Sharing the insecure sensible: the complex of securitarian visuality
(Philipps University Marburg)
Paper short abstract:
Drawing upon a digital ethnography of images circulated on social media by a group of vigilantes in Rome, I show how they ‘distribute the sensible’ to form—in Mirzoeff’s words—a complex of visuality which legitimises dominance, while simultaneously enacting a form of securitarian domopolitics.
Paper long abstract:
The paper draws upon a digital ethnography of images of Roma shared on Italian social media networks set up by a group of vigilantes; their emergent practice of patrolling the neighbourhood is justified, in their discourse, by the proximity of one of the largest Roma camps in the city, which instrumentalises the Roma, placing them at the core of their securitarian mobilisation.
My interpretation of the ethnographic material combines insights from Nicholas Mirzoeff's work on visuality as authority's work to exert and legitimate its dominance with Jacques Rancière's 'distribution of the sensible': the definition and apportionment, alongside power lines, of what is visible and what is not in a given, shared space. Rancière's original French wording, 'partage (du sensible)' has a supplementary connotation of sharing, thus of community-making, as well as a more recent, mundane meaning of 'sharing' content on social media. By coagulating these meanings in one lens, I will thus examine how the practice of sharing, on social media, specific types of visual content portraying Roma bodies amounts to a distribution of the sensible sustaining visuality as a system of power, while enacting a form of securitarian domopolitics by building a sense of community around the security discourse
I argue that these mechanisms of visual representations form what I call 'the complex of securitarian visuality', classifying and separating the undesirables while aestheticising the respect for the status-quo. My analysis interrogates the implications of these vernacular forms of securitarian visuality for Mirzoeff's theorisation of a 'post-panoptic' visuality.
Images and the imaginary of Home: analysing pictures and visual culture in times of securitization and domopolitics