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Surveillance | Society | Culture

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Edited By Florian Zappe and Andrew S. Gross

What only a few decades ago would have been considered a totalitarian nightmare seems to have become reality: Surveillance practices and technologies have infiltrated all aspects of our lives, forcing us to reconsider established notions of privacy, subjectivity, and the status of the individual in society. The United States is central to contemporary concerns about surveillance. American companies are at the forefront of developing surveillance technologies; and government agencies, in the name of security and law and order, are monitoring our words and actions more than ever before. This book brings together an interdisciplinary group of scholars to explore the implications of what many consider to be a far-reaching social, political, and cultural transformation.

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Gazing Back at the Monster – A Critical Posthumanist Intervention on Surveillance Culture, Sousveillance and the Lifelogged Self

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“‘Control’ is the name Burroughs proposes as a term for the new monster, one that Foucault recognizes as our immediate future.”

—Gilles Deleuze, “Postscript on the Societies of Control”

“Anyone who fights with monsters should take care that he does not in the process become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes back into you.”

—Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil

Abstract: With the rapid development and increased proliferation of wearable computers and cameras during the past decade, the practice of lifelogging—the voluntary and comprehensive first-person recording and archiving of all data of everyday life by means of digital technology—has emerged as a phenomenon that poses significant challenges for a contemporary philosophy of the subject in the conditio posthumana. This chapter will reflect on a specific application of lifelogging practices and technologies and its effects on the position(s) of the subject in the context of our contemporary surveillance societies. Advocates of lifelogging—e.g. scientist and pioneering lifelogger Steve Mann—have argued that the active use of these technologies as tools for “sousveillance” might have the potential to shift the subject’s position within the network of ubiquitous surveillant gazes in the realm of the social. In their alleged ability to subvert the “hierarchy of the gazes” these strategies seem to hold a promise for empowerment, agency and resistance. This chapter scrutinizes this optimistic claim from the perspective of a critical posthumanism...

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