In Dark Matters Simone Browne locates the conditions of blackness as a key site through which surveillance is practiced, narrated, and resisted. She shows how contemporary surveillance technologies and practices are informed by the long history of racial formation and by the methods of policing black life under slavery, such as branding, runaway slave notices, and lantern laws. Placing surveillance studies into conversation with the archive of transatlantic slavery and its afterlife, Browne draws from black feminist theory, sociology, and cultural studies to analyze texts as diverse as the methods of surveilling blackness she discusses: from the design of the eighteenth-century slave ship Brooks, Jeremy Bentham’s Panopticon, and The Book of Negroes, to contemporary art, literature, biometrics, and post-9/11 airport security practices. Surveillance, Browne asserts, is both a discursive and material practice that reifies boundaries, borders, and bodies around racial lines, so much so that the surveillance of blackness has long been, and continues to be, a social and political norm.
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“This book provides new eyes to a subject that is rarely discussed. Well, it is most often discussed as we talk about the internet and what happens to private data from our lives and business. However, as with most things in the United States, there is a dark side most often suspiciously addressed to the dark people in our midst. Yes, I’m talking about history, the beginning of the country and slavery. In the United States, the Africans were always watched: Are the blacks doing what they are suppose to be doing? Are the blacks where they are suppose to be? To know all this requires deputizing everybody, most often whites, but also the non-white Africans and native Americans, in the service of this agenda. I learned a lot. From lantern laws to passports, so very much in our everyday life goes back to the need to know where the Blacks are and what they are doing. Now that all are enslaved via credit, the surveillance state has evolved and intensified so gradually — like a simmering pot that boils. Thank you for giving us new insights into the “how” and the “why” of our present surveillance state.” By V. M. Ricks
“This is a great genealogy of surveillance practices in relation to black communities in north america. there is also a great deal packed in that will be useful to folks thinking about matters of space and place along side questions of race and gender.” By Amazon Customer