States of Exception Research Workshop

States of Exception, Surveillance and Population Management: The Case of Israel/Palestine
December 6 - 7, 2008

Social science research and legal studies of surveillance in Western countries have been on the increase in the last couple of decades, in particular after the terrorist attacks of 9/11. There is, however, a dearth of comparative, empirical research that includes the Middle East. The purpose of this workshop is to examine surveillance practices in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories as a conflict zone. The case study provides an appropriate venue for examining surveillance and its associated technologies at several levels: (1) social sorting of population through discursive practices involving people counting and census construction; (2) spatial control, urban warfare, and territorial sovereignty; (3) geographic mobility; (4) use of technology in its various forms to manage people and violence in conflict situations; (5) discourses of state securitization, biopolitics, and states of exception that are deployed as means of surveillance; (6) role of the military-industrial-surveillance complex in promoting surveillance; (7) extent to which existing privacy and other related laws protect against intrusiveness by the state, private sector, and third-parties in the collection and dissemination of personal information; and (8) how the practice of social sorting in Israel/Palestine has influenced and in turn been influenced by global considerations related to the discourse on security and terrorism.

Focus of the Workshop

The workshop will have three main foci: first, to situate studies of surveillance and population management in the context of theorizing about security and states of exception; second, to analyze the assemblages of surveillance techniques ranging from traditional forms of face-to-face contact to the use of various types of technologies in the gathering of personal information; finally, through a political economy perspective, to analyze state securitisation and the relationship between the military-industrial complex and the production of surveillance technologies.

Workshop Sponsors and Venue

The workshop is part of The New Transparency project, funded by the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada through its Major Collaborative Research Initiative. The project involves an array of international scholars working in surveillance studies.

The workshop will take place in Larnaca, Cyprus on December 6 and 7. (Arrive in Larnaca on Dec 5 and depart Dec 8.) Details to follow. Note: This workshop is not open to the public.

For more information, contact Joan Sharpe, Project Administrator.