Who’s looking at whom: Review of Feminist Surveillance Studies, Eds. Rachel E. Dubrofsky and Shoshana Amielle Magnet

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Authors

Colleges, School and Institutes

Abstract

Rachel E. Dubrofsky and Shoshana Amielle Magnet’s introduction to Feminist Surveillance Studies begins with a description of an academic scene:
At a recent roundtable of academics and privacy advocates discussing surveillance studies and inequality, the conversation variously turned to consumer surveillance, new technologies, and the weakened legislative climate on privacy in both the United States and Canada. While we share the interests of the discussants, we wonder at the place of feminist concerns about surveillance and issues of inequality. (p1)
I turn to the resulting book Feminist Surveillance Studies off the back of a similar scene—an academic symposium on transparency and secrecy—with similar questions. As Rachel Hall notes, in her chapter for Feminist Surveillance Studies on the use of full body scanners in US airports, transparency is a threshold concept for all those interrogating public practices of surveillance and governance. Hall writes that an ‘aesthetics of transparency’ can be defined as the forcing of ‘a correspondence between interiority and exteriority on the objects of the preventative gaze, or better yet, to flatten the object of surveillance’ (p127). What this new collection convincingly asserts is that the demand for transparency placed on people by governing regimes does not affect all equally; that ‘correspondences’ are forced and made in service of different ideological ends; and that the academic and activist methods we might have for analysing, interrogating and countering regimes of transparency and surveillance must be able to engage ‘terms of gendered, sexualized, raced and classed representations of bodies’ (Dubrofsky and Magnet p2).

Details

Original languageEnglish
JournalNew Formations
Publication statusPublished - 2015