Hille Koskela’s new book

pelkoTop Finnish surveillance studies academic, Hille Koskela, has a new book out, Pelkokierre – pelon politiikka, turvamarkkinat ja kamppailu kaupunkitilasta (‘The Spiral of Fear. Politics of Fear, Security Business, and the Struggle over Urban Space’). It looks like a fine addition to the literature on fear, security and surveillance, but unfortunately I can’t read it – as it’s in Suomi. Great cover though!

It should of course be translated into English and made available by an English-language publisher, but I doubt this will happen. Publishers don’t like to take what they consider to be a risk by publishing academic work from foreign countries, so unless the author is very famous or dead (or preferably both) it doesn’t happen. We tried very hard to get Michalis Lianos’s very important French book on control society published by an English-language publisher, with many supporting letters and so on, but there was no real interest.

Anyway, Hille has sent me a translation of the table of contents, which are:

1. The paradoxes of security

2. Birth of the security society
Relevant theories in sociology, social policy, geography, architecture, media studies, law and IR

3. The ontology of fear
The social production of fear, the spatial and temporal patterns, fear  as a commodity, streetwise semiotics

4. Fear in everyday life
Housing, workplaces, SUVs, public transport, tourism, child rearing,  ‘threatening’ teenagers, high school massacres

5. The architecture of fear
The classic ideas of Jacobs and Newman, contemporary architecture in public and private spaces, gating, surveillance

6. The politics of fear
Legislation (the public order act etc.), national and local security strategies, urban security politics, ‘the war’ on graffiti

7. The economy of fear
Security services, technology and other security products, images of place, crime and fear in the media

8. Towards a culture of tolerance


41F2aVrLpyL._SS500_I haven’t looked at BoingBoing in a while, but it so happened that the first post today when I finally did check in was about something wonderful and surveillance-related… this is Andrea Anastasio’s new multilayered artwork / book, Fingerprint, an exploration and extrapolation that resulted from the experience of being fingerprinted on entering the USA a few years ago.

Mega-events, Security and Surveillance

The connection between what are often called ‘mega-events’ (international summits, major sporting competitions etc.), securitization, and he intensification of surveillance is becoming a very interesting area and one which we wrote about in our recent book on urban resilience. I am writing some further stuff on this with Kiyoshi Abe on how mega-events have been managed in Japan.

It seems that in general, such events are either used as ‘test-beds’ for new technologies and procedures which are then either continued afterwards (as with The Olympic Games and CCTV in Greece in 2004 and The FIFA World Cup and video surveillance in Japan/Korea in 2002), or become ‘islands’ of temporary exemption where normal legal human rights protections are reduced or removed and whole areas of public space are often literally, fenced off (as in Rio de Janeiro for the Pan-American Games of 2007, whose model will apparently be extended to include walling off the poor favelas in time for the 2014 FIFA World Cup). There’s going to be a very interesting conference on The Surveillance Games later this year to tie in with the Vancouver Winter Olympics.

Now The Guardian newspaper is reporting that the London Olympics 2012 may make use of a proposal originally designed to stop the proliferation of unofficial commercial advertising near games venues in order to prevent protest. The legislation even allows police to enter private houses to seize material.

Of course the government say that they have no plans to use it in this way, but it’s interesting to see the way in which the ‘standards’ being imposed by such travelling cicuses of globalization tend to end up looking more like the authoritarian regime in Beijing (host of the highly securitized 2008 Olympics) than the supposedly liberal west, whilst at the same time promoting a very controlled but highly commercialized environment. Even the original purposes of the 2006 law (necessary for London to host the Games) are an interesting reflection of the massive corporate interests involved in the Olympics, for which they apparently need a captive and docile audience.

Flying Down to Rio

ariasI’m off to Rio de Janeiro on Thursday… as most people will be aware, Rio is far a long way from the romantic Hollywood-generated image of sun-kissed decadence. It is perhaps the most extremely divided city in the world. The richest parts have a higher standard of living than almost anywhere else and the poorest parts barely cling to the hillsides and to any kind of an existence. I have been reading Enrique Desmond Arias’ enlightening Drugs and Democracy in Rio de Janeiro (amongst many other books) in preparation, and right on cue, a major drugs war has apparently broken out between trafficking gangs in the Copacabana area…

I am going to be interviewing state and community representatives, and carrying out mapping exercises to assess the state of surveillance and security in several different neighbourhoods of varying social classes. The drug war is making me a little nervous, but in many ways it is an ideal time to be asking the kinds of questions I need to ask. Of course reading a book like Arias’, you tend to get anthropology-envy, but I just have to remember that my study is a very different kind of research. I am still trying to get a feel for the kinds of indicators that would enable us to make serious comparisons between the intensities and forms of surveillance across cultures and nations – and I am still very much at the beginning of the project. Some of these indicators might seem common sense and obvious but some are not, and some may not even be in any way ‘measurable’…

My fantastic temporary Research Assistant is Paola Barreta Leblanc – she has created a mash-up of my current schedule here (it will get more complex!).

Wish me luck!