2019 Graduate Conference

The Johns Hopkins University Program in Racism, Immigration and Citizenship presents its Eighth Annual Interdisciplinary Graduate Student Conference

Eyes on Surveillance: (In)security in Everyday Life

  • Keynote: Bernard Harcourt, Professor of Law and Political Science, Columbia University
  • April 5 – 6, 2019
  • Johns Hopkins University, Homewood Campus, Baltimore MD
  • Submission deadline: Friday, February 15th, 2019

For this year’s conference, we invite submissions that interrogate the normalization of surveillance in our everyday life. Going beyond “surveillance” as a buzzword, we encourage research across disciplines that considers what might constitute the monitoring of bodies and actions across a variety of lived experience. To deepen our understanding of surveillance, we ask: How can we critically think about the ways constant scrutiny exacerbates, rather than resolves danger, risk and fear, often for marginalized groups? Can we imagine surveillance as something that multiplies modes of insecurity rather than reducing them?

We further ask: Can we analyze surveillance as appearing in places and forms that are unexpected, thereby expanding our understanding of what we consider to be monitoring, spying and observing? While surveillance appears in narratives and practices of national and international security regularly, it also penetrates ideas of neighborhood policing, informal and illicit economies, migration control, the medical gaze, data-mining by corporations, and even familial and gender relations in the domestic sphere. This allows us to consider recent developments like high tech sensors along border walls, the NSA leaks and the Cambridge Analytica scandal, but also more long-term processes of “securing” through surveillance: The monitoring of welfare recipients, women seeking abortion, informants in drug and other trafficking economies, or even victims of domestic violence within and outside the family. How can studying surveillance across these cross-circuits produce new ways of understanding security, risk, affect and privacy?

We accept applications from graduate students in any discipline across the social sciences and the humanities.

Papers might explore, but are not limited to, the following questions and topics:

  1. What routes does surveillance travel and what actors are involved in these circuits of surveillance (e.g. corporations, individuals, governments)?
  2. Where does surveillance take place? What are the different sites of surveillance, e.g.homes, hospitals, asylums, the internet, marginalized neighborhoods, weapons sites, airports, schools, and borders?
  3. How can we think of surveillance in terms of scaffolding scales as we move across different levels of surveillance (from the domestic/local to the global)?
  4. What affects does surveillance produce for and about people, societies, groups and institutions, e.g. suspicion, insecurity, uncertainty, distrust, danger, risk, and panic?
  5. How can we think of surveillance and the algorithms used to calculate threat as differential in its application to various groups and in its disproportionate consequences for marginalized populations? Likewise, how do disciplinary spectacles (such as US troops deployed for the migrant caravan) play a role in surveillance regimes and the policing of racial otherness?
  6. What methodologies can we use to study surveillance (e.g. archival, media, ethnography, and fiction)?

Submission Guidelines: Please submit an abstract of no more than 300 words to the Organizing Committee with the subject heading “RIC Conference Abstract” to ricjhu@jhu.edu. Please include your name and institutional affiliation in your submission. Limited travel grants and accommodation may be available for accepted participants. When submitting your proposal, please indicate whether you would like to apply for travel assistance and justify the required amount in the body of your email.

Deadline for submission is 11:59 p.m. on Friday, February 15th, 2019.

Please send any questions to ricjhu@jhu.edu.