Penn Calendar Penn A-Z School of Arts and Sciences University of Pennsylvania

Graduate Workshop - States of Surveillance

Wednesday, November 11, 2015 - 12:00pm to 1:30pm
THIS MONTH'S PAPERS EXAMINE how people live under different "surveillance states." From a history of the Soviet Union's secret police to an anthropologist's study of poverty and precarity in present-day Philadelphia, these two papers ask us to think about how people experience and negotiate states that monitor them.
Based on fieldwork completed in central and north Philadelphia, Tali's paper focuses on the life of one woman, "Kira," to understand the implications and experience of state surveillance. Looking at Kira's intimate and structural relationships, the paper explores the interactions between feelings, affect and surveillance, helping us better understand the possibilities for freedom and continuity in the post-industrial city.
Alex’s paper focuses on the limitations of KGB surveillance and its failure to police interactions between Soviet citizens and foreigners. Based on research in KGB archives, the paper emphasizes the importance of international travel and exchanges, which created opportunities for foreigners to undermine the state’s surveillance apparatus. The paper raises important questions about the relationship between surveillance, secret policing, and transnational actors in the Soviet Union.