Surveillance, Authoritarianism and ‘Imperial Effects’ in Pakistan

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Mahvish Ahmad Rabia Mehmood


To speak of ‘Surveillance and the Global Turn to Authoritarianism’ presupposes a moment with little connection to that which has gone before, or places outside of North America and Europe. While Trump and Brexit inaugurate a consequential shift, even rupture, in the political terrain, we must not lose sight of places and peoples where American Wars – with European support – were overtly and covertly waged in the decades preceding this ‘global turn’, nor the fate of these places today. We argue that the sustained transfer of sophisticated surveillance technologies, as part and parcel of both direct military assault and more expansive support for security states, has had lasting imperial effects outside imperial centres that reverberate today. We take our point of departure in Pakistan – the site of hundreds of drone bombardments under Obama, one of the top recipients of US military aid, and the largest known recipient of funding from the National Security Agency (NSA) – to argue that ’global turns’ must not forget the rest of the world, and Surveillance Studies may have far to go before it fully addresses its Eurocentrism.

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AHMAD, Mahvish; MEHMOOD, Rabia. Surveillance, Authoritarianism and ‘Imperial Effects’ in Pakistan. Surveillance & Society, [S.l.], v. 15, n. 3/4, p. 506-513, aug. 2017. ISSN 1477-7487. Available at: <>. Date accessed: 17 oct. 2017.