Sunday, October 19, 2008

Go On! "Scenes of Secrecy"

(Go On! is an occasional item on symposia of interest.) On Friday and Saturday, Duke University's Department of Cultural Anthropology and Human Rights Center hosted a conference entitled "Scenes of Secrecy: Interdisciplinary Inquiries on Suspicion, Intelligence and Security." With panelists from departments ranging from Asian and Middle Eastern Studies to Literature to Cultural Anthropology and paper titles such as "Recuperating 'America': Homosexuality, National Fantasy, and 'the War on Terror'" and "Minerva and the Militarization of Anthropological Space", the program promised to present unique perspectives on issues of interest to our readers:
At this moment of polarizing conflict on the complex frontiers of global war, security defines and mobilizes the defense of state sovereignty against multifarious domestic and transnational insurgencies. This conference takes part in the growing public scrutiny of covert methods employed by states and other bodies to gather intelligence — from surveillance and censorship, to detention and torture, to simulation and preemption — that often prioritize security over human rights and even human life. Of special concern are the ways in which individuals and groups become objects of suspicion; how their privacy, integrity, and safety are protected or violated; and how suspicion and vigilance ramify in popular and political culture. Across regional and historical contexts, the conference traces connections between geo-political terrains of invisible governance, and experiences of terror and suspicion that fuel political secrecy as well as the pursuit of transparency.
I was sorry not to be able to attend in person, but grateful to conference organizer Prof. Elizabeth Anne Davis for presenting a talk I'd drafted based on my recent article, "A Global Approach to Secret Evidence: How Human Rights Law Can Reform Our Immigration System" (posted about here).

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