Borders, benefits, and biomedicine: surveillance and social justice.

Join cyber security expert Prof Bill Buchanan, Chairman of the CCBE Working Party on Surveillance Iain Mitchell QC and Dr Eric Stoddart, Associate Director of the Centre for the Study of Religion and Politics at St Andrews University, to explore the issues.

Presented by the Church of Scotland as part of the Edinburgh International Science Festival.

Tuesday 4 April 2017, 8pm – 9.30pm. Summerhall, Edinburgh. Tickets £8.50 (Concs. £6.50)  Bookings.

 

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Special Issue of ‘Surveillance & Society’ on Religion

The call for papers for this special issue on surveillance and religion is now open.

Submission deadline is 1 August 2017 for publication in early 2018, more details here.

The issue will be guest edited by Eric Stoddart (St Andrews, Scotland) and Susanne Wigorts Yngvesson (Stockholm, Sweden). Possible research areas might include (but are not limited to):

·      Religions under surveillance.
·      Religious practice and identity as surveillance.
·      Religions consuming surveillance.
·      Religious ethics and surveillance.
·      Religion and surveillance in films.
·      Religion and surveillance in novels.
·      Religion and surveillance in art.
·      Religion in the political discourses of surveillance.

This special issue will be one of the outputs of the AHRC funding of the Surveillance and Religion Network in 2016 and 2017.

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Religions Consuming Surveillance – Public Lecture

Will using surveillance make good religion better and bad religion worse?

Monday 20th March 2017; 7.30pm.

Quaker Meeting House, 7 Victoria Terrace, Edinburgh EH1 2JL

Cost: Free, but booking essential. Tickets available at: https://surrelig_edinburgh.eventbrite.co.uk

Speaker: Dr Eric Stoddart  |Coordinator, Surveillance & Religion Network | Associate Director, Centre for the Study of Religion & Politics | School of Divinity  | University of St Andrews

This public lecture is aimed at a general audience of people from any religious faith tradition, or none.

Eric Stoddart has been teaching and writing about digital, and specifically surveillance, technologies, for the past 10 years.  In this talk Dr Stoddart will explore the ways that religious groups draw upon surveillance technologies such as congregational data management, self-monitoring of spiritual disciplines, or CCTV deployed upon (and within) religious buildings. He will consider how these technologies shape their users and what that might mean for faith communities. He will suggest that religious groups need to find resources from within their respective traditions in order to employ surveillance in ways that are life-affirming and not, unintentionally, counter to human flourishing.

A question and answer session will follow his 40 minute talk which begins at 7.30pm.

This event is an activity of the Surveillance & Religion Network, funded by the Arts & Humanities Research Council.

The event will be audio-recorded for later distribution.

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Religions Consuming Surveillance

Faith communities use surveillance technologies to protect themselves and to perform their commitment to loving care. Surveillance technologies are shaping those who use and encounter these digital systems. Using and being shaped by technologies means religions are consuming surveillance.

The Surveillance and Religion Network, funded by the Arts & Humanities Research Council, aims to advance understanding in faith communities and the public sphere, including the academy. We are convening a workshop in central Edinburgh, Scotland, 20 – 22 March 2017 to bring together faith practitioners, theologians and surveillance studies scholars. (More details here.)

Faith communities understand the importance of freedom of worship. In some places this has to be done under the threat of harm. At one end of a spectrum there might be low-level vandalism and occasional harassment. Some religious believers, however, face physical intimidation and, at the extreme end of the spectrum, loss of life and destruction of cherished sacred buildings. Using surveillance equipment to protect, detect and deter is legitimated in different ways depending on the severity of the threat.

Faith communities appreciate the value of caring for people. Knowing who needs care, when, and in what ways is a challenge that looks very different in a group of 30 than one of 3,000 worshippers. Keeping track of individual or family needs can be made easier using software to gather and analyse personal information

Core questions of this workshop, the second in a series of three, are: (1) How are religious groups using surveillance? (2) In what ways are they legitimating their use of surveillance? (3) In what ways are religious groups being sold surveillance by commercial companies? (4) How are religious groups being shaped by surveillance? (5) What might religious groups contribute to public discussions around the ethics of surveillance?

Participation in the workshop

The workshop takes place during the afternoon of Monday 20th March 2017, all day Tuesday 21st, and the morning of Wednesday 22ndThere is no workshop registration fee: the facilities as well as light refreshments at the workshop, including lunch on Wednesday, are funded by an Arts & Humanities Research Council grant. Participants from outside Edinburgh will, however, need to make their own accommodation and travel arrangements.

There are two ways to participate in the workshop:

  1. We invite leaders in faith communities and theologians to propose a short talk (10 minutes) or a more substantial academic paper (30 minutes) they would like to give at the workshop in March 2017.  (Where a tradition distinguishes between ‘lay’ and ‘ordained’ we welcome proposals from both. ‘Theologians’ may, or may not, have a formal academic affiliation.)  Talks should focus on the core questions but we welcome contributions that open up new areas.
  2. We invite leaders in faith communities to join in the workshop discussions without themselves making a presentation.

Next step

If you would like to give a short talk or a more substantial paper to the workshop please send a short proposal (not more than 300 words) to the workshop organiser, Dr Eric Stoddart, es61@st-andrews.ac.uk not later than 10th January 2017. Please indicate your position within a particular faith tradition and whether you would like to attend the whole, or just part, of the workshop.

If you would like attend the workshop – but not give a talk  – please write to the workshop organiser, Dr Eric Stoddart, es61@st-andrews.ac.uk not later than 10th January 2017. Please explain (in no more than 500 words) your reason for applying, including some details about your encounter with surveillance and religion. Places are limited, and priority will be given to those offering a short talk or more substantial paper, but we welcome those who will have contributions to make to the extensive discussions during the workshop.

The audio recording of the public lecture that was part of the first workshop in Birmingham in October 2016 is now available online. ‘Why is everyday surveillance a religious issue?’ – Prof. David Lyon.

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Public Lecture

Why is everyday surveillance a religious issue? Prof. David Lyon

This free public lecture on 17th October 2016 in central Birmingham, UK,  is aimed at a general audience of people from any religious faith tradition, or none.

Lecture now available online – click here.

David Lyon has been, for decades, one of the world’s leading academics researching, writing and speaking at public events about the implications of everyday surveillance. In this talk Prof. Lyon will seek to make important connections between the concerns of religious faith and how surveillance is practiced by states and corporations. He will suggest how the resources of faith traditions, particularly how they value the human person and human flourishing, might offer concrete responses to the often controversial watching directed at citizens by sophisticated digital technologies.

A question and answer session will follow his 40 minute talk which begins at 7.30pm.

The event will be audio-recorded for later distribution.

Speaker: David Lyon FRSC FAcSS l Director, Surveillance Studies Centre; Principal Investigator, ‘Big Data Surveillance’ team project 2015-2020. Professor of Sociology, Professor of Law,  Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada.

This event is an activity of the Surveillance & Religion Network, funded by the Arts & Humanities Research Council.

WHEN
Monday, October 17, 2016 from 7:30 PM to 9:00 PM (BST)
WHERE
Parish Church of St Martin-in-the-Bull-Ring Birmingham – Edgbaston Street, Birmingham, B5 5BB – View Map

Link to Eventbrite for booking free tickets.

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Religion, security and surveillance

Faith traditions understand the Divine gaze, Divine assistance, and human relations in different ways. These religious themes relate directly to contemporary issues of national and personal security to which surveillance technologies are a significant response.

The Surveillance and Religion Network, funded by the Arts & Humanities Research Council, aims to advance understanding in faith communities and the public sphere, including the academy. We are convening a workshop in Birmingham, UK, 17 – 19 October 2016 to bring together faith practitioners, theologians and surveillance studies scholars. (More details here.)

Theological ideas of Divine omniscience, omnipotence and Providence, along with political and social ethics, intersect with 21st century strategies of data-gathering, profiling, and pre-emptive intervention. Faith traditions have contributions to make to public debate regarding the widespread use of surveillance technologies to address security concerns.

In some cases it is religious identity that marks people for more intensive, and arguably intrusive, surveillance.  More widely, the ways in which surveillance systems shape social relationships demands critical examination.

Participation in the workshop.

We invite leaders in faith communities and theologians to propose a short talk (10 minutes) or a more substantial academic paper (30 minutes) they would like to give at the workshop in October.  (Where a tradition distinguishes between ‘lay’ and ‘ordained’ we welcome proposals from both. ‘Theologians’ may, or may not, have a formal academic affiliation.)  The aim of a talk or paper could be to unpack some aspects of how the speaker’s own faith tradition interprets theological themes that intersect with contemporary surveillance concerns such as privacy, trust, or risk. Alternatively, a talk might focus on the experience of the speaker’s faith community when its members encounter surveillance-security systems (e.g., in airline passenger profiling).

The workshop takes place during the afternoon of Monday 17th October, all day Tuesday 18th, and the morning of Wednesday 18th. There is no workshop registration fee: the facilities as well as light refreshments at the workshop, including lunch on Wednesday, are funded by an Arts & Humanities Research Council grant. Participants from outside Birmingham will, however, need to make their own accommodation arrangements.

Preferential B&B rates at the workshop venue are available for bookings made before 31st August 2016. Details on booking will be provided to participants but single occupancy B&B rate for 17th October is £63 per room, for 18th October is £85 per room. There is no requirement that participants take accommodation at the venue.

Next step.

If you would like to give a short talk or a more substantial paper to the workshop please send a short proposal (not more than 300 words) to the workshop organiser, Dr Eric Stoddart, es61@st-andrews.ac.uk not later than 24th August 2016. Please indicate your position within a particular faith tradition and whether you would like to attend the whole, or just part, of the workshop.

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Funding for Surveillance & Religion Network

Funding has been secured for a new Surveillance and Religion Research Network based at the School of Divinity, University of St Andrews, led by Dr Eric Stoddart (St Andrews) as Principal Investigator and Dr Susanne Wigorts Yngvesson (Stockholm School of Theology) as Co-Investigator.

The Arts & Humanities Research Council is funding this research network that has the principal aim of bringing together researchers and practitioners from disciplines as diverse as sociology, criminology, theology and religious studies to pool knowledge, share ideas and generate new research initiatives around surveillance and religion.

David Lyon, Director of the Surveillance Studies Centre at Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario welcomed the announcement:

“The excellent news of research funding augurs very well for our fuller, deeper understanding of religious and cultural meanings of the very rapid growth of manifold forms of surveillance today. My warmest congratulations!”

Esther D. Reed, Associate Professor Theological Ethics, University of Exeter also greeted the news:

“The increasing use of surveillance technology by governments, businesses, universities, and many other institutions, has given rise to many new moral issues and conflicts. The Surveillance and Religion Network is set to become an important centre for all who want to shape and engage debate in this area.”

Eric Stoddart explained the Network’s activities that will take place over the next two years: “Three workshops are planned in order that participants may provoke and fuel original ways of thinking about the interplay between surveillance and religion.”

One symposium will focus on security. A second will focus on the use of surveillance by religious communities. A third will unpack the wider contribution of religious ethics to 21st century surveillance. The workshops will generate proposals for specific research projects and, through the participation of stakeholders from religious communities, the proposals will be grounded in the issues experienced by people in their everyday lives.

Established and new scholars will be joined at the workshops by leaders from faith communities (including, but not limited to, Jewish, Muslim and Christian) in the U.K. and also from other countries, such as Sweden. Each workshop will have a public lecture – later to be made available online.

Susanne Wigorts Yngvesson, Associate Professor of Theological Ethics at Stockholm School of Theology acknowledged the innovative nature of this network:

“It is a great opportunity to develop these issues which has not been much researched before. This project will open new important issues about contemporary political and religious questions, not least Human Rights issues as well as Inter-religious and theological ones.”

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2nd Annual Surveillance & Religion Lecture, 12 April 2016

Tonight I’m giving this lecture at St Andrews, ‘The Common Gaze: The Common Good and 21st Century Surveilllance.’

It will be streamed live on Periscope (then available for 24 hours) beginning at 5.30pm UK time today. (Follow me on Twitter @es61andrews to get the link for the stream when it’s about to start.)

Here’s a foretaste:

Surveillance is adversely affecting the Common Good. Freedom of expression is chilled. Already-marginalized groups are not viewed sympathetically through misrepresentation in media discourses interwoven with which are surveillance techniques that permit the monitoring of the distanced and problematic Other. Selective, surveillance data then reinforces negative one-dimensional stereotypes.

This lecture considers the chilling effect upon writers, journalists and activists before turning to examine the conjunction of misrepresentation and surveillance directed towards two largely vilified groups: people on welfare and Muslims. We will draw on Roman Catholic Social Teaching to propose a constructive theological appraisal of the Common Gaze, that requires a rotation of 90 degrees in our framing of God’s watching: a turn to surveillance from the Cross….

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Visit of Swedish Surveillance & Religion scholar

Susanne Wigorts Yngvesson (Stockholm School of Theology) writes of her recent visit 8-18 April 2015 to collaborate with me on our ‘Surveillance & Religion Network’ project.

SusanneWY“To get the opportunity to spend a couple of weeks in St Andrews was terrific. The lovely surroundings and Eric Stoddart’s exceptional role as my host gave the right atmosphere for creative research and meetings with colleges at St Mary’s College. The visit was a combination of three things.

First, Eric and I had the opportunity to develop and work on an application for funding of workshops in the international and interdisciplinary network Religion & Surveillance. We believe we have found an area of research that is not much developed, but that is vitally important in relation to religious communities, existential questions and human rights.

Second, I was invited to give two lectures related to surveillance. The themes were “To See the World as it Appears. Vision, the Gaze and the Camera as Technological Eye” and “Mirror, mirror on the wall – self-images and objectification”. It was most valuable for me to discuss one of my published articles and one work in progress, with students and researchers in other fields of theology. We broadcasted the second lecture on the new Twitter-tool Periscope, as a test in line with our surveillance studies. Around 200 people participated from different parts of the world (although, to be honest, we aren’t able to tell how many of them connected for more than few minutes – but hopefully they did). Of course we also had an audience in St Andrews.

Thirdly, in the spare time, between the meetings and lectures, I had the chance to work on some of the articles I have not found the time to do back in Stockholm. The library at St Mary’s and the librarian were fantastic. I adore these spaces where I can feel I am just a part of hundreds of years of academic traditions and thoughts. And I hope to be back soon!”  SWY

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Recruiting for Focus Groups

I’m currently recruiting participants (in and around Edinburgh) for focus groups  about surveillance and Christian faith. More details here.

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