This is an international network of scholars who share an interest in collaborating in the study of surveillance from theological and religious perspectives. [List of current members.]
In early 2016 we secured funding from the Arts & Humanities Research Council for a two-year project to hold three workshops as the first activities of the Network.
Positioned with the field of surveillance studies, this network takes an inter-disciplinary approach that includes, but is in no way limited to, the disciplines of theology, religious studies, ethics, philosophy, history, sociology, criminology, international relations, and information technology studies.
The more specific aims of the network are to:
:: convene occasional seminars, including online events
:: encourage research by individual scholars
:: secure funding for collaborative projects
:: contribute to informing policy-makers within religious communities and wider societies.
For current purposes we understand surveillance as ‘the focused, systematic and routine attention to personal details for purposes of influence, management, protection or direction’ (David Lyon, Surveillance Studies: An Overview (2007), p. 14). In this light questions of human flourishing, personhood and identity come centre stage but are integrally related to such diverse topics as, amongst others, data protection, privacy and social justice.
Faith communities are, of course, composed not only of people who experience surveillance but practitioners too. This may be in professional capacities but might also include the direct practices of congregations who gather data in various ways.
It is our belief that there is a rich seam of theological traditions and practices that can contribute to the critical discussions of surveillance in contemporary contexts. Similarly, there is yet little attention turned towards the surveillance practices of faith groups.
The coordinators of the network are:
Eric Stoddart, Associate Director of the Centre for the Study of Religion & Politics, which is based at the School of Divinity, University of St Andrews, Scotland.
Susanne Wigorts Yngvesson, Associate Professor, Stockholm School of Theology, Sweden.