American Studies
American Studies

Dr. Torin Monahan to speak at graduate student symposium March 27

Fri, March 21, 2014

Dr. Torin Monahan will be presenting a talk at 5pm on March 27 in Garrison 1.126 about the Department of Homeland Security's "fusion centers" and their effects on the insecure subject.

Dr. Monahan is Associate Professor in the Department of Communication Studies at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. He's the author of the 2011 Surveillance Studies Book Prize winning text Surveillance in the Time of Insecurity (2010) and has published a number of works on surveillance and security programs and their relationship to social inequality. Dr. Monahan's current NSF-funded collaborative research project analyzes data-sharing practices through Department of Homeland Security "fusion centers." 

An abstract of Dr. Monahan's talk:

The voracious collection and promiscuous sharing of data define contemporary security organizations. While the seemingly disembodied, intelligent, and passive nature of new surveillance techniques appears to be less prone to bias or abuse, such techniques are infused with interpretive actions that afford racial, religious, and political profiling. Drawing upon empirical research on Department of Homeland Security (DHS) “fusion centers,” this talk will explore the politics of emergent security paradigms. Fusion-center officials propose to fight distributed networks of criminals or terrorists with similarly distributed digital networks that overcome traditional jurisdictional boundaries. Through their intelligence activities, though, fusion centers perform an erasure, or a selective non-generation, of data about their own practices, thereby creating zones of opacity that shield them from accountability. This is concerning particularly because fusion centers are rapidly becoming primary portals for law-enforcement investigations and the model for information sharing by security agencies more broadly.

Presented by: the American Studies Graduate Events Committee & The Robert S. Strauss Center for International Security and Law. With special thanks to the University of Texas Graduate Student Assembly.

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