Home / Events / Human Agency, Digital Society and Data-Intensive Surveillance


Human Agency, Digital Society and Data-Intensive Surveillance

22 may 2023 09:00 - 23 may 2023 17:30
Institut d'études avancées de Paris:
17 quai d'Anjou,
75004, Paris

Symposium co organized by Anders Albrechtslund, Professor of Information Studies at Aarhus University and Director of the Center for Surveillance Studies, 2022-2023 Paris IAS fellow, Rosamunde Van Brakel (Vrije Universiteit Brussel) and Olivier Aïm (Sorbonne University).

This event is generously supported by the Paris Institute for Advanced Study, the Surveillance Studies Network, and the VUB Chair in Surveillance Studies.


Symposium in person. Free entry with mandatory registration via the form at the bottom of the page. 


Surveillance is pervasive in contemporary societies, driven by massive data sourcing, interoperable infrastructures, and artificial intelligence (AI) in the form of digital innovations such as algorithmic decision-making, automated facial recognition systems, tracking and sensing devices, and advanced healthcare technologies.

The ambition of the symposium is to explore the interplay between human agency and data- intensive surveillance and to characterize contemporary challenges and opportunities for users, policymakers, and technology development across societies, traditions and languages. Building on the diverse and wide-ranging research in surveillance and digital societies, the aim of the symposium is to bring about a coalescence of research results and dialogue between disciplines and sectors.


Day 1: May 22 2023

9:00-9:30 Arrival and registration

9:30-9:45: Welcome address
Anders Albrechtslund (Aarhus University)

9:45-11.00: Keynote
Vita Peacock (King’s College London):The temporalities of privacy activists versus the timelessness of surveillance (chair: Rosamunde van Brakel)

This lecture draws on ongoing research with privacy activists in Germany to explore conceptions of non-monitoring as allowing for growth and change, in contrast to the temporal immobilities that can accompany surveillance infrastructures. The lecture places these sensibilities in relation to memories of authoritarian surveillance, that provide collective knowledge of the possibility of function creep, and thus a persistent impetus for self-definition with regard to acts of monitoring.

11:00-11.30 : Coffee break

Session 1 (chair: Kirstie Ball)
Stine Ballegaard and Astrid Meyer (Aarhus University): Designing Ethical Infrastructure of Surveillance
Jasmin Dall'Agnola (The George Washington University): Lara Croft. Doing Fieldwork Under Surveillance

13:00-14:00 Lunch

Session 2 (chair: Jasmin Dall'Agnola)
Renée Ridgway
(Aarhus University): Subjectivities of search or Agencies of anonymity? The black box (Google) versus the black bloc (Tor)
Christian Ulrik Andersen (Aarhus University): Testing the Black Box: Material Aesthetics in Contemporary Art and Digital Culture
Jorge Campos (Leiden University Law School) and Kirstie Ball (University of St Andrews):  ‘There’s gotta be some perks in it, otherwise no point in doin’ it at all, is there?’ Exploring the normative dilemmas of data donation

15:30-16:00 Coffee break

Session 3 (chair: Astrid Meyer)
Lior Volinz
(Vrije Universiteit Brussel): Data-led urbanism: On the perils of participatory surveillance in local governance
Eileen Murphy (Copenhagen Business School): Service Capital: Visibility, Power and Disinterested Securitisation
Lucas Melgaço (Vrije Universiteit Brussel): Participatory Mapping Platforms: Balancing Human Agency, Openness and Oversight in the Reporting of Everyday Urban Issues

Day 2: May 23 2023

9:00-9:30 Coffee

9:30-10.45 Keynote
Kirstie Ball (University of St Andrews): Connection spaces: Surveilled subjectivity in depth (chair: Anders Albrechtslund)

Thought about the surveilled subject establishes that there is an oppositionality between the body as captured in data and as it is lived. It is argued that where the body’s interior and exterior coincide, a political economy of interiority extracts value from the body in terms of emotions, intentions, volitions, or through the presence of fluids, sounds, or objects.  The latest developments in neurosurveillance, and correspondingly, attentional and cognitive privacy, signal how the deep interior surfaces of the body are now contested within surveillance assemblages. This talk will discuss how the surveilled body is one of multiple surfaces beyond the skin. Starting with Merleau Ponty’s Chiasm, and drawing on empirical research focusing on the workplace, the phenomenon of noticing is framed as a key connection space with surveillance.

10:45-11:15 Coffee break

Session 4 (chair: Vita Peacock)
Lander Govaerts
(Vrije Universiteit Brussel): Cybernetic policing in late capitalism: Reflections on human agency, police power and subjectivation
Matheus Viegas Ferrari (Université Paris 8 / Universidade Federal da Bahia): Surveillance and prevention Technologies in ‘Paris 2024’: What belongs to the Olympics?
Gavin Smith (Australian National University): The Elephant in the Gaming Room: The Case of Facial Recognition Technology and Gaming Culture in Australia

13:00-14:00 Lunch

Session 5 (chair: Gavin Smith)
Marc Schuilenburg
(Erasmus University Rotterdam): On psychopower: hypernudges and human agency
Jan Czarnocki (KU Leuven): Containing Predictive Tokens in the EU – Mapping the Laws Against Digital Surveillance
Margot Hanly (Cornell Tech): Brain Business: Human Agency and Autonomy in Commercial Brain-Computer Interfaces

15:30-16:00 Coffee break

Session 6 (chair: Christian Ulrik Andersen)
Yann Bruna
(Université Paris-Nanterre): Peer surveillance practices through the use of location-based social platforms at teen age
Liisa A. Mäkinen (University of Turku): Giving up when faced with smartphone surveillance – or creating agency through information, knowledge, and action?
A. Soltani (Université Lyon 2): Surveillance, Sousveillance and Counter-surveillance in the Occupied Palestinian Territories: the publication of online content in the context of occupation, between censorship and adaptations

Date dépassée
The power of human agency in data-intensive surveillance
01 September 2022 - 30 June 2023
23 May 2023 17:30
Anders Albrechtslund
Conferences and workshops