The Long History of Modern Surveillance: Excavating the Past, Contextualizing the Present
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When: Friday, May 24, 2019
9:00 AM
Where: Washington Hilton Hotel
Washington, District of Columbia 
United States
Contact: Josh Lauer

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OrganizersJosh Lauer, Nicole Maurantonio

Division/Interest Group Affiliation: Communication History Division

Description: Surveillance is a key feature of modernity and a well-established topic of communication research. Since the 1980s communication scholars have studied a broad range of surveillance-related technologies, from databases and CCTV to biometrics and big data, highlighting their implications for the future of privacy and civil society. This research, however, has focused almost exclusively on “new” media. Such presentism is understandable given the speed and stakes of recent developments, but it has also limited our understanding of larger historical forces and global historical perspectives. In short, the study of surveillance needs a history to understand where we are, how we got here, and where we might be headed.  

This ICA Communication History Division preconference is dedicated to bringing together communication scholars from diverse research traditions and from around the world to illuminate the long history of modern surveillance. This event considers the full breadth of past surveillance practices, technologies, and regimes, in multiple geographic, national, and cultural contexts, prior to the current moment. The scope includes empirical research and comparative studies, historically-informed theory, intellectual histories of the field, and methodological reflections.