31 Jan 2019 – 01 Feb 2019

Surveillance. Fictions and Emotions

Venue: ZfL, Schützenstr. 18, 10117 Berlin, 3. Et., Trajekte-Tagungsraum
Organized by Betiel Wasihun (Technische Universität Berlin) und Stefan Willer (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin)

Surveillance technologies have become an integral part of everyday life. Today’s society is increasingly shaped and controlled by video surveillance, biometrics and data mining – at workplaces, in private spaces and in cyberspace. In the wake of the paradigm shift from the ›disciplinary society‹ (Foucault) to the ›control society‹ (Deleuze), authority and power are diffused; information is gathered algorithmically and reinterpreted into patterns; surveillance has slipped into a liquid state and has become all the more ubiquitous. However, the idea of ubiquitous surveillance as such is not new at all; it refers back to traditional and influential concepts such as the divine omniscience or the ›eyes of the law.‹ Even if the idea of a centralized surveillance authority reaches its limits in the face of post-panoptic forms of surveillance, it is clear that the phantasm of constantly being-seen from a superior position has influenced contemporary surveillance discourse significantly. What is more, the cultural history of self-surveillance and self-observation also – and especially – in religious contexts goes back far beyond current electronic data technology.

The workshop »Surveillance. Fictions and Emotions« will look at such ideas and practices from various disciplines (literature, film and media studies, philosophy, sociology) in order to critically question the dynamics of today’s surveillance society. What does seeing and being-seen mean in different forms of surveillance? What kind of media and visual strategies are involved? How have the central codes of individuality, intimacy, privacy and the public changed? What mental states and emotions were – and are – associated with surveillance? Does surveillance primarily generate fear, anxiety and suspicion, or does it also enable a sense of trust and security? How do external surveillance and self-surveillance work – for example, with regards to the problem of shame? And if we take into account that the insight into internal processes is an important criterion for fictionality, how do surveillance and fiction interconnect?


Participants (complete programm will follow)

  • Julien Deonna (Université de Genève)
  • Nicole Falkenhayner (Universität Freiburg)
  • Claude Haas (ZfL)
  • Leon Hempel (TU Berlin)
  • Matthias Hurst (Bard College Berlin)
  • Dietmar Kammerer (Universität Marburg)
  • Tobias Matzner (Universität Paderborn)
  • David Murakami Wood (Queen's University, Kingston/Kanada)
  • Matthias Schwartz (ZfL)
  • Almut Suerbaum (University of Oxford)
  • Betiel Wasihun (TU Berlin)
  • Stefan Willer (HU Berlin)
  • Nils Zurawski (Universität Hamburg)