The Data Revolution

10309475_556761331111976_7897627149443974030_nI’m far from the only academic studying smart cities and big data-driven urbanism. One of the people who’s most inspired my work (in many ways) over the years, is Rob Kitchin – sometimes I even spell his name right! Rob has this fantastic new book, The Data Revolution, coming out in September from Sage, and very helpfully he has put the bibliography, and a lot of other stuff, online. This is the way scholarship should be. Too many of us still guard our ‘secret’ sources and keep our work-in-progress close to our chests. But if we want people to read what we do, think and take action, then more open scholarship is the way to go.

Transparent Lives: Surveillance in Canada

The New Transparency project is coming to an end, and we are launching our major final report, Transparent Lives: Surveillance in Canada / Vivre à nu: La surveillance au Canada, in Ottawa on Thursday 8th May (which is also my birthday!). The report is being published as a book by Athabasca University Press, so it is available in all formats including a free-t0-download PDF. We want as many people in Canada (and elsewhere) to read it as possible.

The launch will be covered by the Canadian press and was already blogged in the Ottawa Citizen a few days ago.

A website with resources and summaries will be here very soon, and there is also a promotional video / trailer here in Youtube.


What I’m reading, January 2013

I am going to try to do a reasonably regular round-up of books on surveillance and security that have come across my desk.

First up is Harvey Molotch’s new one, Against Security (Princeton, 2012), published just at the back end of last year, which is an excellent and wise demolition of contemporary US security culture. Wisdom is a quality that I am rather wary of attributing to any work, but Molotch’s book really has the intelligence, consideration and compassion that constitute wisdom. Plus he’s a lovely man in person, who I had the pleasure of meeting for the first time last year at the Association of American Geographer’s Annual Conference in his native New York.

Second is Zooland, by Irus Braverman (Stanford Law Books, 2013). Just out is this great book from one of the most uncategorisable and free-roaming young scholars around. Irus has written on all kinds of things from the use of trees in the Israel-Palestine conflict to the surveillance and security dimensions of automated public washrooms, and in this book, she deals with zoos, but from a governance perspective, dealing with the management and global flows of human and animal bodies, materiel and increasingly importantly, data, that make them up. There will be a glowing review of this by Kevin Haggerty in the next (double) issue of Surveillance & Society 10(3/4), out very soon.

I’ve just received a copy of Surveillance on Screen, by Sébastien Lefait (Scarecrow Press, 2013). He’s not someone I had ever come across before, but this looks to be the most comprehensive and wide-ranging study so far of surveillance cinema. I’ll be reviewing it for Surveillance & Society

As someone who was originally a historian, I am still always drawn to approaches which take a long view. Endless Empire, a collection edited by Alfred McCoy, Josep Fradera and Stephen Jacobsen (Wisconsin, 2012). A set of essays by leading historians of imperialism which adds to the longstanding debate about whether the USA is in decline as an imperial power and they are very much on the ‘decline’ side. McCoy has become one of my favourite historians largely due to Policing America’s Empire (Wisconsin, 2010), his work about US neo-imperialism, surveillance and control in the Philippines.

My other favourite working historian is Mark Mazower, and I’m just finishing his recent book, Governing the World (Penguin 2012) a major synthesis which examines the intellectual and political history of attempts to create global governance in the modern period. This was published just as I was starting to revise my article for Geoforum on global surveillance and it has helped a lot with how I have been thinking about my revisions. Among the gems in the book for surveillance studies scholars, or indeed anyone interested in government – Jeremy Bentham’s design for the Panopticon is pretty much unavoidable in this area, but I hadn’t paid much attention to the fact that he also invented the word ‘international’…


New Book – Surveillance and Control in Israel/Palestine

The Surveillance Studies Centre says: Congratulations to Elia Zureik, David Lyon, Yasmeen Abu-Laban and all the contributors on their new book Surveillance and Control in Israel/Palestine, now available from Routledge. The book is an edited collection of papers from the research workshop, States of Exception, Surveillance and Population Management: The Case of Israel/Palestine, organized by The New Transparency Project in Cyprus, December 2008.

ISBN: 978-0-415-58861-4


Preface – Elia Zureik, David Lyon and Yasmeen Abu-Laban

Part I: Introduction

1. Colonialism, Surveillance and Population Control: Israel/Palestine – Elia Zureik

Part II: Theories of Surveillance in Conflict Zones

2. Identification, Colonialism and Control: Surveillant Sorting in Israel/Palestine – David Lyon

3. Making Place for the Palestinians in the Altneuland: Herzl, Anti-Semitism, and the Jewish State – Glenn Bowman

Part III: Civilian Surveillance

4. Ominous Designs: Israel’s Strategies and Tactics of Controlling the Palestinians during the First Two Decades – Ahmad Sa’di

5. The Matrix of Surveillance in Times of National Conflict: The Israeli-Palestinian Case – Hillel Cohen

6. The Changing Patterns of Disciplining Palestinian National Memory in Israel – Tamir Sorek

Part IV: Political Economy and Globalization of Surveillance

7. Laboratories of War: Surveillance and US-Israeli Collaboration in War and Security – Steven Graham

8. Israel’s Emergence as a Homeland Security Capital – Neve Gordon

9. From Tanks to Wheelchairs: Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, Zionist Battlefield Experiments, and the Transparency of the Civilian – Nick Denes

Part V: Citizenship Criteria and State Construction

10. Legal Analysis and Critique of Some Surveillance Methods Used by Israel – Usama Halabi

11. Orange, Green, and Blue: Colour-Coded Paperwork for Palestinian Population Control – Helga Tawil-Souri

12. “You Must Know Your Stock”: Census as Surveillance Practice in 1948 and 1967 – Anat E. Leibler

Part VI: Surveillance, Racialization, and Uncertainty

13. Exclusionary Surveillance and Spatial Uncertainty in the Occupied Palestinian Territories – Ariel Handel

14. “Israelization” of Social Sorting and the “Palestinianization” of the Racial Contract: Reframing Israel/Palestine and The War on Terror – Yasmeen Abu-Laban and Abigail B. Bakan

Part VII: Territory and Population Management in Conflict Zones

15. British and Zionist Data Gathering on Palestinian Arab Land Ownership and Population during the Mandate – Michael Fischbach

16. Surveillance and Spatial Flows in the Occupied Palestinian Territories – Nurhan Abujidi

17. Territorial Dispossession and Population Control of the Palestinians – Rassem Khamaisi

Part VIII: Social Ordering, Biopolitics and Profiling

18. The Palestinian Authority Security Apparatus: Biopolitics, Surveillance and Resistance in the Occupied Palestinian Territories – Nigel Parsons

19. Behavioural Profiling in Israeli Aviation Security as a Tool for Social Control – Reg Whitaker

School Surveillance

No-one could have failed to notice the gradual infiltration of security and surveillance technologies and practices into schools throughout the industrialised word. Of course, schools have always been sorting mechanisms (as Foucault pointed out), but the use of high-tech scanning systems at entrances, cameras in classrooms, RFID for library books and even meals, point to not just a justifiable concern with the safety of kids (and staff) but a combination of commercial pressure and paranoia.

My friend and colleague, Torin Monahan from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, has a new edited collection out on this very topic with Rodolfo Torres. Schools under Surveillance has a range of contributors, most of whom it is good to see are not the usual Surveillance Studies suspects. His local paper, The Tennessean did a story on the book, which notes Torin, has generated “a lot of crazy blowback” from bloggers in particular School surveillance is a sensitive topic which needs careful consideration, and it’s a shame some people can’t discuss these issues without such stupidity.