The Terrors of Hypervigilance: Security and the Compromised Spaces of Contemporary Childhood

  • Cindi Katz


On 11 September 2001 ‘a screaming came across the sky’.1 The events of that horrific day laced into the United States’s insular presumptions of security, and the ongoing responses to the attacks and what they signified in the US imaginary have made clear the imperial privilege and xenophobic rancour upon which that security is built. I have been resistant to talking about 11 September in part because so much of my intellectual project has been to draw links between the lives of children and the prospects for young people in rural Sudan and racialized working-class New York City, and these events seemed to collapse that connection into a fatal arc that at the moment of their occurrence reminded me of the phrase Thomas Pynchon used to describe the parabolic arc of Germany’s V2 rockets in World War II, ‘gravity’s rainbow’. Given my commitments to young people in New York and Sudan and the sorts of connections I have spent my career drawing between them — which I have come to call ‘countertopographies’ — I feel compelled to address the dangers of the reductionism that enables the binaries of ‘us’ and ‘them’ when the construction of otherness — and similarity or connection — is so much more complicated and potentially productive than that. This endeavour is loaded with a different kind of ‘gravity’: the gravity of living in the shards of capitalist modernity. It is the gravity of this situation that links young people in New York and Sudan, among many other places.


Public Space Community Garden Social Reproduction Public Environment Public Open Space 
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© Cindi Katz 2005

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  • Cindi Katz

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