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Beyond surveillor and surveilland: exploring the role of third parties [Anthropology of Surveillance Network (ANSUR)] 
Vita Peacock (King's College London)
Deniz Yonucu (Newcastle University)
Erol Saglam (IMU)
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Matan Shapiro (King's College London)
Vita Peacock (King's College London)
Thursday 25 July, -, -
Time zone: Europe/Madrid
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Short Abstract:

This panel draws on anthropological theories of exchange to explore how third parties mediate encounters between surveillors and surveillands.

Long Abstract:

Cultures of surveillance have often been understood as entanglements between the subjects and objects of surveillance. This panel explores the role of third parties in the mediation of this dyad. It draws on anthropological theories of exchange, in which transactions between donors and recipients occur in relation to a ‘third’, who constitutes the imagined gaze of a community (Leroy 1979, Munn 1992, Rio 2007).

The third can be concrete or abstract, human or non-human. A surveillance technology, such as a body-cam, may be inserted into encounters between staff and customers or citizens, in order to introduce a mollifying ‘impartial spectator’ (Smith 1759). In other domains, such as cryptocurrencies, there may be a drive to erase the existence of third parties, which entails transforming the monitoring third from human actors into algorithms. Both of these – a phenomenon driving the distribution of surveillance globally – operate on the logic that machines make more moral thirds. Although, here the third is imagined as a force for good, it can also, elsewhere, be thought of as malevolent, like the sorcerer’s power to cause harm (Rio 2002). ‘Third parties’ is also an active legal term in data protection law, that intervenes in new regimes of surveillance capitalism.

This Anthropology of Surveillance Network panel asks, how does the third ‘do’ or ‘undo’ encounters between surveillors and surveillands? What happens anthropologically when third parties are introduced or erased? How do reifications like ‘the state’ or ‘Big Tech’, mediate relationships in communities with a consciousnesss of surveillance?

Accepted papers:

Session 1 Thursday 25 July, 2024, -
Session 2 Thursday 25 July, 2024, -