The Color of Surveillance

With the proliferation of digital monitoring and algorithmic management of gig economy and blue collar workers, it might seem like the expansion of workplace surveillance is a new trend. In reality, it is a centuries-old phenomenon that has shaped core aspects of modern privacy debates. From English Poor Laws, to the monitoring of 19th century coal miners and 20th century farmworker advocates, to contemporary efforts to track workers in the digital economy, this conference will follow the surveillance of poor and working people and those who advocate for them.

How has the myth of the untrustworthy pauper or worker transformed over time? What role has race and ethnicity played in justifying surveillance? Has this surveillance proven effective or not? How has technology normalized and propagated this surveillance? Finally, how are local communities, advocates, and artists responding to these challenges?

The Color of Surveillance addresses these questions and more, elevating the voices of working people, labor advocates, artists, and historians. The conference will take place on Thursday, November 7 in Hart Auditorium at Georgetown University Law Center, and is presented in partnership with Free Press and MediaJustice.

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