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Facial (re)cognition: re(con)figuring citizenship

Authors: Megan Olinger Sweeting*,
Topics: Behavioral Geography, China
Keywords: facial recognition, surveillance, algorithmic citizenship
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Hong Kong has been afflicted by over 20 weeks of consecutive protests. Ignited by a proposed extradition bill that would have allowed Hong Kong to transfer fugitives to China, protests continue despite the bill’s withdraw. Protesters call for freedom and liberation for Hong Kong, by maintaining Hong Kong’s special administrative status within the “One Country, Two Systems” policy as established by China and the United Kingdom following the 1997 British Handover. As protests become more violent, an anti-mask law has been implemented under an Emergency Ordinance Regulation, to make it illegal for protesters to conceal their faces. Since China is one of the world’s leaders in facial recognition technology, the proposed anti-mask law surfaces concerns regarding data & bodily privacy and protection. The controversy over the anti-mask law points to the elusiveness of borders where data demarcates bodies. The use of facial recognition continues to raise concerns regarding surveillance, discrimination and privacy rights in countries around the world. In order to attend to these issues of duress, it is crucial to understand the situated and embodied ecologies in which facial recognition functions. My research explores facial recognition as a bordering practice and reconfigures citizenship through performative agency. Through case studies, I examine the lived experience and expression of living with facial recognition in Hong Kong not an exception, but an example of what is occurring at various types of borders in numerous locations around the world.

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