Anthropology of Surveillance

The aim of the ANSUR network is to provide a space to bring together anthropologists examining ideas and practices of surveillance, as broadly conceived. Surveillance has been studied in many forms by political anthropologists, digital anthropologists, and medical anthropologists among others, but has not yet been subject to an integrated conversation across the discipline. ANSUR approaches surveillance as the outcome of social relationships that bind people in each setting, varying according to social, cultural and technical conditions. In particular, the ascent of ‘participatory’ surveillance enabled by the ubiquity of smartphones, fractures older analyses that view surveillance through the lens of clear power asymmetries, and opens up new questions around complicity and consent, as well as potentials for subversion and resistance. In addition to assembling this discussion, we seek to amplify anthropological perspectives on surveillance in the public sphere, during this epochal shift in the history of technology.

The network was founded in January 2021 by Vita Peacock, Deniz Yonucu and Rune Steenberg, and builds upon the rich literature on surveillance—from the perspectives of both anthropology and surveillance studies. By drawing on the networking opportunities afforded by the EASA community, it aims to advance this conversation in light of changing socio-technical conditions.
For background reading, see ‘Surveillance’ in the Open Encyclopaedia of Anthropology.

Illustrative topics

  • Social media
  • Audio-visual / Sensor / GPS technologies
  • Borders and biometric citizenship
  • Sousveillance / Counter-surveillance
  • Public / private health tracking
  • Surveillant assemblages
  • Digital enclosure
  • Big data and dataveillance
  • Surveillance humanitarianism
  • Surveillance labour
  • Synopticism
  • Social Credit
  • Smart Cities
  • Profiling and policing

Vita Peacock, King’s College London,
Erol Saglam, Istanbul Medeniyet University,
Deniz Yonucu, Newcastle University,

Connect with us
Mailing list:
Twitter: @ansurnetwork
Spotify: Podcast series #UnderSurveillance