Wednesday, December 16 // 2:00PM ET
All Eyes on You
Moderated by Jonathan Flowers
Modern digital technologies enable all sorts of people to watch all sorts of other people — but who watches whom, and to what end? In the last episode of TtW Presents, Priya Prabhakar examines biometric surveillance in India, where the world’s largest biometric surveillance system is used to uphold caste purity, control and coerce marginalized bodies, and anticipate, suppress, and punish dissent against the Indian nation-state. Next, Joseph Meyer considers the consequences of (purportedly) unintended statements that illustrate a user’s privilege and ignorance — and are then witnessed by millions of people via Internet media outlets. Finally, Marianne Gunderson looks at “creepypasta” horror to examine cultural anxieties about the ubiquity of machine vision surveillance (e.g. CCTV cameras, facial recognition, and nanny cams). This episode is moderated by Dr. Johnathan Flowers.
Tracing Biometric Assemblages in India’s Surveillance State: Reproducing Colonial Logics, Reifying Caste Purity, and Quelling Dissent Through Aadhaar
In this presentation, I seek to understand the historical conditions that rendered the nation-state of India as having the world’s largest biometric surveillance system: Aadhaar. Aadhaar champions biopolitical control used to uphold caste purity, control and coerce marginalized bodies, and anticipate, suppress, and punish dissent against the Indian nation-state. Aadhaar is also used as a means to achieve necropolitical control over those who fail to assimilate into the system and become disposable to the nation-state. How can we fight against the constant reproduction of techno-solutionism and biometric surveillance? In order to move towards a praxis of anti-surveillance, we must make political demands for dominationless societies where care, solidarity, and trust substitute surveillance.
The Politics of Unintention: A Decade of “Showing Your Ass” on the Internet
What does the last decade of “showing your ass” have to tell us about the next decade of online discourse? Throughout the 2010s, publicly broadcast moments of racism, misogyny, and more have come to define the landscapes of discursive conflict that exist across contemporary online life. The unintended nature of very explicit forms of oppression enacted by folks online speak to what I term the politics of unintention, the prerogative of power to protect itself in the information age.
The Internet of Eyes: Machine Vision in Digital Horror
Creepypasta is a genre of digital horror written within online communities in the tradition of folklore or urban legends, and many of them feature machine vision or surveillance technologies such as CCTV cameras, facial recognition, or nanny cams. Combining horror tropes with the idea of digital surveillance, these stories function as affective articulations that reveal the anxieties about being surrounded by machine vision. I argue that the fears articulated in these stories revolve around how these technologies mediate our relationship with reality and redistribute agency within human/machine assemblages.
Priya Prabhakar (@priyavprabhakar)
Priya Prabhakar is from Chennai, India, and currently works as a tenant organizer in Oakland, California. Her research explores the political economy of biometric surveillance in India, with other focuses on anti-imperialism, labor struggle, film, and the politics of visual theory and design.
Joseph Meyer (@Hypothesiss)
Joseph Meyer recently earned his PhD from UMD in American Studies. His current work explores online hate and harassment movements and the ways discourse travels across platforms, evolves, and is taken up by different groups and communities.
Marianne Gunderson (@mareinna)
Marianne Gunderson is a PhD fellow in Digital Culture at the University of Bergen. Her research focuses on how machine vision is represented in speculative fiction and digital native storytelling practices.
Jonathan Flowers (@shengokai)
is a Visiting Assistant Professor in the Department of Philosophy at Worcester State University. His research focuses on the affective ground of experience and embodiment through American Pragmatism, Phenomenology and East-Asian Philosophy. He also focuses on Pragmatist and cross-cultural approaches to machine intelligence, consciousness, and science and technology studies broadly.