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The de-realization of Black bodies in an era of mass digital surveillance: A techno-criminological critique

Published onMay 26, 2022
The de-realization of Black bodies in an era of mass digital surveillance: A techno-criminological critique
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The de-realization of Black bodies in an era of mass digital surveillance: A techno-criminological critique
Description

This article describes the ways in which existing methods of dataveillance and big data collection have contributed to the current de-realization of Black bodies. In the present or ultramodern era, de-realization consists of datafication (i.e. digital profiling techniques and life mining strategies) in support of techno-crime control policy. The process of de-realization both de-politicizes Black identities and de-personalizes the lived experience of Blackness. In order to make explicit our thesis, section one proposes a techno-criminological theory of de-realization. The theory explains how the racialized construction of surveillance in the current age is mediated by the algorithmic logic of pre-crime and the asymmetric rationale of post-criminology. In order to situate our overall theorizing, section two explains how Black bodies have historically been the subject of excessive and invasive forms of de-realization. This history includes slavery and visceral forms of de-realization (e.g. the technologies of branding), as well as political opposition to Civil Rights and volatile forms of de-realization (e.g. the technologies of suspicion). In the present era, the de-realization of Black bodies consists of the mass digital surveillance of social movements (i.e. bodies of activist social change), including Black Lives Matter (BLM), that are policed through the technologies of information analytics. Section three speculates on the criminological fall-out stemming from present day manifestations of de-realization. This speculation emphasizes how history, theory, and culture are relevant to historicizing the administration of injustice in the ultramodern age of digital reality construction.

 

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