Being observant and observed: embodied citizenship training in the Home Guard and the Boy Scout Movement, 1907-1945
journal contributionposted on 06.06.2013, 08:57 by James Robinson, Sarah Mills
Building upon recent studies by geographers and social scientists on the everyday practices of (scientific) observation, this paper focuses on the role of two distinct, yet similar organisations that held observation as an essential and ‘automatic’ embodied skill. Utilising the examples of Home Guard camouflage and the Boy Scout Movement, the paper critically examines how these organisations sought to articulate the individual as both observer and observed, thereby exposing a much more complex entanglement of different visual positions and practices hitherto neglected in studies of observation. Moreover, the paper emphasises the importance of the act of ‘not-being-seen’ as a complementary and fundamental aspect of (non-)observational practice, accentuated and promoted by civic institutions in terms of duty and responsibility. Finally, the paper considers the evolutionary aspects of observation through the lifecourse, revealing a complex, relational geography of expertise, experience and skill that crossed age-distinctions.
- Social Sciences
- Geography and Environment