Black Lives Matter Syllabus Project

The Anthropoliteia #BlackLivesMatterSyllabus Project, Week 5: Meg Stalcup and Charles Hahn on Technology, Surveillance, and Security

The editors of Anthropoliteia are happy to present the latest entry in on ongoing series The Anthropoliteia #BlackLivesMatterSyllabus Project, which will mobilize anthropological work as a pedagogical exercise addressing the confluence of race, policing and justice.  You can see a growing bibliography of resources via our Mendeley feed.   In this entry, Meg Stalcup and Charles Hahn discuss technology, surveillance, and security in their article “Cops, Cameras and the Policing of Ethics“.
 
Screen grab from post by SPDbodywornvideo CC BY-SA 4.0 2015 by Meg Stalcup

Screen grab from post by SPDbodywornvideo CC BY-SA 4.0 2015 by Meg Stalcup

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Dispatches

Hello, OPD

Oakland, California, February 2014:

On the train, a boy with a paint-filled shoeshine applicator writes his name on the seat in front of him. He works adeptly and quickly, even turning briefly toward me, grinning, while his hand continues in a smooth, controlled motion. A camera stares at us from the other end of the car. He appears either unaware of its presence or unaffected by its gaze.

A crowd waits until midnight to pack 2 hours of City Council time with protest against phase-two funding for Oakland’s Domain Awareness Center. Among those making public comments is a masked ‘Ben Franklin’. ‘George Orwell’ cedes a minute of his time to another speaker. Among jeering and outcry during the council’s discussion, the council-president calls for civility else the public be forcibly cleared.

A few days later, wandering on dérive through West Oakland, armed with my own micro surveillance apparatuses (a pair of eyes and a memory, and a digital camera), I snap a few photographs of traffic cams and empty squad cars. Again, I’m struck mostly by their impotence here, by how much escapes or doesn’t mind their field of visibility. I try to imagine how or if data flowing down walls made of monitors in dark control rooms changes being here on this corner.

Domain Awareness, Oakland, CA

Aside