Visiting scholars, students, and faculty discuss new theorizations of surveillance

Students enrolled in the Ph.D. program in social sciences at Birzeit University discussed new directions in the burgeoning field of surveillance studies, particularly focusing on new theorizations of surveillance, in a seminar held on Wednesday, April 10, 2019.

Held in collaboration with the Palestinian Festival of Literature 2019, the seminar featured Simone Browne, an associate professor at the Department of African and African Diaspora Studies at the University of Texas at Austin; Madiha Tahir, a Ph.D. candidate in anthropology and media studies at Columbia University; and Ala Alazzeh, an assistant professor of anthropology in the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences at Birzeit University.  

Tahir, whose doctoral thesis focuses on autonomous warfare and the war on terror, presented her ethnographic research on drone warfare in Pakistan, and Browne discussed the experiences of African Americans as an “an absented presence” in the field of surveillance studies.  Both speakers situated their studies of surveillance within the relevant historical contexts: the so-called war on terror in the age of American presence in post-colonial Pakistan and the violent history of slavery in the United States.  

Alazzeh offered reflections on how these new theorizations can contribute to the study of surveillance in Palestine and gave several examples. A lively discussion among the students and speakers followed.