By Alper Alcanal
Quarantining has become an important part of security practices, especially in relation to biosecurity and the walled contexts in which it takes place. First of all, walls display the most basic form of security imagined in the classical sense, protecting a referent object on the imagined inside from the multitude of possible threats on the outside. The narrative formed around walls then shows the securitization process to resemble that of an individual’s body. As Wendy Brown describes it in Desiring Walls, the ideas associated with walling appear to focus on securing a sovereign’s power, and in the case that there is a breach, the whole foundation of a sovereign’s power breaks down. The inside environment of the walls is projected as pure and healthy, while the outside is projected to be contaminating and frightening. Creating physical boundaries and choked contact points between the inside and the outside allows the power exerciser to appear as maintaining good and bad circulations of human bodies and the risks associated with them, this in turn provides the sovereign an easier hold on controlling internal discourse when they so need it.
Again, before getting into any imaginary conception of circulation, risk, and breach, it is important to lay a foundational understanding of the physical factors that go into creating security and disciplinary societies. Walls allow a sovereign to directly simulate protection to its audience the general public, and also to imprint on the public the ideas of juxtaposed purity and infectivity between the outside and inside. Some walling campaigns such as the one on the Israeli-Gaza border include defacing on purpose for the seeming purpose of inciting reaction to an ugly thing as a manifestation of what lies behind it. Having actual, physical walls allows for there to be reproduction of the reaction intended by the authority holders. Society continues and amplifies such contrasting ideas of inside versus outside throughout itself, more and more through daily practices, possibly to the point that many people come to expect and even perform harsher differentiation between members of inside and outside publics.
Quarantines provide an interesting mix between mysteriously behind-the-scenes practices at choked contact points along walls, yet also a very visible method of segregating individuals or whole populations from the rest. The practices conducted within a quarantine are generally not made observable to others, this step of marking unhealthy bodies is perhaps for physical control reasons, but also to for the “unhealthy” individuals themselves to know they can be assumed to be a threat until otherwise proven. Until their biology can proven secure for the continuing circulations in this system. However, the process of separating so-called unhealthy bodies from the general circulating group serves to show power flexing to any others in sight. It serves as a reminder that those whose biologies are not seen as secure for the others’ circulation and mobility can be taken into a menacing system discipline, therefore those bodies projected as obvious threats must be extracted or excluded by the general population, and perhaps individuals themselves.