Call for Abstracts (Issue 6)

Surveillance Cultures

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Guest editors: Wolfgang Hallet, Wibke Schniedermann

This special issue of On_Culture charts the fundamental changes in cultural agency brought about by expansion, digitalization, and de-materialization of surveillance technologies. These developments penetrate every-day experiences down to the most quotidian and unconscious practices as well as the very materiality of the affected bodies. As a growing performative force, these practices and the responses they elicit work towards an essential cultural restructuring that results in a plurality of surveillance cultures. This pluralization calls for a radical reconceptualization of surveillance with regard to the personal as well as systemic possibilities it re-determines.

This cultural shift challenges us to reformulate basic epistemological questions of knowability through the omnipresence of coded, immaterial yet deeply personal information. This issue will address the growing concern with the fundamental interventions into social and cultural lives made by current surveillance technologies. How do societies at large as well as individual subjects undergo, exert, and perform different forms of surveillance? How do subjects respond to the experience of actual or imagined surveillance in different environments, e.g. in the workplace, on vacation, in one’s home, or online? How does the de-materialization and de-visualization of surveillance alter socio-cultural realities and in consequence individual behaviors? Where do the physical and bodily effects of potentially constant surveillance find their individual expression? What is the correlation between different forms of surveillance, security measures, and behavioral adaptation? Whose behavior is being normalized, and to what end? How can we grasp this culturally performative force and make it useful?

The issue also aims to analyze the discourses arising from this changing surveillance landscape and the resulting divergence in the cultural imaginary. Metaphors of surveillance are largely influenced by visual and optical components like security cameras, CCTV, and satellite photos. Yet, visual observation is being supplemented and often outdone in scope by the gathering of ever larger amounts of what would until not too long ago have been considered unprocessable and therefore useless data. With technological advancement enabling extensive and almost gapless “dataveillance” of a person’s activities, the algorithmization of the subject is altering our very notion of the individual as social agent.

With this interdisciplinary special issue, we want to call attention to these tacit reconceptualizations of surveillance that are currently occurring. We also call for contributions that shed light on how surveillance practices themselves are producers of social and cultural structures, thus working to re-determine the realm of the possible for each subject. The focus will be on the political-cultural dimension of surveillance within our current empirical realities as well as the historical contexts from which today’s surveillance practices arose. We welcome contributions from all disciplines within the study of culture.

In addition to academic papers, the editors would also like to invite non-academic contributions such as artistic examinations, video clips, interviews, opinion pieces, and shorter reflections on the topic of this issue to accompany and complement the academic discussion for the _Perspectives section.

If you are interested in having a peer reviewed academic article featured in the next issue, please sub­mit an abstract of 300 words with the article title and a short biographical note to (subject line “Abstract Submission Issue 6”) no later than March 30, 2018. You will be notified by April 15, 2018 whether your paper proposal has been accepted. The final date for full paper sub­missions is July 1, 2018.

About On_Culture: The Open Journal for the Study of Culture

On_Culture: The Open Journal for the Study of Culture (ISSN: 2366-4142) is a biannual, peer-reviewed academic eJournal created and edited by doctoral researchers, postdocs, and professors working at the International Graduate Centre for the Study of Culture (GCSC) at Justus-Liebig-University Giessen. It provides a platform and forum for pursuing and reflecting on the study of culture. It investigates, problematizes, and develops key concepts and methods in the field by means of a collaborative and collective process. On_Culture is dedicated to fostering such engagements as well as the cultural dynamics at work in thinking about and reflecting on culture.

The journal consists of three sections: peer-reviewed academic _Articles, _Essays, and the aforementioned _Perspectives. On_Culture brings new approaches and emerging topics to the (trans)national study of culture ‘on the line’ and, in so doing, fills the gap ____ between ‘on’ and ‘culture.’ There are numerous ways of filling the gap, and a plurality of approaches is something for which we strive with each new issue.