Vigilance: On Conflict, Social Invisibility, and Negative Potentiality

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This article analyses the relationship between conflict, social invisibility and negative potentiality. Taking its empirical point of departure in fieldwork conducted in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and Bissau, Guinea-Bissau, it illuminates the manner in which people orientate themselves toward precarious prospects and potentialities. It focuses on the way futures are foretold and the forth-coming negotiated in an attempt to pre-empt violent possibilities. Much has been written about the experiential implications of violence, as well as its structural, symbolic or ritual dimensions. Yet, little attention has been paid to the orientational effects generated by long term conflict – that is, the way that violence, not as a manifest violation but as an underlying possibility, an invisible, imagined oncoming event, influences social life. Moving from the empirical to the theoretical, and from the specific to the general, the article compares two specific areas of conflict and orientation toward negative potentiality before moving on to a more general discussion of invisibility and potentiality in social life and theory.
Original languageDanish
JournalSocial Analysis: The International Journal of Anthropology
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)93-114
Number of pages22
Publication statusPublished - 2011

ID: 35936628