Literature on themes investigating intersections of information, technology and society
|1. Empire and Information.
Cambridge University Press (2006).
In this path breaking work Professor Bayly tries to unravel the relationship between Empire building and the role information. Though numerically much smaller, Britishers were able to govern vast tracts of territory and people by putting in place a sophisticated network of information collection, classification and dissemination apparatus. The harkaras, itinerant businessmen, political secretaries and spies became nodes of this network.
Prof Bayly asserts that however it is precisely because of the ways in which information and intelligence was garnered and construed, that it, not only contributed to abortive attempts to colonize lands situated on the fringes of the Raj but also played a major role in the seemingly ‘sudden’ and ‘unexpected’ Indian Revolt of 1857.
2. Imprint of the Raj.
Pan; New Ed edition (2004).
When in 1858, William Herschel, a Magistrate in Jangipur, an obscure village in rural Bengal took Rajyadhar Konai’s hand to dip it into a ewer full of home made oil ink, before making an imprint on the other side of a land deed, or patta, little did he know that this act would revolutionize the way authorities of the state, would see a finger and its print.
In writing the Imprint of the Raj, Medical Historian Chandak Sengoopta has weaved a masterful tale about colonizers and the colonized. Rich in till now unknown archival sources Sengoopta’s work throws new light about the origins of an universal practice of marking a criminal.
3. Surveillance after September 11 (Themes for the 21st Century)
Blackwell Publishing Limited (2003) [ILLUSTRATED].
What were the social consequences of 9/11? What were the ways in which sorting practices were reorganized at national borders, the world over, particularly in the West? Rhetoric apart, what was the real essence of changes in law regarding terrorism and immigration, in America and other nations? How do the new technologies, which excel in sorting and profiling huge amounts of data, operate? Why is it important to analyze the social effects of the war against terror?
David Lyon, Professor of Sociology at Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario, addresses crucial issues regarding the changes influenced by 9/11 and it’s after math. contests the promise of War Against Terror that terrorism can be forestalled. Lyon suggests that measures introduced in the wake of 9/11 have result in far reaching consequences that help undermine democratic participation and social trust.
4. The Electronic Eye: The Rise of Surveillance Society
David Lyon. University of Minnesota Press (1994) (Paperback).
In this remarkable work David Lyon collects, collates and analyzes prominent themes on and about surveillance vis a vis Western Societies. He argues that Surveillance assemblage in Western Societies is neither an Orwellian nightmare nor a Utilitarian daydream, but it lies somewhere in between. Lyon proposes an informed and responsive participation between the citizenry and the state as a viable alternative to make surveillance more participatory.
5. Identity (Keywords)
Other Press (NY) (2004) (Paperback)
This is a unique publishing experiment. Academics from six different countries explore the issue of identity from various perspectives. In his essay, Mahmmod Mamdani, for instance, argues that identity in Africa was a particularly colonial construct. Judicial, administrative and ethnic mores were factored in to create a fragmented sense of identity. Identity became a central theme during the Rwandan Genocide during the closing years of last century.
6. Data Made Flesh: Embodying Information
Editor. R. Mitchell. Routledge; 1 edition (2003) (Paperback)
This book focuses on the history of embodiment of information. The book is divided into three parts. Part I, titled, Bodies Before the Information Age discusses the issues of systematic regimentation of animal bodies, particularly the Horses in Seventeenth and Eighteenth centuries. Part II, titled, Control and New Bodies, explores how in medicinal sciences, especially, in surgery, the human body was viewed. Part III, titled, Flesh Remembered: Art, Information and Bodies, argues, ways in which embodied information influenced the art movement in 20th and 21st century Europe.
7. Making History, Drawing Territory: British Mapping in India, c. 1756-1905
Ian J. Barrow.
Oxford University Press, USA (2004) (Hardcover)
Through this book, Ian J Barrow tries to retrace the coordinates of the British Raj’s humungous mapping practices in India. Barrow contends that the survey of Indian land and its people was not just a utilitarian project aimed to compile a stock of crucial and strategic information rather the survey was a subtle and a sublime role to play in the larger project of Empire building. Eighteenth century maps illustrated a vision of ‘India’ that was bereft of any ‘local’ references. Engravings and illustrations of Victorian architecture were carefully littered around the maps giving a sense of an ‘a historical’ land that was being ‘civilized’ by the Raj.
8. The Great Arc: The Dramatic Tale of How India Was Mapped and Everest Was Named
Harper Perennial (2001) (Paperback)
John Keay tells the story of the Tirgonometrical Survey of India. The survey was undertaken in the first half of Nineteenth century. John Keay narrates how two men, William Lambton and George Everest invest their entire lives to map India.
The books combines anecdotes sourced from personal correspondences, documents excavated from archives, reports published in scientific and geographic journals, and photographs littered across three continents to reconstruct a most riveting account of history of colonial mapping in India.
9. The Invention of the Passport: Surveillance, Citizenship and the State
by John Torpey
University Press (1999) (Paperback)
Marx showed us that the process of capitalist development is intertwined by the expropriation of ‘means of production’ from workers by capitalists. Weber propounded that the key aspect of modern experience was expropriation of ‘means of violence’ from individuals. Torpey argues that modern state has expropriated from individuals the legitimate ‘means of movement’.
The invention of passport treads the oft treaded path of modern history. The difference lies in approach. Instead of looking keenly at historical milestones, Torpey looks at the nature of changes wrought by these milestones through the march of time, especially with regards to free and unfettered movement of individuals across land masses.
This path breaking book, explores, excavates and analyses the political, legal and social events that led to an almost simultaneous growth of the passport regime with the rise of nation states in recent past.
10. Documenting Individual Identity: The Development of State Practices in the Modern World.
Jane Caplan (Editor), John Torpey (Editor)
Princeton University Press (2001) (Paperback)
Who are you? How can one tell someone who she is? Is human identity stable? What are the ways in which the identity of a person is defined? Is individual identity unique? What is the history of individual identification? When does the state become a stake holder in individual identity game?
Through four parts and nineteen superbly written essays, this book, takes one through a Weberian world of dimly lit alleys of state and non state bureaucratic institutions, as the anxieties of the rulers to KNOW more and more about the ruled, increase.
The first part sets up the scene, by elucidation upon the apparatus of identification. The next two parts draw the linkage between identification and policing. Last part is devoted to detailed discussions on contemporary issues in individual identification and reflections on future course of research.
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