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Surveillance

Practices of surveillance is inextricably linked with societal control that privileges the protection of certain groups and policing minority populations—their affirmation results in the worst form of violence against women and minority populations


Mason & Magnet 12 [Corinne Lysandra, and Shoshana Magnet. "Surveillance studies and violence against women." surveillance & society 10, no. 2 (2012): 105-118.]

Surveillance practices and their relationship to inequality have a long history, from the surveillance of slaves through a reliance on identity documents (Parenti 2003) to the scrutiny of those receiving certain forms of aid from the state (Eubanks 2006; Monahan 2010).1 As contemporary scholarship within surveillance studies documents (Doyle et al. 2012; Lyon 2009; Lyon 2006; Andrejevic 2007; KohlerHausmann 2007), the surveillance of consumers by companies and of citizens by the state intensified dramatically since the late 1970s. This rise in surveillance practices is productive and has resulted in the birth of a new range of surveillance technologies, from computer programs able to track the exact number of minutes that an employee spends on the phone (Head 2003) to personal digital assistants (PDAs) that transmit the user’s exact geographic location. Scholarship within surveillance studies notes the relationship of surveillance to inequality, whether it is the scrutiny of immigrants and refugees (Zureik and Salter 2005) or the policing of folks living in low-income neighbourhoods (Gates 2011). Less attention has been concentrated on intersectional feminist approaches to surveillance that examine its relationship to racisms, sexisms, ableisms, and homo- and trans- phobias. That is, while inequalities have been paid serious attention in the field, axioms of oppression are rarely analysed simultaneously. Moreover, surveillance practices are intimately connected to stalking and have had tremendous consequences for violence against women, and yet the implications of the rise of surveillance for VAW are less studied in the field of surveillance studies, with a few excellent exceptions (Eubanks 2006; Römkens 2006; Southworth et al. 2005). An upcoming volume titled Feminist Surveillance Studies notes in its introduction that studies on the surveillance of women have a long history, even if they are not explicitly named as such (Magnet and Dubrofsky, under contract). From Laura Mulvey’s article ‘Visual Practices and Narrative Cinema’ (1975) on practices of looking at women in film to bell hooks’ foundational work on the power of the white supremacist gaze (1992), violent ways of visually dismembering and reconstituting women’s bodies using new visualization technologies are not new. Nor is the institutional scrutiny and regulation of women’s bodies a new phenomenon. Including the sterilization of women of colour and women with disabilities as part of neo-eugenics programmes in the U.S., as well as the scrutiny of women receiving particular forms of aid from the state, women have long been policed by state institutions (Smith 2007; Smith 2008; Eubanks 2006; Kohler-Hausmann 2007). Unsurprisingly, the state is not the only actor capable of violently surveying women’s bodies and behaviours. Surveillance practices, in some cases ones that were explicitly developed by the state such as welfare registries and emergency hotlines to report welfare or immigration violations, are now being adopted by abusers in order to violently control the women in their lives. In examining the connection of new surveillance technologies to violence against women, we ask the following questions: How does violence against women inform the development of new technologies? And how do new technologies inform violence against women?

Surveillance is a violent colonial practice that seeks to control populations and shape knowledge production towards colonialist ends—any reformation in the system merely rearticulates violence against gendered and racialized groups


Dubrofsky, Magnet 2015 [R. E. Associate Professor (and Affiliated Associate Professor, Departments of Humanities & Cultural Studies and Women's & Gender Studies, & Magnet, S. A. Assistant Professor in the Institute of Women’s Studies and the Department of Criminology at the University of Ottawa. She is a co-editor of The New Media of Surveillance (Eds.). (2015), Feminist Surveillance Studies. Duke University Press.//KHS]

A feminist approach to surveillance studies highlights the ways that surveillance is integral to many of our foundational structural systems, one that breed disenfranchisement, and that continue to be institutionalized. In an extension of bell hook's notion of "white supremacist patriarchy" (hooks 1997), we suggest the (clumsy, but illustrative) term "white supremacist capitalist heteropatriarchal surveillance": the use of surveillance practices and technologies to normalize and maintain whiteness, able-bodiedness, capitalism, and heterosexuality, practices integral to the foundation of the modern state. Smith's contribution to this collection reminds that while the modern bureaucratic state is often the focus of surveillance studies, the surveillance of native peoples is a key foundational strategy of colonialism: technologies of surveillance were integral to settler colonialism. Smith calls for the centering of an anticolonial feminist analysis within the field of surveillance studies, as she recounts how the violence of surveillance through organized settler colonial practices transformed First Peoples into racialized communities, thus facilitating the bureaucratically managed rape of indigenous people, making them "rapeable." State surveillance practices, which we might simply call state practices (since surveillance is so seamlessly embedded), are processses that are simultaneously about seeing and not-seing--that is, some bodies are made invisible, while others are made hypervisible (see Smith, Moore, Jiwani, and Hall, this volume). The underlying structures of domination that created the conditions for violence in communities of color-such as the incarceration of indigenous peoples in residential schools or the institutionalized rape that accompanied slavery--are made invisible, while the cycle of violence that residential schools or that slavery created in terms of ongoing violence in communities of color are hypervisibilized, surveilled, and then subject to violent state intervention. As Yasmin Jiwani notes in her essay in this volume, which looks at how the commercial Canadian media covered the Shafia murders (four Afghan women murdered by family members in Canada), when violence happens in communities of color, it is understood as ordinary and expected--people from these communities of color justifies new forms of surveillance by the state in ways that facilitate the disproportionate criminalization of communities of color. As Hall notes in her essay on body scanners in airports, whiteness is transparent--a racialization that does not require monitoring--whereas racialized bodies are opaque and therefore suspect. Similarly, Moore's contribution to this volume examines the increasing reliance on a genre of institutional photography--photographs of battered women--by police in cases involving batter, under a system of white supremacy. Moore shows that women of color (particularly dark-skinned women) are not revealed through the mechanism of photography, especially their injuries, in the same way as white women. Laura Hyun Yi Kang's piece in this volume about the history of anti-trafficking, highlights how subjecting female bodies to observation has long been a practice in the United States. She examines the surveillance of the "differentially stratified mobilities" of women accross borders, noting that the surveillance and scrutiny of women immigrating to the United States bespeaks founding imperialist racialist narratives in the United States. Focusing on trafficking in the League of Nations, Kang asserts that women were simultaneously hailed as objects and subjects of surveillance. The women were, on the one hand, seen as involved in the policing of other women, but on the other hand, at the borders of the nation where they were imagined to be trafficked, they were placed under greated surveillance which resulted in racialized sexist scrutiny. as Lisa Jean Moore and Paisley Currah (this volume) show in their analysis of the birth certificate, gender and sexuality are inextricably bound to the surveillant practices of documentation. Beginning with the binary system of gender imposed on babies born on U.S soil, each of whom must be categorized and documented as a boy or a girl, living in the modern bureaucratic state is about the policing of gendered identities. Of course, as Moore and Currah demonstrate, the practice of documenting citizens via birth certificates is not a simple recording of bodily identities, but a process of surveillance that produces gendered identities in ways that do both epistemological and ontological violence to bodies that do not fit the male-female binary. In fact, statistics (including tracking and gathering information about gender) is intimately tied to the rise of statehood, as states gain the power to govern in part by collecting knowledge about their citizenry (Bowker and Star 1999, 110). Thus, in the words of the communication theorist Armand Mattelart, "measurement, computing, and recording have been the recurrent traits of the long process of construction of the modern mode of communication, starting with the first manifestations of statistical reason" (19696, xvi). A feminist approach to surveillance studies demonstrates how the production of knowledge, when it comes to vulnerable bodies, is always already bound up with gendered and sexualized ways of seeing. The essay in part 1 make clear that surveillance practices are actually part of the founding mechanisms of many nation-states, as well as of the practices used to keep track of the citizens of these nation-states.

These practices of surveillance fetishize the white-male gaze justifying consumptive violence against bodies that do not assume the position of normal


Dubrofsky, Magnet 2015 [R. E. Associate Professor (and Affiliated Associate Professor, Departments of Humanities & Cultural Studies and Women's & Gender Studies, & Magnet, S. A. Assistant Professor in the Institute of Women’s Studies and the Department of Criminology at the University of Ottawa. She is a co-editor of The New Media of Surveillance (Eds.). (2015), Feminist Surveillance Studies. Duke University Press.//KHS]

Part of what we add to ongoing conversations about surveillance is the idea that surveillance practices do not only “dismantle or disaggregate the coherent body bit by bit” (Ericson and Haggerty 2006), but also remake the body, producing new ways of visualizing bodily identities in ways that highlight othered forms of racialized, gendered, classed, abled, and disabled bodies, as well as sexualized identities. Surveillance studies can help to show that many surveillance practices and technologies were initially refined by focusing on the state’s most vulnerable communities, bringing into sharp focus how oppression is made functional in a given context. For example, biometric technologies (which are used to identify features specific to an individual’s body) were initially tested on prisoners who could not resist their use and were only recently used in a wider range of applications, such as fingerprint scanners on phones for consumer security. In her groundbreaking book Terrorist Assemblages (2007), queer theorist Jasbir Puar examines the move within the field of surveillance studies to focus on the “data body” or informational profile. Examining new security practices, including the x-raying of Sikh turbans at airports, Puar reminds that the body is never a cage of pure information, but rather always a racialized, gendered, and sexualized being. Puar asserts that while “surveillance assemblages” tend “toward discounting and dismissing the visual and its capacity to interpellate subjects . . . this discounting is simply not politically viable given the shifts around formations of race and sex that are under way in response to a new visual category, the ‘terrorist look-alike’ or those who ‘look like terrorists’” (2007, 229). A concern in this collection is the interaction between the informational profile (a statistical profile that contains information including age, social security number, and so forth), the surveillance of gender, race, class, and sexuality, and the implications of the visual when it comes to surveillance practices and technologies. One entry point for discussing visualized displays of the body via surveillance is the rich tradition of feminist scholarship in media studies. This scholarship enables us to focus on the contingencies of the visual and how newer surveillance technologies both produce and are produced by new forms of pleasure in looking. While a camera filming an actor in a scene for a film is not conventionally understood to be an act of surveillance proper, the visual display of bodies inherent to films and other forms of visual media, and to many practices involving surveillance technologies, suggest the need to mine the valuable insights of the rich tradition of critical feminist media studies scholarship for what it has to offer the study of surveillance. Aligning surveillance studies with feminist media studies reminds of the necessity of grounding visualizing practices in a history of systemic discrimination, one helpfully theorized by feminist media scholars. Our aim is to bring this work into the conversation about surveillance and point out that issues key to surveillance studies have been of concern to critical feminist scholars for quite some time. In a culture that consistently puts women’s bodies on visual display, and where this display can have implications particular to their gendering, any analysis of a technology that has the possibility of achieving these ends needs to contend with the complicated intersection of gender and the politics of the visual. From hooks’s (1992) analysis of the hypervisibility of black female bodies, to Laura Mulvey’s (1975) foundational work on the “male gaze,” which examines how the film camera is used to invite the gaze of the audience to scrutinize female bodies, to the ways that bodies are made spectacular in racialized and gendered ways in science and medicine (Treichler, Cartwright, and Penley 1998), feminist scholarship dealing with issues related to surveillance has been around for decades. At the root of Mulvey’s work are questions about the politics of looking—about the surveillance of othered bodies—for both the looker and the object being looked at, and the implications of the pleasures derived from this process. Integral to Mulvey’s analysis are the gendered implications when the object looked at is a woman, a concern that needs to be carried over to any examination of how the surveillant gaze can make visible gendered bodies. Of course, as hooks (1992) insists, and as the work of Kang (2002) makes clear, racialized female bodies on display in visual media require particular consideration from critical scholars, something to which this volume is attentive. As Moore, Jiwani, Hall, and Dubrofsky and Wood’s essays in this volume make clear, central to much critical feminist media scholarship are questions about the contingencies of the visual display of disenfranchised bodies, a display that also often results from the use of technologies that behave in many ways like surveillance technologies. As Jiwani demonstrates in her contribution, surveillance technologies work to discipline certain bodies in particular ways, making some bodies hypervisible and others invisible, crafting regimes of intelligibility wherein what is rendered invisible is legitimized and taken for granted as an inherent part of the social fabric. Jiwani argues that visibility serves to heighten the focus on particular bodies by foregrounding their difference, and in the case of the coverage of the Shafia murders in the popular Canadian press, this logic of the visual situates Muslim bodies as beyond the purview of what it means to be and to look like a law-abiding Canadian. While some of the surveillance technologies used to put bodies on visual display may be new, many of the ideas and forms of oppression associated with and reproduced by them are not and can be seen in longer standing forms of media. As Rachel E. Dubrofsky and Megan M. Wood show in their chapter, which examines tabloid coverage of celebrity use of Twitter, Twitter enables the articulation of women as placing themselves under surveillance by “voluntarily” posting photographs. Using critical feminist media scholarship, they show how women are framed as empowered and agentic, situating them as complicit in invitations to the male gaze. While new forms of social media are imagined to produce new possibilities for feminist agency online, Dubrofsky and Wood show how age-old sexist and racist tropes persist when self-fashioning in a consumer context is configured as a form of empowerment and active invitation of the male gaze is imagined as a form of agency. Dubrofsky and Wood highlight the racialized implications of such tropes: white women are presented as agentic through the hard work (exercise and diet) they put into making their bodies ready for the male gaze; women of color are always already gaze-worthy in ways that rely on racist sexisms. We are reminded of how narratives that emphasize the possibilities of the formidable potential of x-ray vision (such as Spiderman and Batman) may serve to shape technological development, as scientists internalize these cultural messages about consumer desires and attempt to actualize them in new technologies, an issue discussed by Hall in this volume, in her essay on whole-body imaging machines that visualize people’s bodies naked under their clothes. Surveillance technologies that visualize the body reference long-standing cultural and science fictional preoccupations with x-ray eyes, in which x-ray vision is imagined in media from comic books to news representations to be a form of seeing that is all-powerful and all-revealing, and thus an exciting and powerful technological development. In a culture that sexualizes the visual display of female bodies, this type of technology can have specific implications for female bodies. For instance, attendants of the Transportation Security Administration (tsa) in the United States encourage screeners to pay particular attention when hegemonically attractive women pass through these scanners (Hall, this volume), intensifying existing forms of sexual harassment. In this way, the technologies facilitate x-ray eyes that require security personnel to stare at certain bodies while obscuring the pleasure taken in rendering these bodies visible, as well as mystifying the process by which some bodies are made hypervisible and others invisible. This is a process Magnet has elsewhere termed “surveillant scopophilia” (2011)—that is, when new technologies provide opportunities for pleasure in looking in ways connected to surveillance. How the technologies capture the body can have significant implications, as Moore (this volume) articulates in her discussion of how police photographs of battered women create images in which the battered bodies of women of color do not translate in ways that reproduce the commonsense aesthetics of what a battered woman looks like. A possible distinction between the use of surveillance technologies and images created by the entertainment industry for mass consumption is that the images and data created by the former are not necessarily or expressly used to construct consumable products for a mass audience, as is the case for the latter. However, in the most popular television genre of the last decade, reality tv, techniques that mimic surveillance practices are used to gather footage that resembles surveillance footage of real people doing real things—that is, not actors performing scripted lines— to create an entertainment product for mass consumption. The reality tv genre puts into relief a poignant concern for our project, one originally raised by feminists looking at the genre of pornography (L. Williams 1989; McClintock 1993), but which permeates media practices nowadays: how does the visual display of “real” bodies doing “real” things add a twist to a critical analysis of representation? What are the implications of saying, “But she really behaved that way. We caught it on film,” rather than “She was scripted in this way. The director instructed her to play her role in this manner”? The little existent feminist scholarship on this genre (Hasinoff 2008; Dubrofsky 2011a) is helpful in addressing these concerns, but there is simply not enough, though there is a remarkable burgeoning and thriving field of critical scholarship on racialized bodies in the reality tv genre, all of which can be fruitfully brought into conversation with the work of surveillance scholars.3 Newer media suture the subject more personally, more directly, as a producer (not just a consumer) of culture, creating what some now refer to as a “prosumer” (blurring of the lines between the consumer and producer). While newer media can enable the reproduction of historical oppressive power relations existent in “older” media, they also add important new dimensions requiring investigation and understanding. For instance, what happens when we can no longer say about an image (as we might with a representation on a reality tv show) that it was edited and shown out of context? Witness the case of Natalie Blanchard in Quebec, who lost her disability insurance benefits (for depression) because she appeared “too happy” in Facebook photographs that she posted during her sick leave (Sawchuk 2010). Much was made, in particular, of a photograph of Blanchard in a bikini, with online discussions of how good she looked in the bikini and of this somehow attesting to her (sound) mental health. How do questions of empowerment and responsibility become articulated when individuals operate the technologies that functionally surveil them and are used to obstruct their right to the privileges of citizenship, including assistance from the state, as well as to get them fired, to socially ostracize them, and so forth? What are the particular implications of this for female, racialized, queer, and disabled subjects?

Whiteness performs itself through surveillance by creating the innocent neutral western subject that must regulate expendable bodies


Hall 2015 [Rachel Department of Communication Studies at Louisiana State University. Her research interests include issues of fear and security as well as gender. . "Terror and the Female Grotesque." Feminist Surveillance Studies (2015): 127-49.

In the context of post-9/11 security cultures like those in U.S. airports, screening a passenger using high-tech surveillance technologies is one of the ways in which her difference from the animalized suspects in the war on terror in the United States is symbolically performed and reinforced. 7.1 Captured former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein undergoes medical examinations in Baghdad in this 14 December 2003 file photo (image from television). Associated Press file photo/U.S. Military via aptn. Ironically, surveillance technologies first tested on incarcerated populations are now also capable of producing distinction from incarcerated populations when used to securitize the privileged mobility of air passengers. Shoshana Amielle Magnet (2011) has demonstrated how surveillance technologies play a role in managing incarcerated populations. The unstated presumption of the United States that technology is on “our” side (of those waging war on terror) subtly exerts pressure on suspects in the security cultures of terrorism prevention to submit to screening by these technologies, and to do so in a manner demonstrating that they are also on the side of the technology and of those waging war on terror. As Jasbir Puar has argued, “Pivotal here is the notion of capacity, in other words the ability to thrive within and propagate the biopolitics of life by projecting potential as futurity, one indication of which is performed through the very submission to these technologies of surveillance that generate these data” (2007, 200). Passengers perform transparency as willing submission to the scanner machines or else they suffer the indignities of a publicly staged physical inspection of their bodies by another human being. It is these charged distinctions, between machine and human, vision and touch, which enable the citizens of the United States and other Western nations to recognize themselves as fundamentally different from and somehow more innocent than the ordinary Iraqis, Afghanis, and other non-Westerners subjected to detention, torture, and abuse (in many cases without probable cause) in the name of the war on terror. By contrast to the spectacular and ordinary enemies of the United States in the war on terror, the docile passenger-suspects moving through domestic-security cultures are presumed to be self-subduing. The air passenger need only wait to be told what to do, proceed calmly toward the machine, wait her turn, step on the footprints, raise her hands above her head, and freeze until she is told she is free to go. The passenger’s “voluntary” participation in the biopolitical project of terrorism prevention is also, then, a more or less convincing performance of whiteness, where whiteness is conceptualized not in an essentialized biological sense but as a “racialized technology of power,” as Jiwani (this volume) puts it. Other feminists have forcefully articulated the racial dimension of biopolitics. Citing Rey Chow’s assertion that biopolitics is implicitly about the ascendancy of whiteness, Puar writes, “The terms of whiteness cannot remain solely in the realm of racial identification or phenotype but extend out to the capacity for capacity: that is, the capacity to give life, sustain life, promote life—the registers of fertility, health, environmental sustainability, and the capacity to risk” (2007, 200). In the context of post-9/11 security cultures of terrorism prevention, the capacity to risk and to have one’s risky ventures securitized is a marker of whiteness in this broader sense. I name this racialized, securitized capacity to risk “transparency chic.” An index of the First World traveler’s “privileged paranoia,” or her desire to reap the rewards of mobility while avoiding the risks, transparency chic takes the form of a willingness to open the live body, its accoutrements and possessions, as well as its digital double, to routine inspection and analysis.3 Transparency chic also works the other way: the passenger’s performance of voluntary transparency lends the surveillance technologies in question an air of transparency. The passenger’s public performance of submitting to these machines supports the notion that airport security screening is an innocent, impersonal, and objective process. Security officials borrow the myths of nonintervention and total transparency used to support no-touch security solutions from the visual culture of medicine. José Van Dijk identifies the assumptions underlying these rationales: “The myth of total transparency generally rests on two underlying assumptions: the idea that seeing is curing and the idea that peering into the body is an innocent activity, which has no consequences” (2005, 7–8). Despite insistence by the U.S. Transportation Security Administration (tsa) that visual technologies for scanning the body render human contact between tsa screeners and passengers unnecessary, these technologies serve a hybrid method of surveillance, which combines vision with touch. As Lisa Parks first observed, technological mediation serves as a precursor to and justification for human contact in the case of haptic vision: “What distinguishes close sensing from other forms of surveillance is the authority the state has granted to supplement vision with touch” (2007, 190). Parks notes that tsa guidelines stipulate that human screeners must scan any body or belonging by machine before they handle it (ibid.). Touch is thus defined as human-to-human contact and does not include human-to-machine contact. The threat of physical search rationalizes each new technological solution and energizes passenger performances of voluntary transparency staged as encounters between humans and machines.
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