Surveillance Studies Summer Seminar 2019

“Smart Surveillance?”

17 June – 22 June, 2019

Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario

Call for Participation

Surveillance Studies has become a key way of understanding the contemporary world, and the Surveillance Studies Centre  (SSC) at Queen’s University has been one of the driving forces behind the growth of this transdisciplinary field. For over ten years, The Surveillance Studies Summer Seminar (SSSS), run by the SSC has provided doctoral students with an intensive, multi-disciplinary learning experience that addresses key issues of surveillance studies in ways that enhance the participants' own research projects. It provides a unique national and international networking opportunity, and makes links between scholarship, policy and activism. Former participants have described SSSS as an important point in their intellectual development, and a time when they realized that they were part of something that spanned the globe. 

This year’s theme is “Smart Surveillance?” When we talk about smart surveillance we are thinking about the nexus of surveillance with Machine Learning (ML), Artificial Intelligence (AI), robots taking our jobs, robot weapons, the Internet of Things (IoT), Voice Assistants, Smart Cities, Smart Homes, Smart everything… The questions we are interested in range from the theoretical – e.g. Is ‘smart’ always founded on surveillance? Is ‘smart surveillance’ just a development of new or digital surveillance, or potentially a bigger transformation – to the empirical – e.g. what are the surveillance features, relations and consequences of particular smart practices, models and technologies?

Even if your research does not directly address smartness per se, considering Surveillance this way is likely to be highly significant and transformative. The Surveillance Studies Summer Seminar also benefits students researching smartness in any context who haven’t yet considered the importance of surveillance.  The core of this year’s seminar is the further development of participants’ own research projects. Facilitated by a member of seminar faculty, attendees present work-in-progress to the group and then work over the course of the week to delve deeper into the insights that surveillance studies can bring to each research project. The goal is to not only learn from seminars presented by top scholars within the field, but also to receive practical and implementable feedback regarding participants’ projects.

As usual, we have learned from feedback from previous seminars and, the Surveillance Studies Summer Seminar 2019 has four main components: 

1) Thematic Discussions - leading surveillance scholars present cutting-edge research on smart surveillance and discuss the methodologies and theories they use, followed by a unique opportunity for in-depth discussion with seminar participants

2) Professional Development –leading surveillance scholars address issues such as academic publishing, knowledge mobilization, data collection, and peer-review / constructive critique.

3) Participant Presentations – participants present their submitted papers in a conference format, but with far more opportunity for discussion and constructive feedback from seminar faculty and other participants than at a regular academic conference.  

4) Networking / Social – participants are given the opportunity to form new contacts with scholars across the field of surveillance studies. This year, following feedback, we have incorporated more unstructured time for networking and relaxation. 

Deadlines & Requirements:

  • The Surveillance Studies Summer Seminar is open to doctoral students at any stage of their study.
  • Applicants are invited to submit the application form, which includes a short CV and a 400-word max abstract of your paper. The application deadline is Friday, March 15 extended to Friday, March 22
  • Abstracts are peer reviewed and accepted applicants are informed by Friday, March 29.
  • Full payment of conference fees is due by Friday, May 17th. Further information will be provided regarding payment options upon acceptance.
  • Papers (max 4,000 words) are required by Friday, May 31, and will be distributed to all participants at least two weeks in advance of the Summer Seminar.
  • Participants present their paper in a 15 minute conference presentation during the Summer Seminar, and presented papers are considered to be full conference publications.

The Program:

The program for the Surveillance Studies Summer Seminar 2019 considers “smart surveillance”, covering a range of topics and from varying disciplinary approaches. Participants learn directly from top researchers in the field of surveillance studies, as well from technical experts, activists and artists through a series of seminars, while the paper presentation, professional development and networking components of the program ensure that there are direct tangible benefits to participants' own research projects.

The course leaders for 2019 are David Murakami Wood (Queen’s) and Val Steeves (Ottawa).

The line-up of invited speakers is still in development but already confirmed are: Tracey Lauriault (Carleton University), David Lyon (Director, Surveillance Studies Centre), Alex Rosenblat (Data & Society Institute, author of Uberland), Mark Salter (Political Science, University of Ottawa, editor of Security Dialogue), sava saheli singh (SSC, Queen's), Stephen Thomas (Smith School of Business, Queen’s, Director of the graduate program in AI and Management), Rosamunde van Brakel (Law, Science Technology & Society Studies, Vrije Universiteit Brussel), and Bianca Wylie (Tech Reset Canada, co-founder of the Toronto Open Smart Cities Forum).

The Seminar begins the morning of 17th June until the evening of June 22nd. Participants should plan to arrive in Kingston on 16th June in order to start promptly on the 17th.

There are no assessed tasks and no credit for enrolling in the seminar, although an official letter confirming your completion of the seminar and presentation of a paper is provided, if requested.


The fee for the 2019 Surveillance Studies Summer Seminar is $750 CAD (approximately 565 USD, 500 EUR or 440 GBP). The Seminar is a non-profit-making event; the SSC only charges what is required to run the Seminar, and this is a reduction from the 2017 fee. The fee includes full participation, breakfast, lunches and evening meals. The fee does not include travel or accommodation. As soon as possible, you should confirm if your institution provides funding for travel and / or accommodation in cases where you will be presenting a paper, as an individually presented paper is a requirement of this year’s Seminar and this may enable you to find funding.


On-campus accommodation in Queen's University's student residence, David C. Smith Hall, is available to all participants. Accommodation expenses are NOT included in the registration fee. Each unit consists of two bedrooms with an attached full bathroom and costs $109 CAD plus 13% HST and 3% DMF tax per night. Two occupants may share one unit. The Seminar organisers will accept room sharing requests and try to match up roommates. The organisers may also be able to direct those in particular financial need to local residents with a spare bed or couch.

Payment, Cancellation and Refund Policy:

There is no deposit for this year’s Seminar. However, full payment of the seminar fee is required by Friday May 17th and no refunds can be given after this point, regardless of circumstances. Please consult Queen’s Event Services for deadlines regarding accommodation cancellations.