Dark Matters: On the Surveillance of Blackness
Notes on Surveillance Studies: Through the Door of No Return
Chapter 1 considers the Panopticon (1786) and the plan of the slave ship Brooks (1789) for what these two pieces of architecture disclose about surveillance, race, and the production of knowledge. This chapter explores black feminist theorizing of surveillance and the operation of disciplinary and sovereign forms of power over black life under slavery by looking at advertisements for runaway slaves and the census, as well as a set of rules from the 1800s for the management of slaves on an East Texas plantation. Drawing on novelist Caryl Phillips’s short story “The Cargo Rap,” visual artist Robin Rhode’s Pan’s Opticon, and artist Adrian Piper’s video installation What It’s Like, What It Is #3, this chapter also examines the ways that black expressive practices articulate a critique of the surveillance of blackness.