that such forms of surveillance need to be linked with the political economies and the materialities of the urban spaces in which they emerge.
Original publication in
On_culture: the open journal for the study of culture 6 (2018)