Thursday, November 7, 2013

Colonial Surveillance

Elia Zureik recently published an article on colonial surveillance (in the Oct/Nov 2013 issue of Red Pepper). Census-taking, finger printing and other forms of colonial oversight, he argues, were a crucial part of constituting and ruling over colonial populations. Not only are these surveillance practices relevant for the colonised word, they also 'spilled over' to the colonising countries. Zureik illustrates this with historical cases (Alfred McCoy's research about the relation between the US and the Philippines), and with contemporary practices (the use of drones by Israel).

The latter argument indicates how post-colonial theory can be of interest to surveillance studies. We may also apply this to cases outside of the realm of geo-politics. Isolde Sprenkels' thesis about the construction of children's digital identities through new media and ICTs is a good example. Sprenkels uses post-colonial theory to draw a parallel between the constitution of colonial populations and childrens' consumer identities as 'others' that can be 'discovered' and intimately known through extensive monitoring and surveillance.

All in all, this means we have plenty of reasons to introduce a new reading list to this website: Colonial Surveillance!   

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