Digital Policing: Techno-optimism, Surveillance, and Political Subjectivity in the ‘Digital Age’

Authors: Hayal Akarsu*,
Topics: Political Geography, Social Theory
Keywords: policing, police, reform, digital, violence, political, technology, ethnography, surveillance, techno-optimism
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/3/2019
Start / End Time: 2:35 PM / 4:15 PM
Room: Washington 3, Marriott, Exhibition Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


What is ‘digital policing’? What does it say about the emerging spaces and everyday apparatuses of power around the world? What is digital space and how can critical geography account for and theorize such spaces? The talk will sketch how so-called transformative digital technologies are being incorporated into everyday policing practice and surveillance in Turkey. In the last ten years, Turkey has been expanding its policing industry, importing and investing in surveillance technologies as well as establishing special units concerned with cybersecurity, social-media policing, and ‘digital public engagement’. While these technologies and new digital media forms are often marketed globally with techno-optimistic potentials to curb police violence, in Turkey (like elsewhere) they are also integrated into projects to monitor dissident activity in digital platforms and social media. The talk will explore changing definitions of digital crime, technology, and security, and emerging national and international enforcement bodies, tools and technologies, and digitally-mediated political collectivities (i.e. internet trolls, hashtag protestors, cell phone-journalists, cyber-snitchers, etc.) this process brings forth. The talk also discusses ethnographic methods available to the study of critical digital geographies, and their potential to build a critical political temporality, unsettling the future-oriented aspirations of digital police worlds.

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