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Tag: Simone Browne

The future is here – revealing algorithmic racism

The final session of this year’s Understanding Race course focuses on the ever-deepening intersections between race, digital technology and social media. Our main reading is Safiya U. Noble‘s Algorithms of Oppression which has made an important contribution to our understanding of the racialised nature of Internet search through her cogent analysis of the ways…

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Black sousveillance against ‘prototypical whiteness’: Thinking with Simone Browne

This is the seventh blog in the Race Critical & Decolonial Sociology series. This week we are reading Darkmatters: On the Surveillance of Blackness by Simone Browne, recommended and gifted to me by Jessie Daniels (thank you!). This book is a detailed study of how our understandings of contemporary practices of surveillance are deeply enhanced by the historicization of these practices in the history of racial slavery in the United States; it is thus focused on the United States and the particularity of the racialisation of blackness that defines that country. However, in its drawing out of several key themes – the surveillance of blackness, the retaliatory methods of sousveillance whose history can be traced from the slaveships to the present, the questions of epidermilisation, branding and visibility in a digital age against the backdrop of what Browne calls ‘prototypical whiteness’ – the book furthers the work of relationality I have been tracing since the outset of this series. For example, Browne adds to and deepens the critiques of Foucault laid out by Alexander Weheliye, focusing on the deraced reading of panopticism in Discipline and Punish.  Most significantly, she draws a thread between the inscription of race through epidermalisation as a form of control and commodification under slavery to contemporary biometrics as they are used in the implementation of the racialised carceral state today.

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Alana Lentin