Accepted paper:

What's the role of the Night-patrol?


Helena Larsson (Ethnology)

Paper short abstract:

This paper is focusing how formal and informal power structures and authorities are created, negotiated and sustained in a Swedish rural setting by investigating the phenomena of locally organized surveillance-groups and their conduct. Keywords: Belonging, Gathering, Othering, Appearing, Worlding.

Paper long abstract:

The issue of locally organized surveillance-groups is interesting in connection to the on-going civil debate concerning vigilantes and the lack of resources to serve and protect the public from experienced threats. I am discussing the subject in relation to history, collective memory, identity and objects, senses and feelings of safety and uncertainty related to space and place in a time of transition and transformation. The area of investigation is Knäred in Halland, a small in-land village in the south of Sweden. Traditionally the inhabitants have been subsisting on farming, forestry and small scale crafts and industry. In resent time it is also common that villagers are employed in the local well-fare services or commuting to jobs in the neighbouring area. In the beginning of the 1990th this relatively calm place was afflicted by settlers using drugs and the following criminal activities that followed in the wake. As a result of iterate break-ins in stores, work-shops and deposits some of the local entrepreneurs took the matter in their own hands and organized a private night-patrol that since then are driving around specific routes, watching for suspicious people and cars dwelling in the area. This patrol engages 60 to 70 villagers who take turns driving in accordance with a fixed schedule. The purpose is to disturb worrying elements and report activities to the police. The paper investigates this phenomenon in relation to self-representation and kinship, homeliness, gender roles, affects and the conflicting state between the urban and the peripheral.

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