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Dark Matters: On the Surveillance of Blackness

4.41  ·  Rating details ·  197 ratings  ·  15 reviews
In Dark Matters Simone Browne locates the conditions of blackness as a key site through which surveillance is practiced, narrated, and resisted. She shows how contemporary surveillance technologies and practices are informed by the long history of racial formation and by the methods of policing black life under slavery, such as branding, runaway slave notices, and lantern ...more
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published October 2nd 2015 by Duke University Press Books (first published September 7th 2015)
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Sara Salem
Jul 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Amazing book on race and surveillance that traces how Black bodies in the US have been central to surveillance for centuries. A must read! And she uses a lot of my bae, Fanon :)
Oct 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
In the conclusion of Dark Matters, Simone Browne asks the rhetorical question she has gestured toward all along: "could there be some potential in going about unknown or unremarkable, and perhaps unbothered, where CCTV, camera-enabled devices, facial recognition, and other computer vision technologies are in use?"

In Browne's interdisciplinary study on modern and historical surveillance, she draws attention to the relationship between oppressive surveillance practices in the context of chattel
Oct 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing
One of the best reads about the surveillance of black people and blackness. To hard to read it by yourself. I will definitely advise you to talk with your friends after reading it. It's heavy and hard to just read it and not think about it all the time. You can see Fanon's footprint in it and a great analysis of his book Black skin, white Mask through the book.
Highly Recommended people!
Mtume Gant
Aug 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
Provactive argument and great addition to the ongoing discussion of how Blackness exists in America's seemingly contradictory consumer but also surveillance world. Wish the book was a bit more exhaustive, I was constantly left with many questions, especially in wondering how the author perceived the existence of her historical findings (especially around slave branding) in contemporary society, so I actually wanted MORE. It also feels at time a little scatterbrained but I think thats because of ...more
Mar 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Browne traces the surveillance of blackness from past to present. While at times infuriating, the book is important. What’s also great about Browne is that there is an element of hope in her writing as each chapter concludes with a description of an art instillation that “talks back” against these practices.
Jul 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
Compelling counter-analysis of the panopticon and what this concept hides from view when it comes to surveillance. Particularly the analysis of the plantation and the slave ship as spaces of incarceration helps to construe a more nuanced view of how space, surveillance and racial stigmatisation work together in an American context.
Mike Mena
Dec 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely brilliant. Academic but accessible. Intellectually profound but highly entertaining. Will assign to students in the future. (Also, will be of interest to Foucaultian scholars.)
Nov 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Not only is Browne brilliant, but also funny unexpected ways. (Comment about the lantern in the epilogue? Priceless.) 17/10 would recommend as required reading.
Julia  K
Jan 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
amazing, brilliant etc.
Mills College Library
305.89607 B884 2015
Derek Fenner
Dec 30, 2016 rated it really liked it
A book that does exactly what it has set out to do: " to situate the dark, blackness, and the archive of slavery and its afterlife as a way to trouble and expand understandings of surveillance" (p.164).
Nov 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: s-tier
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Apr 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Really engaging and important read in the way that blackness has been at the center of surveillance technologies and practices, dating back to the transatlantic slave trade. Brown draws from a rich mixture of textual evidence - historical documents (ship manifests, diaries, photographs, advertisements etc), technological devices and practices (did you know that there are eBay auctions for slave paraphernalia such as branding irons?), film, literature, and so forth. The result is a study that ...more
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