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Surveillance, suspicion and stigma within the ‘war on terror’ context

By Tina Patel


This paper considers the impact of surveillance within a ‘War on Terror’ context, especially on those marked as ‘hyper-visible’ (Khoury 2009). This refers to those seen as being of South Asian or Arabic heritage and of the Muslim faith – or, what I term here ‘brown bodies’, who are marked out as a ‘problem group’ or as a member of a ‘suspect community’, which it is argued, are labels that are applied on a regular basis, despite any actual evidence of criminal behaviour. In particular, ethnic bias in the development and application of deviant labels (i.e. anti-British, enemy within, illegal immigrant, sympathiser of terrorist activity, radicalised student, etc.) and everyday ‘citizen surveillance practices’ (Finn 2011, 413) are critically examined in terms of possible underlying social and political motivations. The second half of the paper reports on some of the research findings of a case study which sought to examine the perceptions of brown bodies of ethnically biased surveillance and the impact that this has on their own self-perception and spatial freedoms

Topics: health_and_wellbeing
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