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The Digital Humanities Lecture Series: On Surveillance

Strand Building, Strand Campus, London

30 Nov The Digital Humanities Lecture Series: On Surveillance Part of The Digital Humanities Lecture Series

Surveillance is reconfiguring our world – from our ideas of ourselves to the proliferation of country borders. To discuss contemporary surveillance and its moral dimensions, we want to warmly invite you to these two talks followed by a film presentation, which introduce critical research on surveillance going on in the department. The event will end with a reception open to all.

Mikkel Kenni Bruun: Watching our selves - anthropological reflections on digital self-monitoring in Britain

Vita Peacock: On the moral dimensions of surveillance - the ERC SAMCOM project (2021-2025).

Btihaj Ajana: Borderscapes – a film developed out of fieldworks in Morocco, which moves away from the simplistic depictions of migration flows and refugee crises often found in mainstream media reporting.

Photini Vrikki will be chairing the event.

Biographies

Btihaj Ajana is Professor of Ethics and Digital Culture at the department of Digital Humanities at King’s College London. Her academic research is interdisciplinary in nature and focuses on the ethical, political and ontological aspects of digital developments and their intersection with everyday cultures and modes of governance. She is the author of Governing through Biometrics: The Biopolitics of Identity (2013) and editor of Self-Tracking: Empirical and Philosophical Investigations (2018), Metric Culture: Ontologies of Self-Tracking Practices (2018) and The Quantification of Bodies in Health: Multidisciplinary Perspectives (2021). Ajana also uses the medium of film as a way of exploring social issues while bringing scholarly ideas to wider audiences. Her most recent films include Quantified Life (2017); Surveillance Culture (2017); Fem's Way (2020); and Borderscapes (2022).

Mikkel Kenni Bruun is a social anthropologist and Research Associate at DDH where he is part of the ERC SAMCOM Project (Surveillance and Moral Community: Anthropologies of Monitoring in Germany and Britain). He has previously conducted fieldwork among clinical psychologists and other mental health professionals across various sectors of mental healthcare in England. His current ethnographic research explores the use of digital self-monitoring technologies and the question of health surveillance in Britain.

Vita Peacock is a social anthropologist working across the social sciences and humanities to explore intersections between digital media and politics. She received her Ph.D in 2014 from University College London for a study of hierarchy in Germany’s Max Planck Society, and has since published a number of articles on this subject, one of which was awarded the Early Career Award by the

European Association of Social Anthropologists. From 2013-2016 she was ESRC Future Research Leaders Postdoctoral Fellow, during which she carried out extensive fieldwork with the Anonymous movement, which forms the basis of her forthcoming monograph, Digital Initiation Rites: The Arc of Anonymous in Britain. Vita is now Principal Investigator on the ERC Project Surveillance and Moral Community: Anthropologies of Monitoring in Germany and Britain, which undertakes a comparative study of surveillance cultures in Europe.

Photini Vrikki is a Lecturer in Digital Media and Culture. Her research and teaching focuses on links between social and digital inequalities; power and data; and algorithmic cultural developments. She has been awarded the Charlemagne Prize Fellowship for her project “Toward Solidary European Data Spaces” in which she explores the deployment of solidarity governance mechanisms and the role of data literacy in the European data economy.

Film synopsis Borderscapes: Borderscapes draws attention to the complexity shrouding migration and the myriad ethical and political issues arising from contemporary border policies. It builds on testimonial narratives, empirical examples, and reflective accounts to unpack the entanglements of surveillance technologies, the externalisation of border control, marchandage politique (political bargaining), and the way Europe’s colonial legacy in Africa continues today through extractive economic practices and the proliferating border and asylum control agreements (e.g. between Spain and Morocco and the recent UK-Rwanda Migration and Economic Development Partnership). The film makes you wonder, how far are developed countries willing to go to fortify their borders and revoke the freedom of movement, while at the same time intensifying their extractive practices to enable and maximise the flow of profit?


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