Hidden in Full View: The Organization of Public Secrecy in Miéville’s The City and the City

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Abstract

In this article, we explore China Mieville’s novel The City and the City as a literary experiment for analyzing the dynamics of public secrecy. We explore public secrets as an intrinsic part of organizational life and as a framework for paying attention to the politics of organizing. First, we focus on the novel’s invention and use of the verb ‘unseeing’ to bring out the embodied and sensuous aspects of public secrecy as part of organizational processes. Second we unfold how, although the content of public secrets may turn out to be less spectacular than expected, it is exactly their mundaneness which is key to their political importance. This is important because in an increasingly disorganized and uncertain world, secrecy proliferates and the visibility of secrecy is often a strategic move to justify certain hidden actions.
In this article, we explore China Mieville’s novel The City and the City as a literary experiment for analyzing the dynamics of public secrecy. We explore public secrets as an intrinsic part of organizational life and as a framework for paying attention to the politics of organizing. First, we focus on the novel’s invention and use of the verb ‘unseeing’ to bring out the embodied and sensuous aspects of public secrecy as part of organizational processes. Second we unfold how, although the content of public secrets may turn out to be less spectacular than expected, it is exactly their mundaneness which is key to their political importance. This is important because in an increasingly disorganized and uncertain world, secrecy proliferates and the visibility of secrecy is often a strategic move to justify certain hidden actions.
LanguageEnglish
JournalCulture and Organization
Number of pages13
ISSN1475-9551
DOIs
StatePublished - 12 Dec 2018

Bibliographical note

Epub ahead of print. Published online: 12. December 2018

Keywords

  • Organizational secrets
  • Public secrecy
  • China Mieville
  • The City and the City
  • Fiction in organization studies
  • Embodied unseeing

Cite this

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title = "Hidden in Full View: The Organization of Public Secrecy in Mi{\'e}ville’s The City and the City",
abstract = "In this article, we explore China Mieville’s novel The City and the City as a literary experiment for analyzing the dynamics of public secrecy. We explore public secrets as an intrinsic part of organizational life and as a framework for paying attention to the politics of organizing. First, we focus on the novel’s invention and use of the verb ‘unseeing’ to bring out the embodied and sensuous aspects of public secrecy as part of organizational processes. Second we unfold how, although the content of public secrets may turn out to be less spectacular than expected, it is exactly their mundaneness which is key to their political importance. This is important because in an increasingly disorganized and uncertain world, secrecy proliferates and the visibility of secrecy is often a strategic move to justify certain hidden actions.",
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author = "Birke Otto and Pors, {Justine Gr{\o}nb{\ae}k} and Rasmus Johnsen",
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