polis: a collective blog about cities worldwide

Giorgio Agamben on Surveillance

"It is only an apparent paradox that the harmless citizen of postindustrial democracies (the Bloom, as it has been effectively suggested he be called), who readily does everything that he is asked to do, inasmuch as he leaves his everyday gestures and his health, his amusements and his occupations, his diet and his desires, to be commanded and controlled in the smallest detail by apparatuses, is also considered by power — perhaps precisely because of this — as a potential terrorist. While a new European norm imposes biometric apparatuses on all its citizens by developing and perfecting anthropometric technologies invented in the nineteenth century in order to identify recidivist criminals (from mug shots to fingerprinting), surveillance by means of video cameras transforms the public space of the city into the interior of an immense prison. In the eyes of authority — and maybe rightly so — nothing looks more like a terrorist than the ordinary man."

Giorgio Agamben, from "What is an Apparatus?" 2006

This is part of a collection of quotes related to cities. They don't necessarily reflect our views, just topics of interest. We welcome you to add others.

Credits: Google Street View image of Banksy's 'One Nation Under CCTV' from Mail Online.

+ share