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Dürr, Eveline; Alderman, Jonathan; Whittaker, Catherine; Brenner, Christiane; Götz, Irene; Michel, Hannah; Rugel, Agnes; Röder, Brendan; Zelenskaia, Alena (2023): Becoming Vigilant Subjects. Wehrhahn, Hannover. ISBN 978-3-86525-998-1

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Kleine Reihe 3 Becoming Vigilant Subjects.pdf

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Becoming Vigilant Subjects argues that practices of vigilance are key to forming individual subjectivity. The book emerged from a multi-disciplinary working group at the Collaborative Research Center for ›Cultures of Vigilance‹ at LMU Munich. The authors include anthropologists, historians, and literary scholars. They draw on historically and culturally diverse case studies to examine how individuals develop their own vigilant selves in response to being observed by (often powerful) others – be they present, absent, or imagined. The authors argue that, in the interplay between this assumed observation and individual watchfulness, subjectivity emerges. However, as shown in the case studies, this is an ambivalent process. The focus of this book is therefore on the becoming – rather than being – of subjects against the backdrop of heightened attention, which is directed towards objectives beyond individual goals and tasks. The different cases, relating to the realm of religion, citizenship, and migration, show how individuals engage with, and potentially change, the social world within which they are embedded. All of these examples emphasize that subjects are not just shaped by the context of vigilance, but have agency and the ability to transform their own circumstances. Becoming Vigilant Subjects makes a valuable contribution to the as yet understudied topics of subjectivity and vigilance, by interrogating how both inform one another.

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