Boredom, (In)action, War and Warriors

deadline for submissions: 
March 30, 2020
full name / name of organization: 
Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
contact email: 

Boredom, (In)action, War and Warriors

27 & 28 August 2020, Amsterdam

Confirmed Keynote speaker: Professor Mark Kingwell, University of Toronto

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 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.

The two-days workshop will open up an interdisciplinary platform to think about

boredom and inaction while meeting other like-minded academics. We expect the

invited participants to submit their papers (max 5000 words) in advance and the

papers will be distributed to others and the discussants in order to foster further


The organizers intend to publish the accepted papers either as special issue or an

edited volume. The accepted papers will be treated as drafts, which participants should

revise after feedbacks from others. The revised papers will be peer reviewed. The

editors will decide to accept or reject them.

Those interested to present and participate should send us an abstract an abstract of

maximum 400 words along with 100 words bio note to Dr. Eva van Roekel

( and before 30th March , 2020


Dr. Younes Saramifar, Social & Cultural Anthropology, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

and Humboldt University of Berlin

Dr. Eva van Roekel, Social & Cultural Anthropology, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam