Boredom, (In)action, War and Warriors 2020 Conference

Country: Netherlands

City: Amsterdam

Abstr. due: 30.03.2020

Dates: 27.08.20 — 28.08.20

Area Of Sciences: History and archeology;

Organizing comittee e-mail:

Organizers: Dr. Younes Saramifar, Social & Cultural Anthropology, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and Humboldt University of Berlin


Boredom has often been defined as idleness, slowness, doing nothing, doing something over and over again, and waiting (Smith 1981, Daren 1999, Mæland & Brunstad 2009, Bergstein 2009, Prozak 2017). These definitions suggest that boredom is an experience that does not generate meanings and ideas by itself about itself. Boredom remains constantly relevant to sociocultural and political spheres only through its opposite. It is portrayed as the empty bubble, or the vacuum of functionality that gains relevance only through what it is not. Nietzsche (1974, 108) explains, “Boredom is that disagreeable ‘windless calm’ of the soul that precedes a happy voyage and cheerful winds.” He highlights boredom only through what it comes after it. However, we would like to suggest boredom encourages and stimulates thoughts, meanings, and ideas, snapping almost ‘magically’ out of itself. In another words, boredom is the way in and out of boredom. These approaches to boredom overlook the affective quality of boredom and its political capacities, because they only locate boredom through lack, absence and nothingness. This lack, absence and nothingness largely refers to inaction and disappearance of action. We identify this implicit dichotomy of ‘action versus inaction,and addressing inaction as the absence of action as a major theoretical and analytical glitch in understanding boredom. The action/inaction dichotomy overlooks how boredom becomes political and affective through the bodies and collectives that choose to do nothing, remain inactive and slip into the split between agency and subjectivity (Protevi 2011).

By acknowledging the action/inaction dichotomy and problematizing its link with boredom, we would like to ask how militarized bodies and weaponized subjectivities actually experience inaction and boredom? How do military personnel or non state-armed actors experience, explain and utter inaction? What is the other side of inaction and boredom for them? Does inaction and boredom influence their worldviews, their combat performances, and the perceptions of violence? Finally, how do boredom and inaction produce a vision of future and post-deployment?

We invite papers that address:

  • • Boredom, inaction and violence
  • • Boredom, inaction and creative aggression
  • • Boredom, inaction and transgressive play
  • • Boredom and inaction as political affect
  • • Boredom and inaction in policing
  • • Boredom and inaction in peace and peacekeeping
  • • Boredom and inaction in combat/battlefield
  • • Post-deployment boredom and inactivity
  • • Moralities of inaction and combat
  • • Temporalities of boredom and inaction
  • • Bored bodies in/actions
  • • Religious experience of boredom and inaction

We are especially interested in papers that are empirically oriented and based in ethnographic study of military, policing, militancy, and militarized bodies. We look forward to those from anthropology, sociology, human geography, cultural studies, history, political science, and related disciplines.

Conference Web-Site: