State solutions are insufficient and rather recreate hierarchies where bias statistics are assumed to be objective—these universalized conceptions of humanity creates violent quests for racial purity
Kang 2015 [Laura Hyun Yi Kang Chair & Associate Professor, Gender and Sexuality Studies School of Humanities Associate Professor, Comparative Literature School of Humanities Associate Professor, English School of Humanities Ph.D., UC Santa Cruz, History of Consciousness; "Surveillance and the Work of Antitrafficking." Feminist Surveillance Studies (2015): 39-57.//KHS]
The exercise of the League’s “political will and determination”was further complicatedby the unknowable contours of the purported problem. Trafficking is difficult to espy, document, and control. The two reports and the archives of the League of Nations Official Journal repeatedly demonstrate a fissure between convincing demonstrations of diligent surveillance and acknowledgment of the impossibility of a thorough monitoring and documentation of the phenomenon. Since the League, and especially its Social Section which included the Advisory Committee on the Traffic of Women and Children, lacked the financial resources and administrative structure to gather specific details about local and national conditions, it was still largely dependent on official government communiqués and “field reports” submitted by voluntary associations such as the ib. There was the possibility for underreporting the extent and severity of the conditions by state authorities. Pointing to how several of the countries represented on the advisory committee, including France, Italy, and Japan, did not move toward abolition in practice, Jessica Pliley goes so far as to assert “that many governments wanted to appear [to be] actively addressing the problem of trafficking without having to take any meaningful action” (2010, 105–6). Further complicating questions of objectivity and accountability, Great Britain, France, Portugal, Japan, the Netherlands, and the United States submitted replies and reports on behalf of their colonies, overseas possessions, protectorates, or territories.3 As well, in the first decades of the twentieth century, many nations were in the active and contested process of state-building, making it difficult to attribute such reports to a single, organized bureaucratic agency.In her study of prostitution in Shanghai in the early twentieth century, Gail Hershatter points out that “no systematic statistics were collected” and further questions the record-keeping practices of the state: “Counting, like classifying and regulating, is not a neutral activity. The creation of statistics, in Shanghai as elsewhere, was part of a state-building process, an intrusive aspect of the project of modernity, often resisted by the people it sought to incorporate. Numbers that give the impression of precision were collected by an inconsistent group for changing reasons from a population that had every reason to lie” (1997, 38). There was also some skepticism about the “field reports” of voluntary organizations, a tendency to dismiss them as exaggerated and sensationalistic. On 21 March 1923, Grace Abbott, an advisory-committee representative from the United States, submitted a memorandum recommending a new international enquiry sponsored by the League. Its scope would be ambitiously broad and multidimensional. Geographically the investigation should include, if possible, the principal cities of the world, but, if this is not possible, typical cities should be selected from which there is reason to believe the traffic is or is not being carried on, those in which regulated houses and those in which abolition is the policy, those situated in countries in which prostitutes and all those who live or benefit by prostitution are excluded from admission, and those whose laws regulating immigration make no or inadequate provisions for immoral persons. (League of Nations 1927, 50) Note how three different kinds of cities were delineated according to state regulations regarding prostitution and immigration restriction, suggesting that an assessment of the efficacy of state regulation itself was at stake. The rubric of “traffic in women” thus enabled a more far-reaching and probing investigation into a broad range of national laws and enforcement mechanisms. Abbott went on to call for the need for an on-theground investigation to supplement the limits of the information provided by governments and voluntary associations. From official sources, the facts as to the administration of laws designed to eliminate the traffic can be learned. To secure the information as to the traffic itself, it will be necessary to send to the cities included in the survey, agents of high standing with special training and experience to make personal and unofficial investigations. It is recognised that such investigations are difficult, not to say dangerous; but they are absolutely necessary to secure the facts to refute sensational exaggerations or general denials as to the traffic and—what would seem to be for the Committee of supreme importance—an intelligent basis for a sound programme for international co-operation for the suppression of the traffic, if it is found to exist. (Ibid.) Having earned a master’s degree in political science from the University of Chicago and worked with Jane Adams at Hull House, Abbott was a prominent member of a new generation of social workers who “crafted their professional identities and asserted their expertise by embracing scientific practice methods, with an emphasis on investigation, detailed case records, scientific nomenclature, and social diagnosis” (Kennedy 2008, 28). Before serving as the director of the Immigrant’s Protective League and being appointed as the first chief of the U.S. Children’s Bureau, Abbott had published numerous articles, in such venues as the American Journal of Sociology, on a range of issues, including immigrant labor, social welfare, child labor, and juvenile delinquency. Thus, her important role in proposing these investigations demonstrate the early twentieth-century commingling and cooperation of the state, the university, and private philanthropy in the work of surveillance over certain women’s bodies. In addition to Abbott’s instigation, the leading position of U.S. actors in overseeing and funding this investigation merits closer scrutiny, especially given that the United States was not a formal member of the League of Nations. As proof and as a model of the efficaciousness of the investigation, Abbott invoked in the memorandum a U.S. Senate inquiry on the “Importation and Harbouring of Women for Immoral Purposes” in 1908–1909, which found that women and girls from Europe and also from Asia were brought to the United States. She stated that “the authorities charged with the enforcement of American law as well as private organisations in the United States interested in the abolition of prostitution will, I am sure, be glad to give all possible assistance” (League of Nations 1927, 50). As appreciatively acknowledged in the introduction to the 1927 Report, both multinational investigations were made possible by donations from the American Bureau of Social Hygiene, which provided $75,000 and then $125,000, respectively, to the two inquiries. The Bureau of Social Hygiene (bsh) was established in 1913 by John D. Rockefeller Jr. and fellow “social purity” reformers as a private philanthropic organization devoted to investigating and combating prostitution. Rockefeller had previously served as the chair of a special grand jury commissioned by the County of New York, in 1910, to investigate the “organized traffic in women for immoral purposes.” Subsequently, he envisioned that “this permanent organization, small and operating in relative secrecy, would have some power to effect a solution to the social evil that a more open democratic process would not have” (Gunn 1999, 104). In contrast to the moralism and sensationalism of the earlier purity crusades against the “white slave traffic,” the bsh sought to achieve “instrumental reform that was efficient, scientific, elitist” by engaging trained experts to study social problems such as prostitution and venereal disease (Brandt 1987, 39). Before providing financial support for the League’s inquiries into the traffic in women, the bsh funded investigations into prostitution in the United States and Europe and published the findings (Kneeland 1913; Flexner 1914; Woolston, 1921). The bsh also financed social programs, such as the Laboratory of Social Hygiene in Bedford Hills: “Women sentenced to this reformatory underwent a battery of physical and psychological tests aimed at isolating factors which contributed to prostitution” (Brandt 1987, 39). Thus, the emerging methods of the social sciences came to supplement and legitimate rather than supplant older private and public modes of discipline and punishment. The bsh also funded the American Social Hygiene Association (asha), which merged two older organizations, the American Federation for Sex Hygiene and the American Vigilance Association, and focused on combating venereal disease through sex education. The asha was led by William F. Snow, a professor and public-health expert, and included Jane Addams, a close mentor to Abbott. The asha applied what it considered “forward-looking scientific approaches” and private investigators to uncover and document pressing social problems such as prostitution (Knepper 2012, 7). Snow also served as chairman of the League of Nation’s Special Body of Experts on the Traffic in Women and Children from 1924 to 1928. He, in turn, was responsible for the appointment of Bascom Johnson, who had served as head of the legal affairs at asha and as the director of investigations of the two enquiries. During the First World War, both Snow and Johnson successfully worked with the U.S. Army Commission on Training Camp Activities to control the epidemic of venereal diseases by closing down or moving red-light districts that were near military encampments.4 Their efforts were related to a nationwide wave of vice commissions in the 1910s, whose investigations led to more repressive laws and policies against women suspected of engaging in prostitution: “Many states established reformatories for women . . . and required medical examinations for venereal diseases prior to marriage” (Lubove 1962, 328). Snow had also served as the vice president of the American Eugenics Society. Eugenicist ideologies of “racial preservation” through forced sterilization and immigration restriction were expressed in the asha’s Journal of Social Hygiene. One article begins, “For any country at any given stage of advancement of its arts, and of exhaustion of its resources, there is an optimum number of inhabitants up to which the country can continue to increase its population without producing an undue pressure upon subsistence. . . . A well-ordered community will strive to reach this adjustment. It may do so by encouraging or discouraging emigration, or by raising or lowering the birth-rate” (R. H. Johnson 1919, 223). Another article, titled “Eugenical Sterilization in the United States,” argues that “the relation between the inheritable qualities of our immigrants and the destiny of the American nation is very close. . . . Thus, if the American nation desires to upbuild or even to maintain its standard of natural qualities, it must forbid the addition through immigration to our human breeding-stock of persons of a lower natural hereditary constitution than that which constitutes the desired standard” (Laughlin 1920, 530–31). The significance of monitoring immigration was prominent in the expanded “Questionnaire issued by the special body of experts on the traffic in women and children” on 3 April 1924, which was printed as annex 2 of the 1927 Report. In addition to requesting government statistics on the “number, age, nationality and length of residence of foreign women who are known to be regularly engaged in prostitution, either in licensed houses or elsewhere,” the lengthy, multipart question 5 asks for “any available statistics regarding immigration and emigration for the years 1919–1923,” including the “total number of male and female immigrants classified according to nationality,” and it specifies “foreign women who have been admitted in the last five years . . . classified according to agegroup (under 18, 18–21, 21–30, and over 30), and according to occupations” (League of Nations 1927, 196). The determining influence of this distinctly U.S. preoccupation with prostitution, immigration, and racial purity in shaping the 1927 enquiry was largely eclipsed by highlighting the incontrovertible rigor of direct observation of “facts” by trained experts. The inclusion of professional women such as Alma Sundquist of Sweden, a physician who served on the three-member traveling commission, further provided an aura of legitimacy. Even as the authors of the 1927 Report ceremoniously acknowledged “the most cordial response” from all the countries that were investigated, “with the result that the representatives of the Body of Experts were given every facility on carrying out their work and received the active help of officials and other persons concerned” (League of Nations 1927, 5), the authenticity and reliability of these independent “expert” observations were repeatedly upheld. Pointing to how Bascom Johnson’s “legal training and long experience of social studies proved invaluable,” the authors added that the commission was “assisted by a group of highly qualified Surveillance and Antitrafficking investigators” (ibid.). The undercover methods used had been refined in the earlier anti-vice campaigns in the United States. Of the mostly U.S. male field operatives Johnson employed, Paul Kinsie, who directed the asha’s undercover research program, played an especially key role. In his assessment of Kinsie’s field reports filed in the asha archives, Knepper concludes that “it is clear that he was an excellent ethnographer. . . . Kinsie focused on activities and relationships that comprised the White slave trade, such as tricks for evading surveillance at the border” (2012, 13). In an article relaying a detailed account of how the enquiry came into being, Dame Rachel Crowdy, the head of the Social Section of the League, was particularly laudatory about how the expert commission was “lucky enough to get hold of eight or ten very courageous and very resourceful men and women, and for the last three years those people have been working as part of the underworld” (1927, 157). The League reports conferred both expert confirmation and empirical validation on the traffic in women as a real and actionable international phenomenon.5
Surveillance policies and reforms are not passive acts, rather they are situated within a history of racialized and gendered violence that has spearheaded the rise of the prison industrial complex by allowing the government to track ‘suspect’ populations
Mason & Magnet 12 [Corinne Lysandra, and Shoshana Magnet. "Surveillance studies and violence against women."surveillance & society10, no. 2 (2012): 105-118.]
While individual privacyconcerns mount, the prison system has found new surveillance technologies advantageous. In fact, the development of new technologies in North America historicallyhas been due to, as well as has benefited, the prison industrial complex.From fingerprinting to bertillonage (Cole 2001), photography (Lalvani 1996) and biometrics (Murray 2007; Gates 2011; Pugliese 2005; Magnet and Dubrofsky, under contract), the organization of information on criminalized individuals through complex data control systems have critically shaped police surveillance practices historically (Magnet and Gates 2009: 5; Laudon 1986). More recently, the inclusion of social media tools such as Facebook and MySpace are increasingly incorporated into police surveillance practices. Police now ask the public to upload photos and videos taken with personal cameras, smartphones and cellular phones and then use these documents to arrest citizens. One example is found in the case of the Stanley Cup looting in Vancouver, British Columbia in 2011. Following the riot, videos and photos taken by ordinary citizens on their cell phones were used to make arrests (CBC 2011). Videos uploaded onto YouTube have also been used by the police to arrest individuals who have taken part in criminalized activities (Telegraph 2009). Of course, the development of these new surveillance technologies––many of which were refined in the prison system and then expanded for use on non-criminalized consumers (Cole 2001; Magnet and Dubrofsky, under contract) must be grounded in the expansion in the prison industrial complex (Sudbury 2005). The increase in the U.S. prison system is well documented (Davis 1981; David and James 1998; Davis 2003, 2005; Garland 2001a, 2001b; Sudbury 2005; Gilmore 2007). 2 Including the transformation of rehabilitation programmes to punishment in the 1970s (Gilmore 2007) and additionally resulting from 3 strikes laws, truth in sentencing initiatives, the war on drugs (Cole 2007, Roberts 2001), and the criminalization of immigration (‘crimmigration’), the swelling of prison populations is a shocking example of the warehousing of the poor. Prison populations have grown from 200,000 in the late 1960s to more than 2 million (Davis 2003). As many have argued, the prison industrial complex is an engine of inequality through the disproportionate incarceration of both poor people and people of colour (Cole 2001; Smith 2008; Davis 2003; Razack 2002). Prison abolitionist Julia Sudbury reminds us that, in the United States, 1 million African Americans are behind bars (Sudbury 2004). When one looks to the war on drugs, despite the fact that studies find little difference between drug use in people of colour and white people (Webb 2009), over two thirds of those in prison or jail for drugs are people of colour (Cole 2007). Nor can we disregard gender in theorizing inequality in the prison system. In keeping with worldwide trends in which poor racialized women and women with mental health disabilities are the fastest growing groups to be incarcerated (CAEFS 2004), in the U.S., African American women are now the fastest growing prison population, having outpaced African American men (Davis 2003). 3 The incarceration of poor women must be placed alongside the dismantling of the welfare state. The elimination of welfare programmes like Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC)causes women to seek out criminalized forms of employment so that they can afford food and housing. Particularly relevant for this article is the ways in which sexual, emotional, and physical violence also propel women into the prison system (CAEFS 2004). As women flee abusive situations, the lack of a social safety net means they may turn to criminalized behaviour such as sex work and the drug trade in order to meet their most basic subsistence needs (Sudbury 2005; Davis 2003). Queer people fleeing homophobic abuse and harassment in their homes, schools, and workplaces render LGBTQ folks vulnerable to the prison industrial complex. As Beth Richie’s study of young, black lesbians shows, the relationship between homophobia and sexual harassment places queer women at increased risk of violence (2005), and violence is a well-known factor that leads to women’s engagement in activities deemed illegal by the state. 4 Surveillance technologies are both produced by as well as part of the expansion of the prison industrial complex. New surveillance features including the time and date stamps we described above can be used to make arrests. Technology producers and marketers assert that surveillance features like those found on the iPhone are important security measures. If they reference violence against women at all, companies selling these products argue that these surveillance features will help institutions like the police to catch perpetrators of violent crimes. For example, according to iPhone hacker and data-forensics expert Jonathan Zdziarski, the iPhone’s ability to take a screen snapshot and save it is a personal privacy ‘flaw’. However, he and others argue that this in fact can become useful to the prison system since users cannot permanently delete information, and, as a result, storage forensics experts have used the ‘flaw to gather evidence against criminals convicted of rape, murder or drug deals’ (Chen 2008). In this way, although mainstream media represent surveillance technologies as carrying risks for consumers, they are simultaneously represented as necessary evils. For example, in the popular crime show Criminal Minds, the dangers of surveillance to individual privacy are referenced, but the overall message remains that these technologies help to keep us safer. In a two-part episode entitled ‘The Big Game’ and ‘Revelations’ (2007), a techie-turned-murderer accesses computers remotely to fix issues such as sound control, but then maintains access to internal webcams after the service is completed using a Trojan horse virus. Watching women in particular, the murderer observes his victims through the webcam and then allows the videos of his murders to ‘go viral’. While the surveillance of victims is depicted as a breach of their privacy, it is the videos captured through webcams that lead the FBI to the murderer’s capture and arrest. This fictional show parallels a case in Toronto, Canada in which a young woman attending York University was killed while her boyfriend in China watched part of the women’s struggle with her assaulter via a webcam (Sympatico News 2011). In online commentary on Sympatico News, a user claimed that this was ‘life imitating art’ since an episode of crime show CSI: New York followed a similar story line. The police began their investigation by attempting to uncover the streamed video and ultimately charged a York University student with her murder (Rush 2011). Of course, these technologiesdid not help to save this young woman’s life. Nor did they help to address the ongoing systemic issue of violence against women. Instead, they became the vehicle by which the police could assert that violence on campus had been addressed since this one ‘bad apple’ violent student was caught. The approach to perpetrators of violence as ‘bad apples’ is a familiar strategy: one that helps to distract attention from solutions aimed at addressing the systemic nature of violence as well as its gendered and racialized nature. 5 In suggesting that these new technologies saved the day by helping to catch one perpetrator, the media offers limited critiques of new surveillance technologies while simultaneously ‘naturalizing their expansion’ (Magnet and Gates 2009: 7). That is, in popular TV shows and news media, surveillance technologies are understood as producing privacy breaches that are justified as a result of their helpfulness in police investigations. This is well captured in the commentary of forensics expert Jonathan Zdziarski. Arguing that these technologies do produce ‘significant privacy leak[s]’, he asserts that they remain important tools since ‘at the same time [they’ve] been useful for investigating criminals’ (Chen 2008). For feminist surveillance studies scholars, surveillance technologies pose more complex questions than ‘are they good or bad?’We argue that the relationship of surveillance technologies to their social context and the ways that technologies reproduce and exacerbate social inequalities must be examined. In particular, while surveillance technologies may be useful to police enforcement, more policing practices results in the strengthening of a prison system that continues to overincarcerate women who are victims of violence––and particularly targets women of colour, women with disabilities and queer women for incarceration. Given the role of the prison system as an engine of inequality, we must call into question the assertion that improving intensifying existing connection between anti-violence movements, surveillance technologies, and the police is necessarily positive. Rather, we must ask: what is the impact of deepening connections between anti-violence advocacy, new technologies of surveillance and the prison industrial complex? Connections between anti-violence movements and the prison system have historically been and remain deeply problematic. For anti-violence advocates, the ‘criminalization of violence against women’ has impacted individual safety tactics and community organizing. According to the INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence collective (2006), the movement from grassroots organizing to ‘professional’ shelters has meant that the mainstream anti-violence movement is reluctant to challenge institutionalized violence (Smith et al. 2006: 1). The move to government funding regimes in the U.S. and Canada are coupled to an increased reliance on the prison system. According to Smith et al. (2006), the anti-violence movement is ‘working with the state, instead of against state violence’ (1). The criminal justice system often simply brings many survivors of violence into conflict with the law (INCITE! 2006). In addition to those noted above, mandatory arrest laws in the U.S. and Canada have meant that women who call police for protection are often also arrested. A New York-based study complied in 2001 found that a majority (66 per cent) of domestic violence survivors who were arrested alongside their abuser, or arrested as a result of a complaint lodged by their abuser, were African American or Latina/o, 43 per cent were living below the poverty line and 19 per cent were receiving public assistance. Lesbian survivors are also frequently arrested alongside their abuser since law enforcement officers frame violence within same-sex relationships as ‘mutual combat’(Ritchie 2006: 140). Individuals perceived to be transgressing gender norms are often subject to excessive force upon arrest (Ritchie 2006: 143). Furthermore, undocumented women who have reported violence have often found themselves deported (Ritchie 2006: 151). To be sure, Canadian women’s shelters have been raided by the Canadian Border Services Agency in order to deport ‘illegal’ immigrants (No One Is Illegal 2011). Given the complex relationship of women of colour, indigenous women, poor women, queer folks, immigrants, sex workers and other women vulnerable to being criminalized by the justice system, the assumption that surveillance measures can provide protection to VAW victims is problematic. In particular, surveillance technologies that deepen existing links to the prison industrial complex pose problems for victims and anti-violence advocates. While anti-violence advocates may see potential in surveillance technologies such as home security and surveillance systems, reliance on the criminal justice system for both funding and protection can impact their utility for survivors of violence. According to Römkens’ (2006) research on a surveillance project entitled AWARE (Abused Women’s Active Response Emergency) implemented in the Netherlands, U.S. and Canada, the reliance on the criminal justice system can adversely affect its usefulness for victims. For example, the AWARE programme aims to protect and support victims of stalking, as well as restrain perpetrators through arrest using electronic safety technologies. If an abuser threatens an individual, the victim can set off an alarm by pushing a button in the house or on a pendant that the victim wears. By pushing the button, the police are immediately notified and sent to the house. However, a victim only met the criteria for the programme if she had previously asked the police for help (for example, by obtaining a protection order) or if she was willing to press charges (Römkens 2006: 116). Given the reliance on the criminalization of abusers to enter the programme, it is clear that the AWARE programme is geared towards meeting the needs of the police rather than solely preoccupied with women’s safety. Pro-arrest policies and mandatory arrest laws beginning in the 1980s in the U.S. clearly demonstrate that the prison system can often undermine women’s autonomy and actively disempowers them from choosing a trajectory for justice based on their own interests and wishes (Römkens 2006: 166). In her case study on AWARE in the Netherlands, Römkens found that women were reluctant to use the alarm, especially when it was an ex-partner that they would be involving in the criminal justice system. The women she interviewed suggested that they could not control the amount of punishment that police would inflict on their abuser. For one woman, the fact that one had to make a swift decision to press the button when an abuser appeared proved to be very difficult (174-75). Moreover, many women were afraid to press the button due to fear that the police would not take them seriously if their abuser was ‘just there’ and was not ‘doing anything’ (175). In the Dutch study, and a pilot study in Brooklyn, New York, Römkens found that victims avoided the direct use of surveillance systems in order to avoid a ‘criminal justice outcome’ (178). Althoughsurveillance technologies may have the potential to provide safety for victims of violence, a complicated relationship between VAW and surveillance arises when technologies of protection are directly linked into the prison system. While mainstream anti-violence advocates continue to rely on government funding and state-based responses to violence, alternative tactics around ending violence must consider the ways that particular bodies are already entangled in systems of surveillance.
Reforms in surveillance practices are founded on the governments need to police deviant identities who do not fit into the norm—this leads to increased focus on minority’s, transgender, and queer bodies
Moore & Currah 2015 [Lisa Jean Moore Professor of Sociology and Gender Studies at the State University of New York, Purchase College. She was born in New York State, received a BA from Tufts University, a Masters of Public Health from the University of California, Berkeley and a PhD from the University of California, and Paisley Currah is Professor of Political Science at Brooklyn College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. "Legally Sexed." Feminist Surveillance Studies (2015): 58-76. Print.
Every day it is apparent how surveillance—the tacit or obvious collection and processing of data about human bodies—has grown in intensity and precision. Electronic monitors of speed recorded through algorithms on the New Jersey Turnpike, targeted marketing through the sidebars on social-media sites, and the ubiquitous security cameras trained on our every move track and aggregate our embodied movements through space and time. As the sociologist David Lyon has written, from modernity onward “the body achieved new prominence as a site of surveillance. Bodies could be rationally ordered through classification in order to socialize them within the emerging nation-state. Bodies were distrusted as sensual, irrational, and thus in need of taming, subject to disciplinary shaping toward new purposes” (2001a, 292). We argue that surveillance is not universally and uniformly applied to all human bodies and, furthermore, that monitoring occurs with different degrees of specificity and intention depending on the presumed coherence of gender and sex (see also Casper and Moore 2009). Both scholars and transgender-rights advocates have pointed to the many contradictions in state-formulated constructions of gender. Advocates highlight these contradictions to persuade state agencies to adopt more consistent or uniform standards. However, among advocates, there is disagreement about what those gender standards should be. Some argue that self-avowed gender identity should be the only standard in state recognition of gender or sex (International Bill of Gender Rights 1990; The Yogyakarta Principles 2007). Others promote standards in which professionals make the determination based on particular medicalized metrics. Still others argue that since the gender binary reflects hegemonic and increasingly outmoded gendered social and legal structures, rather than any fundamental truths of bodies and identities, gender should not be an element of any official identifying document (Vade 2005). Some scholars, on the other hand, use the contradictions around state recognition of the legal sex of transgender people to demonstrate the radical instability of gender (Butler 1993). Regardless of the contradictions, surveillance apparatuses, such as the birth certificate, are indispensable to our ability to function as sexed and gendered individuals. It is taken for granted that one needs identity documents in order to move through the world. As Craig Robertson points out, “In our contemporary world, there is a general acceptance that identity can be documented, that someone can be known and recognized through a document” (2010, 250). Robertson’s work traces the American passport from its birth and through its hundred-year history, and identifies the ways that connecting an individual human body with a piece of state-sanctioned paper transformed regimes of surveillance. Our work builds on that of Robertson through the examination of the birth certificate. In a departure from much scholarship on identity documents, we argue that gender can never be disentangled from surveillance. In this essay we make a feminist intervention by examining shifts in the legal, medical, and commonsense logics governing the designation of sex on birth certificates issued by the City of New York between 1965 and 2006.1 We explore the different narratives at work during two moments when transgender-rights advocates, medical authorities, and government officials came together to negotiate legal definitions of sex. Using participant observation, ethnography, in-depth interviews, and content analysis, we examine the negotiation of gender in the process of trying to obtain state-issued identity documents. Paisley Currah, coauthor of this essay, served as an “expert advocate” on the Transgender Law and Policy Institute on the Transgender Advisory Committee (tac), which met four times between February and April 2012.2 Data for this essay were collected from Currah’s fieldnotes on earlier meetings and the official committee meetings, from official meeting minutes of the tac, from Currah’s autoethnographic account, and from his records on advocacy on this issue in New York City between February 2002 and December 2006. As well, we drew from legal documents, archival research, and interviews with other advocates: Dean Spade, a lawyer with the Sylvia Rivera Law Project; Chris Daley, executive director of the Transgender Law Center; and Mara Keisling, Executive Director of the National Center for Transgender Equality. Before 9/11, transgender people whose gender identity differed from their legal sex at birth found themselves in a paradoxical situation whereby, for instance, a person’s legal sex might change simply by crossing a state line, or one’s sex designation on a driver’s license might differ from that on file with the Social Security Administration (Currah forthcoming; Greenberg 1999). The modern regulatory project of sex classification has been in crisis for decades, caused by increasing divergence between individual gender definition (or identity) and legal sex designation. Post-9/11 the norms for identity documents have been regulated more stringently. Consequently, mismatching identity documents create significant difficulties for transpeople because systems of surveillance are triggered by mismatching documents. In this era of heightened scrutiny of individuals’ bodies and histories, transgender people find themselves under increased surveillance (Currah and Mulqueen 2011). As with other subaltern groups positioned as not members of the imagined normative majority—undocumented workers, immigrants, “aliens” (non-U.S. citizens), and other “suspicious persons”—transgender people are constantly forced to account for themselves by documenting belonging (S. Ahmed 2000) via identity documents and often also via legitimating letters from their physicians (National Center for Transgender Equality 2004).
The state won’t solve sexual violence—calls to use the state maintains imperialism by controlling the way in which to speak about violence against women
Smith 2015 [Andrea an intellectual, feminist, and anti-violence activist. Smith's work focuses on issues of violence against women of color and their communities, specifically Native American women. A co-founder of INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence, the Boarding School Healing Project, and the Chicago chapter of Women of All Red Nations, Smith centers the experiences of women of color in both her activism and her scholarship. Formerly an assistant professor of American Culture and Women's Studies at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Smith is currently an associate professor in the Department of Media and Cultural Studies at the University of California, Riverside.. "Not-Seeing." Feminist Surveillance Studies (2015): 21-38..//KHS]
Similarly, many native activists who organize around sexual violence in native communities frame their activist work from a decolonization perspective, yet the solutions that emerge from that work usually result in increased federal intervention in native communities, such as the recent Tribal Law and Order Act that was passed in the wake of Amnesty International’s report on sexual assault in Indian country, Maze of Injustice (K. Robertson 2012). Of course, native activists who engage in such policy work are not ignorant of the risks of advocating for changes in federal policies (Smith 2005b). They are aware of the contradiction of trying to further the long-term project of decolonization while attempting to secure some measure of safety for survivors of violence in the short term.They constantly struggle with the question of whether relying on state surveillance even as a short-term solution to violence diminishes the possibilities of developing alternative strategies which refuse settler colonial logics in the long term. It is important to note that the apparatus of settler colonial surveillance does not impact only native peoples. The “normalizing” society must necessarily inflict the logics of normalization on all peoples, not just on those who are “oppressed.” If it were only the oppressed who were subjected to normalizing logics, the logics would not seem “normal.” This is why the intent of genocide is not just to destroy native peoples, but to eliminate alternatives to the settler state for nonnative peoples. If alternatives to the white supremacist, capitalist, heteropatriarchal settler state were to persist, the settler state’s status as the prototype for normal would be at risk. Settler logics inform both how violence against native women is addressed, as well as how gender violence in general is addressed. Furthermore, the mainstream antiviolence movement relies on a settler framework for combating violence in ways that make it complicit in the state’s surveillance strategies.These strategies then inform how the mainstream movement manages and “sees” gender violence, while simultaneously preventing it from seeing other approaches to ending violence. For example, at an antiviolence conference I attended, the participants supported the war in Afghanistan because they believed it would liberate women from the violence of the Taliban; their reliance on statedriven surveillance strategies for addressing violence through the military and criminal-justice systems prevented them from seeing that militarism itself perpetuates violence against women. One of the reasons for the antiviolence movement’s investment in the state derives from its concerns with the private sphere. As Lyon notes, much of the focus of surveillance studies is on “privacy”—how the state monitors the individual lives of peoples.3 Of course, as feminist scholars argue, the assumption that the protection of privacy is an unmediated good is problematic, since the private sphere is where women are generally subjected to violence.4 And, as feminists of color in particular have noted, not all women are equally entitled to privacy. Saidiya Hartman points out that, on the one hand, the abuse and enslavement of African Americans was often marked as taking place in the private sphere and hence beyond the reach of the state to correct. And yet, paradoxically, the private space of black families was seen as an extension of the workplace and hence subject to police power (Hartman 1997, 160, 173). Anannya Bhattacharjee similarly recounts an incident in which a domestic worker complained to her social-justice organization that she was being abused by her white employer.5 When Bhattacharjee on behalf of the organization contacted the police to report the incident, she was told that “if her organization tried to intervene by rescuing this person, that would be trespassing: In this case, the privacy of these wealthy employers’ home was held to be inviolate, while the plight of an immigrant worker being held in a condition of involuntary servitude was not serious enough to merit police action. . . . The supposed privacy and sanctity of the home is a relative concept, whose application is heavily conditioned by racial and economic status” (Bhattacharjee 2000, 29). As Patricia Allard notes, women of color who receive public assistance are not generally deemed worthy of privacy—they are subjected to the constant surveillance of the state. Of course, all women seeking public services can be surveilled, but welfare is generally racialized in the public imaginary through the figure of the “welfare queen.” Andrea Ritchie (2006), Anannya Bhattacharjee (2001), and other scholars document how women of color, particularly those who are non-gender conforming, who seek police intervention in cases of domestic violence often find themselves subject to sexual assault, murder, and other forms of police-inflicted brutality. If the private sphere is not a place of safety and refuge, what then becomes the source of protection from violence in the home?The antiviolence movement has generally relied on the state. As a result,there is often a disconnect between racial-justice and gender-justice groups. Racial-justice groups focus on the state as an agent of violence from which they need protection. Largely white antiviolence groups, and for that matter, many women-of-color groups, have seen the state as the solution to addressing intercommunal gender violence (Richie 1996). As Bhattacharjee (2000) notes, this has put antiviolence groups in the problematic position of marching against police brutality while simultaneously calling on the police to solve the problem of sexual/domestic violence as if it were two different institutions. As one example, I attended a meeting of tribally based antiviolence advocates who were discussing the need to address gender violence from the perspective of tribal sovereignty, and when the time came to develop actual strategies for addressing violence, the response was to call for more fbi agents on the reservation. Gender violence thus stands as the exception to the rule of opposing state surveillance. In this setup, the state becomes the solution to violence, so antiviolence programs must adopt the surveillance strategies of the state when they provide services. For instance, many domestic violence shelters screen out women who are not documented, who have criminal histories, who are sex workers, or who have substance-abuse issues. One advocate told me that her program did background searches on potential clients and had them arrested if they had any outstanding warrants!6 This, despite the fact that these women have warrants out for their abusers and are trying to escape abusers who have forced them into criminal activity. Moreover, shelters are often run like prisons. As Emi Koyama brilliantly notes, women in shelters are constantly surveilled to make sure they conform to the behavior deemed fitting by the shelter staff. Koyama describes her experience in a shelter. I am a survivor of domestic violence. I am someone who has stayed in a shelter, back in 1994. My experience there was horrendous; I constantly felt the policing gaze of shelter workers across the half-open door, and feared “warnings” and punishments that seemed to be issued arbitrarily. No, to describe the practice as “arbitrary” would be inaccurate; it was clearly selective in terms of who gets them most frequently: the poor Black and Latina women with children, especially if they are in “recovery” from alcohol or drug “abuse.” Snitching on other residents was actively encouraged: residents were rewarded for reporting rule violations of other residents and their children, even when the allegations were not exactly accurate. I did not know whom to trust. Eventually, the feeling of constant siege by shelter staff and all the “crazymaking” interactions pushed me over the edge, and I cut myself with a knife. Not surprisingly, they put me in a mental hospital, effectively ending my stay at the shelter before I could find a permanent, safer space to live. Eventually, Koyama became involved in the antiviolence movement, where she worked for a shelter and found herself, against her politics, sometimes engaging in the same policing activities. When a woman who spoke Arabic called the shelter asking for services, Koyama’s supervisor told her to tell the survivor that she needed to find another shelter. Koyama complied. This episode marked my last day working at the domestic violence shelter, which is more than two years ago now, but I continue to ache from this experience. Of course, this was not the first time that I questioned how shelters were being ran. I questioned everything: its “clean and sober” policy regarding substance use, its policy against allowing women to monitor their own medications, its use of threats and intimidations to control survivors, its labeling of ordinary disagreements or legitimate complaints as “disrespectful communication,” its patronizing “life skills” and “parenting” classes, its seemingly random enforcement of rules that somehow always push women of color out of the shelter first. I hated just about everything that went on in a shelter, and I refused to participate in most of these. I never issued formal “warnings” against any of the residents, preferring instead to have dialogs about any problems as casually as possible. I pretended that I did not smell the alcohol in the women’s brea\\\ths so long as their behaviors did not cause any problems for other residents. I never ever walked a woman to the bathroom and watched her as she peed into a little cup for drug tests, as the shelter policy expected of me to do. I did everything I could to sabotage the system I viewed as abusive: I was disloyal. But in many other situations, I failed. To this day, I ask myself why I did not simply ignore my supervisor’s order on that day, let the woman come to the shelter and deal with the consequences later. (Koyama 2006, 215) Essentially, shelter staff take on the role of abusers or prison guards in the lives of survivors. Women-of-color advocates are in the difficult position of trying to dismantle the structures of settler colonialism and white supremacy in the long term, while securing safety for survivors of violence in the short term. Under these conditions of immediate threat, women of color will often become preoccupied with addressing immediate short-term crises. In addition, these state-driven surveillance strategies for addressing violence force us to see violence in specific ways that foreclose the possibility of seeing violence in other ways. In particular, these strategies frame survivors of violence as themselves the problem: survivors are “sick” and require healing from a professional who will monitor their behavior to ensure that they are healing properly. Those who do not “heal” are no longer deemed worthy of this “antiviolence” project. Thus, by seeing gender violence through the lens of the state, we can only see survivors as clients who need services, rather than as potential organizers who might dismantle social structures of violence. Indigenous feminism reshapes the manner in which we engage surveillance studies, demonstrating that focus on the surveillance strategies of the state obscure the fact that the state is itself a surveillance strategy. There is not a pure or benign state beyond its strategies of surveillance. Yet, the state, rather than being recognized for its complicity in gender violence, has become the institution promising to protect women from domestic and sexual violence by providing a provisional “sanctuary” of sorts from the now criminally defined “other” that is the perpetrator of gender violence (Richie 2000). As I have argued elsewhere (A. Smith 2005a), the state is largely responsible for introducing gender violence into indigenous communities as part of a colonial strategy that follows a logic of sexual violence. Gender violence becomes the mechanism by which U.S. colonialism is effectively and pervasively exerted on native nations (A. Smith 2005a). The complicity of the state in perpetrating gender violence in other communities of color, through slavery, prisons, and border patrol, is also well documented (Bhattacharjee 2001; Davis 2003, 1981; A. Smith 2005b). The state actually has no interest in gender or racial justice, since state laws are often, in practice, used against the people they supposedly protect. For instance, the New York Times recently reported that the effects of the strengthened anti-domestic violence legislation is that battered women kill their abusive partners less frequently; however, batterers do not kill their partners less frequently, and this is more true in black than in white communities (Butterfield 2000). With mandatory arrest laws, police officers frequently arrest those being battered rather than batterers. Thus, laws passed to protect battered women are actually protecting their batterers! Many scholars have analyzed the ineffectiveness of the criminal-justice system in addressing gender violence, particularly against poor women, women of color, sex workers, and queer communities (Richie 1996; A. Smith 2005b; Sokoloff 2005). The mainstream antiviolence movement’s reliance on policies embedded in state violence to solve the problem of gender violence depends on what David Kazanjian (2003) refers to as the “colonizing trick”: the liberal myth that the United States was founded on democratic principles that have eroded throughpost-9/11 policies, which obfuscates how the state was built on the pillars of capitalism, colonialism, and white supremacy. Reliance on state surveillance prevents us from seeing other possibilities for ending violence, such as through communal organization that might be able to address violence more effectively. This is apparent in the mandate of much surveillance studies, which tends to focus on curtailing state surveillance without questioning the state itself. Consequently, this work does not explore possibilities for different forms of governance, ones not based on the logics of patriarchal and colonial surveillance. The work of indigenous activists to develop indigenous nations that are not based on the principles of domination, violence, and control cannot be seen—even by antiviolence activists (A. Smith 2008). An evocative example is an experience I had working with the group Incite! Women of Color Against Violence. I was conducting a workshop on community accountability. We were discussing the following question: if there was violence in your community, is there anything you could do that would not involve primarily working with the police? During this discussion, one woman stated that she lived in an apartment complex in which a man was battering his partner. She did not know what do to do, because she did not trust the police, but she also did not want the abuse to continue. Her comment made me realize how much our reliance on the state has impacted not only survivors of violence but also people who might think to intervene.It did not occur to this woman—nor might it necessarily occur to many of us in a similar situation—to organize in the apartment complex to do something. The only potential interveners in this situation seems to be ourselves as individuals or the state. It seems like our only response is either a privatized response to violence or a communal one that is statedriven. The result is that not only do we not “see” other solutions to the problem of violence, but we also become absolved from having to see the violence in the first place. Essentially, the apparatus of state surveillance, which allows the state to see violence, absolves us from the responsibility of having to see it. A feminist approach to surveillance studies highlights not only the strategies of the state, but how people have internalized these same strategies, and it asks us to rethink our investment in the state. Without this intervention, the state is presumed to be our protector; we should only modify the manner in which the state protects. For example, during a survey I conducted for the Department of Justice on tribal communities’ response to sexual assault, I found that most communities had not developed a response, because they assumed the federal government was taking care of the problem. In fact, as Amnesty International later documented, the federal government very rarely prosecuted sexual assault crimes in Indian country (Amnesty International 2007). Because of an investment in the state, tribal governments had not invested in their own possibilities for addressing violence.When one asks the question “What can I do?,” the answer is likely to call the police or to do nothing. But when one asks the question “What can we do?,” a whole range of other possibilities arises. In fact, groups around the country have asked that question and have developed a variety of community-accountability models that do not rely primarily on police involvement (Chen et al. 2011).7 Similarly, many native activists, such as Sarah Deer (2009), are active in organizing tribal communities to develop their own responses to sexual violence. Of course, all of these models have their own challenges. For example, will community accountability models simply adopt the same strategies used by the state to address violence? How might these models develop without a romanticized notion of “community” that is not sexist, homophobic, or otherwise problematic—or the potentially problematic assumption that a “community” even exists in the first place? How might they address the immediate needs of survivors who may still require state intervention, even as they seek to eventually replace the state? These questions and others continue to inform the development of the community-accountability movement (Chen et al. 2011). After 9/11, even radical scholars framed George Bush’s policies as an attack on the U.S. Constitution. According to Judith Butler, Bush’s policies were acts against “existing legal frameworks, civil, military, and international” (2004, 57). Amy Kaplan similarly describes Bush’s policies as rendering increasingly more peoples under U.S. jurisdiction as “less deserving of . . . constitutional rights” (2005, 853). Thus, Bush’s strategies were deemed a suspension of law. Progressive activists and scholars accused him of eroding U.S. democracy and civil liberties. Under this framework, progressives are called in to uphold the law, defend U.S. democracy, and protect civil liberties against “unconstitutional” actions. Surveillance studies often carry similar presumptions. That is, this field is concerned with the “rapidly increasing influence of surveillance in our daily lives and in the operation of very large-scale operations” (Lyon 2007, 9). It is concerned with what is presumed to be the increasing erosion of civil liberties and the loss of privacy that this surveillance entails. It takes the state for granted, but is concerned that the state not overstep its proper boundaries. And yet, from the perspective of indigenous peoples, the eye of the state has always been genocidal, because the problem is not primarily the surveillance strategies of the state, but the state itself.If we were to employ a settler colonial analytic, we would see the growth in surveillance strategies less as a threat to the democratic ideals of the United States than as a fulfillment of them. As these surveillance strategies grow, they impact everyone, not just native peoples, because the logic of settler colonialism structures the world for everyone. In particular, surveillance strategies not only allow the state to see certain things, but prevent us from seeing the state as the settler colonial, white supremacist, and heteropatriarchal formation that it is.