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Mobile and Ubiquitous Media

Critical and International Perspectives


Edited By Michael S. Daubs and Vincent R. Manzerolle

What does the phrase "ubiquitous media" actually mean? Individual definitions are just as varied and ubiquitous as the media to which they refer. As a result, there is to date no large-scale theoretical framework through which we can understand the term. The goal of this volume is to provide a diverse set of critical, theoretical, and international approaches useful to those looking for a more diverse and nuanced understanding of what ubiquitous media means analytically.

In contrast to other existing texts on mobile media, these contributions on mobile media are contextualised within a larger discussion on the nature and history of ubiquitous media. Other sections of this edited volume are dedicated to historical perspectives on ubiquitous media, ubiquitous media and visual culture, the role of ubiquitous media in surveillance, the political economy of ubiquitous media, and the way a ubiquitous media environment affects communities, spaces, and places throughout the world.

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Chapter Fifteen: The Relationship Between Ubiquitous Media and Surveillance of Dissent From the Civil Rights Movement to Black Lives Matter (Sarah Harney)


chapter fifteen

The Relationship Between Ubiquitous Media and Surveillance of Dissent From the Civil Rights Movement to Black Lives Matter

Sarah Harney

Activists have frequently made use of technology as a tactical way to expand the reach of their communications and influence diverse publics. For example, “transistor radios allowed Cuban guerilla fighters to transmit from the Sierra Maestra, television coverage transformed the riots in Selma, Alabama into a national event, and e-mail accounts allowed Zapatistas in Chiapas to launch global communiques” (Bonilla and Rosa 2015, 7). Following this trend, digital media have become an integral component of contemporary social movements. From the Anti-Globalization movement, to Occupy Wall Street, and #BlackLivesMatter, digital media have figured prominently. Although digital media reduce the transactional cost for political activism, they also introduce several risks, such as the potential for surveillance. Yet surveillance of dissent is not a new phenomenon. One of the most well-documented examples of this is COINTELPRO (Counter Intelligence Program),1 which was implemented by the FBI and designed to “disrupt and neutralize individuals deemed to be threats to domestic security” (Boykoff 2007, 46). COINTELPRO targeted a number of social movements occurring in the 1960s, with its most notable targets being the Black Panther Party, and Martin Luther King. This begs the question, what makes contemporary digital media surveillance of activists different than that of the past? Although surveillance of dissent is not new, the setting in which it is taking place, as well as the...

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