Modern digital technologies enable all sorts of people to watch all sorts of other people—but who are we watching, and to what end? In the year’s final episode of Theorizing the Web Presents, Priya Prabhakar examines these issues in India, where the world’s largest biometric surveillance system is used to uphold caste purity; control and coerce marginalized bodies; and anticipate, suppress, and punish dissent against the Indian nation-state. Then, Joseph Meyer considers the consequences of (purportedly) unintended statements that illustrate a user’s privilege and ignorance—and are then witnessed by millions of people via Internet media outlets. Finally, Marianne Gunderson looks at the phenomenon of “creepypasta” horror myths to examine cultural anxieties about the ubiquity of machine vision surveillance (e.g. CCTV cameras, facial recognition, and nanny cams). This episode is moderated by Dr. Johnathan Flowers (@shengokai), a Visiting Assistant Professor in the Department of Philosophy at Worcester State University whose research focuses on the affective ground of experience and embodiment through American Pragmatism, Phenomenology and East-Asian Philosophy.
Priya Prabhakar (@priyavprabhakar) is from Chennai, India, and currently works as a tenant organizer in Oakland, California. Her research explores the political economy of biometric surveillance in India, with other focuses on anti-imperialism, labor struggle, film, and the politics of visual theory and design.
Joseph Meyer (@Hypothesiss) recently earned his PhD from UMD in American Studies. His current work explores online hate and harassment movements and the ways discourse travels across platforms, evolves, and is taken up by different groups and communities.
Marianne Gunderson (@mareinna) is aPhD fellow in Digital Culture at the University of Bergen. Her research focuses on how machine vision is represented in speculative fiction and digital native storytelling practices.