From God's eye to the Big Brother's room.
Geographies of espionage
The function of the eye that spies on us all apparently has never been benevolent, be it a tangible eye, an intangible, or a technological one. From the stern God of the Old Testament who tracked down the culprits and punished them to the evolution of modern dystopias, the eye has become increasingly implacable, ubiquitous, and immediate in its expressions, so that there is no time, nor space, left for a postponed punishment. If we want to find a good eye, a fair spy, it is necessary to shift to the side of the observer, of the hero (in this case, with no anti prefix), who sacrifices his/her safety for a larger good, with no doubts or hesitations. The key to the requalification of the role of the spy apparently lies in the transformation from a passive to an active and cognizant activity.
The crucial role of the Government is quite obvious. On the one hand, its eye observes the countless trifles of our lives, with the most modern means, authoritatively replacing the role of the ancient consciense. On the other hand, the Government enlists and instructs operation observators, assimilating the passage from active to passive. However, it also decides about later inclusions or exclusions at its own will, to the extent that it feeds apparently unconsciously government monsters within the Government, who are instigated by unsettling puppet masters that are never punished or tracked down. The recurring abdication of public authority over its functions, as well as its interests in presumably illegal private business, are some of the features that characterize the modern literary dystopia, which can never do without observing, and, why not, listening. Consequently, the ancient borderlines within fiction utopias and dystopias, noirs, thrillers, spy-stories become increasingly blurred, as they try to keep up with an alluvial and dystopian reality.
Our aim is to fuel a debate on a specific aspect of this story, namely on the mortgage on the space that comes from the spying activity. Indeed, in our collective imagination the spy is often associated to a certain mobility, to a certain seminomadic feature which is often functional to his/her fictional representation. However, we mean to focus on the places where spies carry out their missions, on the territoriality of their fields of action, on their national and geographical belonging, on the rooms where they carry out their activities, or which are the object of their operations, up to the modern requalification of the spaces that used to be the object of the unfaithful gaze and are now used to preserve the fruits as well as the tools of such activities.
The contributions of the eleventh issue of Other Modernities will exchange views on such a scenario.
Within this context, we welcome proposals focusing on the following topics:
The spy's nationality and its antagonistic relationship with its own territory, as well as with foreign countries;
Museum and archival realities of past espionage;
Precedence relationships between fiction and reality in specific geopolitics, whenever it is possible to find any;
The development of such themes in specific political, ethnic, religious, or gender realities;
The gossip "genre" in newsmagazines, cinema, television, and literature;
The Big Brother phenomenon, and, more generally, the success of the candid camera format;
The lives of others, the other's gaze: privacy and social control in the contemporary world.
Should potential contributors submit other proposals on the topic, they will be taken into consideration by the Scientific Committee, with a view to enriching the investigation of the current issue of the review with the most articulated and original suggestions.
Abstracts, alongside a list of bibliographical references (between 10 and 20 lines long) and a short CV, should be submitted to the email address firstname.lastname@example.org no later than 10th September 2013.
Acceptance of contributions will be notified by 15th September 2013.
The deadline for submission of papers is 15th January 2014.
The issue will be published by late May 2014.
We also welcome book reviews and interviews to authors and scholars who investigate the aforementioned topics.
Contributors are free to contact the editors to discuss and clarify the objectives of their proposals, with a view to making the issue as homogeneous as possible also from a methodological point of view. The editors can be contacted via the Editorial Secretary (email@example.com).
Paolo Caponi, Irina Bajini
Universitΰ degli Studi di Milano
Sezione di Studi Culturali - aula 1051
P.zza Montanelli, 1
20099 Sesto San Giovanni (MI)
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