Lockdown and the intimate entanglements of terror, virus, and militarism

Suncana Laketa*, Sara Fregonese

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Despite their wide implementation since the COVID-19 pandemic, lockdowns are not spatial interventions unique to public health emergencies but have also recently been used to tackle the aftermath of acts of terrorism against crowded public spaces in cities. In this paper, we argue that lockdown, as a state-sanctioned security measure, bears longer political (often violent) histories that link individual mobility to geopolitics in corporeal and even visceral ways. Drawing on research on the lockdown of Brussels in 2015 and 2016 and the state of emergency in France between 2015 and 2017. We put these counterterrorism lockdowns in conversation with the lockdowns imposed as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic in Europe. The paper analyses the embodied, emotional and spatial politics of lockdown through the lens of intimate geopolitics. Specifically, we explore two themes: the reconfiguring of the intimate sphere in the terrorism/pandemic nexus and the curation of micro-vigilance between counterterrorism and public health. In doing so, we argue that the militarism of the state responses to COVID-19 virus needs to be understood as more than discursive framing of the “war on virus”, but rather a making present of a “war-like” situation to intimate bodies, spaces and subjectivities. The sphere of the intimate is thus considered at the forefront of the spatial logic of lockdown, as it deploys assumptions about (in)security, threat, danger and preparedness in ways that entrench and exacerbate existing social inequalities.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1521 - 1535
JournalEnvironment and Planning C: Politics and Space
Issue number8
Early online date1 Dec 2022
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2023


  • Lockdown
  • public health
  • feminist geopolitics
  • counter-terrorism
  • intimate


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