Urban Surveillance: From Concentration Camps to Disneyland
Surveillance takes many shapes and forms and the experience of surveillance is often most intense in urban centers. One of the historical roots of surveillance can be connected to the modern information base of tracking individuals for economic and political reasons. Michel Foucault comments in more detail on one of the earliest examples of a surveillance machine found in Jeremy Bentham's "Panopticon". Surveillance has now become the solution of choice to ward off urban fears and insecurities in today's megacities. Though its antecedents can be traced via Foucault's account of panoptic discipline which walled in society's outcasts for rehabilitation, the following essay explores the shift to the urban panopticism of today where society's outcasts are subtly filtered out of "public" view. Juxtaposing a sociological account of the concentration camp with urban Disneyfication fosters a greater understanding of how surveillance creates certain categories of citizenship. In particular, how urban surveillance intensifies Walter Benjamin's description of the flâneur who often experience the brunt of surveillance's filtering power.
Keywords: Surveillance, Urban, Disney, Flaneur, Foucault, Panopticon
Dr. Timothy Stanley
Doctoral Student, The School of Arts, Histories and Cultures Religions and Theology, The University of Manchester