Landscape and conflict in the age of digital surveillance. Participatory Walking through the surveilled cities


  • Valentina Erminia Albanese Department of Law, Economy and Culture, University of Insubria, Como, Italy


The securitarian paradigms, developed in recent decades, react to social problems by controlling and monitoring the population in order to accumulate personal data useful for analysing and promoting new needs. Surveillance capitalism finds the opportunity in cities to control and collect a gigantic amount of data from the unconscious or unaware surveilled, the citizens all. The city adapted to the rules of this contemporary form of capitalism has favoured the implementation of surveillance and control of urban space through – especially but not only – digital technologies. There is thus a new emphasis on the visual in the politics of the street and the utopian panoptic device theorised by Jeremy Bentham in the punitive city (Cohen, 1979). The strategy followed by states is to create a visually pleasing urban space in which invisible or inconspicuous surveillance devices contribute to the same process of space and landscape production. The aim of this article is to understand the motives and effects on the landscape of digital surveillance policies in the urban context with particular reference to three important themes: marginality, spectacle and surveillance. To conclude the theoretical reflections, a didactic experiment is proposed such as participatory walks useful to observe surveillance tools in the urban landscape and to reason, in cooperative learning, about their use and the impact they have on cities and people’s daily lives.


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