Call for Papers:

States of Exception, Surveillance and Population Management:
The Case of Israel/Palestine; due 1 April 2008.

PDF version available here.

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 call for papers 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 Proposed Workshop

The proposed workshop will have three main foci: one, 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. While twenty possible topics which address these foci are listed below, potential participants are encouraged to suggest for possible considerations other topics that fit within the overall framework of the workshop.

Suggested Topics for a Workshop on Surveillance in Israel/Palestine:

  1. Theorizing states of exception and suspension of the law in conflict zones. Examples should include Israel/Palestine and other regions
  2. Use of maps and censuses as surveillance tools in the construction of citizenship, identities boundaries, and borders
  3. The logic of biopolitics in Israel/Palestine as a case study or in comparison with other regions
  4. Colonialism and states of exception in the analysis of population management and surveillance in British colonial Palestine
  5. Face-to-face surveillance (role of informants and collaborators in pre- and post-1948 Israel/Palestine)
  6. Surveillance as a prelude to Palestinian refugee exodus in 1948
  7. The checkpoint experience from the points of view of (a) the Palestinians and (b) Israeli soldiers
  8. The passport and the ID as markers of citizenship criteria
  9. Urban design, urban warfare and technologies of control
  10. The Israeli military-industrial-surveillance complex (a political economy approach)
  11. Israel and other states of exception: surveillance in the securitisation of the state (role of military, police, and other security agencies)
  12. Surveillance by the private sector (internet service providers, retail enterprises, commercial databases, etc.)
  13. Use of CCTV (as for example in Jerusalem, on Road 6, or other public places in Israel and the OPT)
  14. Profiling of individuals at crossing points
  15. The Wall a means of surveillance/security and a tool of land/border and population management
  16. The technological fix to counter surveillance and privacy protection: A critical assessment
  17. Citizen knowledge and awareness of surveillance/privacy laws and their impact on human rights, freedom of information, etc.
  18. The extent to which Israeli policies of social sorting have influenced and been influenced by other conflict zones
  19. Analysis of social sorting and its impact on issues of social justice and human security
  20. Modes of resistance to surveillance techniques

Workshop Sponsors and Venue

The workshop is part of The New Transparency: Surveillance and Social Sorting project that is 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 be held either at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario or somewhere in the Middle East, depending on where the majority of participants are likely to come from. Cost is a consideration here. At this stage, the workshop is scheduled to be held from 8-9 December 2008 at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario.

Those who are interested in submitting a proposal to participate in the workshop, should send their enquiries and a 500-word abstract to Elia Zureik , Yasmeen Abu-Laban, or David Lyon by April 1, 2008. Participants are encouraged to seek funding from their institutions. Some funds may be available for economy travel and local accommodation for those who can demonstrate that their institutions or funding councils have turned down their request for funding.