Incoded counter-conduct: What the incarcerated can teach us about resisting mass surveillance

  • Jessa Lingel University of Pennsylvania
  • Aram Sinnreich American University
Keywords: surveillance, technological activism, prisons, social justice

Abstract

This paper reviews penal history in order to consider forms of resistance to mass surveillance. Because experiences of surveillance are endemic to incarcerated life, identifying tactics of protest among these populations provides valuable insights for potential forms of counter-conduct in other circumstances of ubiquitous monitoring. We introduce the term incodification as a means of describing conditions of continuous surveillance ingrained into infrastructures of everyday life, even as these conditions give rise to tactics of resistance. We focus on three forms of protest: hunger strikes, alternate communication networks and viral dance videos, drawing on Foucault’s theory of askesis in order to develop our understanding of incodification. Our objective in introducing this term, and with our analysis as a whole, is to provoke and promote theoretical and activist projects that both address and subvert infrastructures of incodification.

Published
2016-04-18
How to Cite
Lingel, J., & Sinnreich, A. (2016). Incoded counter-conduct: What the incarcerated can teach us about resisting mass surveillance. First Monday, 21(5). https://doi.org/10.5210/fm.v21i5.6172
Section
Articles