Histories of the Surveillance Society: Transnational Contexts
Edited by Robert Heynen and Emily van der Meulen
A growing number of scholars have argued that today we live in a ‘surveillance society,’ suggesting that, especially with the spread of digital technologies, surveillance and data collection have become globally ubiquitous, driving everything from state security practices to consumer culture. This is the context for the emergence of the field of surveillance studies, which has expanded enormously over the past twenty years. But how new is this surveillance society? What are its dimensions, and how have they come into being internationally?
A small but expanding body of scholarship has traced important histories, showing that many surveillance practices are not as novel as sometimes thought. Indeed, important works have been published on histories of medical surveillance (Cartwright 1995; Fairchild et al. 2007), surveillant criminology (Sekula 1986; Cole 2001; Finn 2009), and the emergence of practices of identification (Torpey 2000; Caplan & Torpey 2001; Groebner 2007; Bennett & Lyon 2008; About et al. 2013). We have also seen an opening up of perspectives from outside the European and Anglo-American worlds (Anderson 2004; McCoy 2009; Breckenridge 2014), and from Indigenous perspectives (K. Smith 2009).
This collection seeks to further broaden and deepen these emerging historical perspectives, and to break new ground in thinking about how histories of surveillance have shaped modern social systems over the course of the 19th and 20th centuries. The approach of the volume is global, incorporating transnational perspectives and work from the global South. How has surveillance shaped the emergence of modern mass industrial societies, capitalism, and colonialism? What role have new media and information technologies played in this process? In what ways are various people and populations differentially targeted by and implicated in these surveillance practices?
We encourage submissions from scholars working in surveillance studies, but also those outside the field seeking to rethink their work through the lens of surveillance. We particularly encourage submissions that draw on critical literature engaging with gender, race and racialization, labour, disability, sexuality, and class.
Chapter topics may include, but are not limited to:
- The historical role of new media and information technologies (e.g., photography, film, databases) in the shaping of various global systems of surveillance
- The role of both state and non-state forms of surveillance in histories of intra- or transnational migration (e.g., identification systems, border control mechanisms, status/non-status peoples)
- Histories of medical surveillance, including of specific diseases and blood borne viruses (e.g., tuberculosis, sexually transmitted infections), and the differential targeting of various bodies
- The constitution of disability through regimes of surveillance, including eugenic identifications, interventions, and regulations
- Cultural representations and engagements with surveillance, including but not limited to literature, film, visual art, and popular culture
- Capitalism, labour, and surveillance, in particular in relation to accumulation by dispossession, poor and vagrancy laws, workers and labour processes, and Marx’s and Marxist approaches
- State surveillance of political movements and dissidents (e.g., Red scares and anti-Communism, COINTELPRO, suppression of national liberation struggles, dirty wars in Latin America and elsewhere, dissent in the Eastern Bloc, surveillance in authoritarian states)
- The production of gendered subjects and the elaboration of gender binaries, including the policing and surveillance of queer, trans, and gender non-conforming bodies
- Histories of criminology, including the development of policing, growth of penal systems, and the extension of biometric practices (e.g., crainometry, physiognomy, fingerprinting)
- Surveillant strategies of colonial governance and the elaboration of racialized hierarchies, including colonial policing and military, labour exploitation, and settler practices
- Architecture, urban planning, and surveillance, in particular how these are shaped by the specific power dynamics at play in different global locations and historical periods
- Systems of identity and registration (e.g., the Koseki system in Japan, pass laws in South Africa and elsewhere, criminal registries of specific populations)
- Resistance, resilience, and responses to the various practices of surveillance outlined above, including how forms of counter-surveillance or sousveillance have been used in emancipatory social and political projects, and the role of surveillance in radical and revolutionary movements
Interested contributors should send a 300-400 word abstract and 100 word bio by Nov. 10th, 2016 to Histories.Surveillance@
Robert Heynen is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication Studies at York University, Canada. He is co-editor of 'Expanding the Gaze: Gender and the Politics of Surveillance' (University of Toronto Press, 2016) and author of 'Degeneration and Revolution: Radical Cultural Politics and the Body in Weimar Germany' (Brill, 2015).
Emily van der Meulen is an Associate Professor in the Department of Criminology at Ryerson University, Canada. She is co-editor of 'Expanding the Gaze: Gender and the Politics of Surveillance' (University of Toronto Press, 2016) and 'Selling Sex: Experience, Advocacy, and Research on Sex Work in Canada' (University of British Columbia Press, 2013).