SSC Virtual Seminar: Sean Patrick Marrs, SSHRC Doctoral Fellow, Department of History, Queen's University, Canada

Police espionage in eighteenth-century Paris: A historical look at surveillance

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

12:30 – 1:30 pm

*Due to the limited capacity of the online-meeting platform, we have to adopt a first-come-first-serve principle. We will send the seminar link and password to registered participants.
Please RSVP to Delano Aragao Vaz by Sunday, April 4, 2021.


Since its foundation in 1667, a principal concern of the Paris police was the surveillance of foreigners travelling and staying in the city. By the late eighteenth-century, this network was used by the French foreign ministry to spy on suspect individuals. The Paris police developed a comprehensive network of informants to spy on almost all foreigners who were in the city and they placed spies in the households of prominent foreign aristocrats and infiltrated numerous societies to gather valuable information. In a less sinister endeavour, this surveillance is also an example of a state attempting to collect systematic information on a population. This presentation will unpack the police network that blanketed Paris and consider the historical relationship between surveillance, decision-making, and state-building.

About the speaker:

Sean Marrs is a PhD Candidate in History under the supervision of Dr Andrew Jainchill. His doctoral research looks at the history of state surveillance and espionage in eighteenth-century France and considers the work of the Paris police in tracking foreign tourists, diplomats, and spies who lived in the city. He was also the winner of the 2020 Matariki Network of Universities Three Minute Thesis Competition.

Everyone welcome!