Call for Papers: Societies of Control and New Technologies of Surveillance

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In the early 1990s, philosophers Manuel DeLanda and Gilles Deleuze – seemingly independent of each other – stipulated that the panopticism sketched by Michel Foucault would increasingly become usurped by new modes of ordering and surveillance.

Today, this nascent social diagram – the ”societies of control” diagram, or ”panspectrocism” – has indeed become central to the functioning of several contemporary institutions. Digitalisation of human behaviour and advances in data mining capabilities are allowing states and corporations to order the world on the basis of prediction, pattern-recognition and preemtion.

For instance, corporations such as Google and Wal-Mart are successfully deploying these techniques of surveillance to tap into the inter-psychological flows of consumer preferences. Similarly, ”panspectric” methodologies are making their inroads into the sciences, reshaping the natural sciences, as well as social sciences and humanities.

However, as is often the case, the state of the art of new technology is controlled by states. Since the 1990s discussions regarding the US ECHELON, a number of similar surveillance systems have been debated – the Swiss Onyx, the French so-called ”Frenchelon” and the US ADVISE, ANCHORY, CAPPS II, MATRIX, PANDA and TIA programmes. The most recent example of such discussion is the controversy regarding the surveillance programme planned by the Swedish FRA (the National Defence Radio Establishment).

This panel will discuss several aspects of this social diagram:

  • The panel welcomes contributions on the technological components of these systems of surveillance. How, and in which contexts, can the twin mechanisms of digitalisation of behaviours and data mining be put to productive uses?

  • Submissions on the rationales invoked around these systems of surveillance are also welcome. What ”problems of ordering” is the predictive potential of panspectrocism meant to solve?

  • What are the subjective conditions for this type of surveillance? What subjective positions are ”meaningful” when one is not surveilled as an individual, but as a receptacle for flows of preferences, incitements and desires?

  • How can these modes of ordering and surveillance be – and have been – resisted?

  • In what ways does the formation of this diagram shed light on the interrelations between military and civilian organising?

Panel format: Each author will be granted 20 minutes for presentation, followed by an additional 15 minutes of discussion. The session will be chaired by Karl Palmås.

For submission of abstracts, please contact Karl Palmås by September 30.

This text can also be downloaded as a PDF.

The panel features at ”Cognitive Capital and Spaces of Mobility”, An International Conference at the University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg November 1-2 2008.

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