[Air-l] CFP: workshop on surveillance infrastructure

David J. Phillips djp at mail.utexas.edu
Fri Feb 10 16:16:33 PST 2006



Workshop on Generating Collaborative Research in the

Ethical Design of Surveillance Infrastructures

June 8-11, 2006; Austin, Texas

Surveillance may be understood as a set of processes of identification, 
tracking, analysis and response which organize social knowledge, social 
relations, and social power.  Surveillance mediates everyday life.  For 
example, internet "cookies," shopping loyalty cards, and mobile phone 
numbers all individuate and identify us.  These identifiers are used to 
index databases recording our web surfing activities, our purchases, and 
our movements.  The databases are subjected to statistical analysis in 
order to produce knowledge of demographic categories, typical patterns, or 
suspect behavior.  This knowledge is then applied back to individuals in 
the population in order to assign each to a particular niche market or risk 
group, and to act toward them accordingly.  Thus, through surveillance, 
knowledge is created, categories and types are produced, individuals are 
assigned social identities, and actions are taken that articulate those 
identities within a larger social order.

These surveillance practices are themselves shaped by overlapping and 
intertwined technical systems, laws, institutional configurations, and 
cultural understandings.  This "infrastructure" of surveillance supports 
patterns of access to the resources of knowledge production, social 
visibility, and social position.

In June 2006 a three-day workshop will be held in Austin, Texas. The 
purpose of the meeting is to generate collaborative research projects 
exploring further
    * the social implications of surveillance practice,
    * the technological, legal, economic, and cultural infrastructures that 
shape surveillance practice, and
    * possible technological, legal, economic, or cultural interventions to 
reshape those infrastructures to desired ends.

  The workshop will address this issue in the context of the following themes:
    * If surveillance mediates the production of categories and types of 
people, how can surveillance infrastructures be shaped to permit 
individuals, and groups of individuals, to coalesce around a particular 
    * How can surveillance infrastructures mediate the ability of groups 
and individuals to "perform" certain identities within certain contexts?
    * How can surveillance infrastructures mediate the ability of 
subcultures to generate and sustain knowledge of and for themselves?
    * How can surveillance resources be appropriately allocated to ensure 
that groups of many scales (the family, the subculture, the nation) are 
able to defend, protect, and nurture their own (perhaps conflicting) interests?

We seek participants whose interests and expertise complement and expand 
upon each other's work in social theory, information system design, 
business, and public policy, and who will be able to address issues such as:
    * the application of legal paradigms other than privacy to practices of 
information collection. We are particularly interested explorations of 
legal theories of cultural rights and information commons.
    * the application of novel information processing techniques, 
including, but not limited to, pseudonymity, digital rights management, and 
cluster analysis.
    * the application of social theories of identity, including queer 
theory and performance studies.
    * the intersection of market interests with ethical surveillance practice.

The workshop is intended to provide the initial venue for the production of 
fundable, collaborative, cross-disciplinary research proposals. 
Participants will be expected to prepare a position paper for distribution 
one month prior to the meeting. At the workshop itself, we will identify 
synergistic interactions of expertise, fruitful research directions, and 
possible sources of funding. After the workshop, participants will be 
eligible to apply for seed money grants to complete collaborative grant 
proposals to pursue those projects.  Participants will also be invited to 
contribute to an edited volume.

The project will provide meals and accommodation for workshop participants, 
and will reimburse reasonable travel costs. Please include a quote of 
lowest available airfare in your application. Participants from outside the 
U.S. are especially encouraged to apply.

Potential participants should submit (to djp at mail.utexas.edu) proposals 
consisting of two parts:

(1) a 750-1000 word abstract, describing your area of research, its 
relevance to the conference topic, and a proposed presentation. The 
abstract should directly address a collaborative element ­ a 
cross-disciplinary or cross-professional alignment that would further the 
presenter's research goal.

(2) a one-page biography or curriculum vitae, listing your relevant 
publications and experience.

The deadline for proposals is March 1, 2006.  Participants will be selected 
by March 20, 2006.

For more information, please contact David Phillips (djp at mail.utexas.edu), 
or visit 

This project is supported by the National Science Foundation under grant 
#0551532 and by the University of Texas College of Communication and 
Department of Radio-Television-Film.

David J. Phillips, Associate Professor of Radio/Television/Film
University of Texas at Austin
djp at mail.utexas.edu

512-471-6624 (voice); 512-471-4077 (fax)

Postal address:  1 University Station A0800, Austin, TX , 78712-0108
Street address (for deliveries): CMA6.118 (26th and Whitis)
Office address:  Walter Webb Hall 404

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