Surveilling Global Space

Surveilling Global Space

Weiqiang Lin (National University of Singapore)

This session explores the cultural and historical subjection of global or large-scale spaces to practices of surveillance in the last century.

While recent years have most conspicuously seen growing scholarly interest in the surveillance of human mobility across international borders, there has so far been little sustained effort in examining how a wide range of other global geographies—including those involving nonhuman mobilities and circulations—can likewise be a target of such methods of scrutiny. Arguably, these social techniques of control are responsible for the creation of a variety of new, expansivespatial categories that are deemed ‘risky’ and ‘globally’ actionable. They also impel particular responses from powerful states/parties, and strategic anticipations aimed at containing the said risks.

Prospective papers germane to this session will open themselves up to these (other) global geographies of surveillance. Specifically, they will interrogate what these practices of watching, sorting and ordering—over extensive fields—mean to the imagination of globality and space. Apart from human mobility regimes, suggested topics include, but are not limited to, the surveyand organisation of airspaces, oceans and logistical chains in transport; military reconnaissanceand satellite applications; the monitoring of transboundary pollution, atmospheres, biospheres, and habitats as part of climate change or environmental action; and the management of sensitive data and transactions in electronically wired industries such as finance and media. This session aims to uncover how the invention and appropriation of these spaces have (re)shaped social life in a time of globalisation. It is also concerned with the power asymmetries and material effects of these surveillance techniques, as indelible features of the late Anthropocene.

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