SSC Seminar Series: Francesca Menichelli

Mac-Corry Room D-411 (Sociology Lounge)
12:30 - 2:00 pm

Francesca Menichelli (PhD candidate, visiting from the Department of Sociology, University of Milano-Bicocca)

Opening the Black Box of Video Surveillance

In the literature, open street CCTV is traditionally analyzed in two related ways. At the macro level, its diffusion is framed within a shift towards neoliberal urbanism. At the micro level, the day-to-day reality of how surveillance is carried out in specific sites relies on the notion of targeted surveillance to explain how public space is sanitized. While I do not intend to diminish the value of such theorizations, I believe that there are two problems with them: the notion of “neoliberal urbanism” and the idea that control rooms operate in predictable ways. Drawing upon an eclectic range of sources, from ANT to ethnomethodology, to urban studies and geography, I first argue that the idea of a “one-size-fits-all” model of urban neoliberalism is untenable, and that a newfound attention to space can help us to advance a novel conceptualization of CCTV. On a general level, I therefore wish to explain the diffusion of video surveillance in Italy as linked to a broader process of reconfiguration of state sovereignty where powers are shifted from the national government to local authorities. On the back of data gathered in two police-run open street CCTV systems, I also argue that the day-to-day reality of control room operations relies on the creation and maintenance of a series of spatial distinctions in relation to the policing of urban space.

Everyone welcome!