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2008 E. James Holland University Symposium on American Values

Privacy in America: Balancing the Individual and Society.

Privacy has long been a cornerstone of American society. The rugged individualism of those who founded this country provided a fertile cultural ground for the growth of privacy as a valued centerpiece of American life. For many years privacy was relatively easy to maintain. As technology has increasingly become woven into the fabric of society, however, personal information has become easier to obtain. Several examples illustrate the point. Many Americans were shocked, for instance, to learn recently that the popular internet search engine, Google, could be used to locate individuals’ personal data, even to the point of displaying a satellite image of your home. Other public data sources, like arrest records, have been made easier to navigate via the internet as well. Very quickly, privacy has taken on an entirely new meaning in the 21st century.

There is little that any of us can do about the continued integration of technology with our lives. Thus, our task as a society is to decide how we will cope with these changes. There are several options available, but determining the best course of action will be a difficult process. Thus, our sessions this year will directly address the value of privacy in American society by challenging assumptions, separating fact from myth, and providing clearer perspective on what the future holds.

The 2008 E. James Holland University Symposium, “Privacy in America: Balancing the Individual and Society,” brings two renowned speakers—Dr. John Gilliom and Dr. Torin Monahan—to the ASU campus to challenge and educate us. We hope you will join us as we consider what the American value of privacy will mean in the 21st century.

Distinguished Speakers

Dr. John Gilliom is a Professor of Political Science and Chair of the Department of Political Science at Ohio University. His teaching on law and politics has earned him the University Professor Award, the College of Arts and Sciences Outstanding Teacher Award, and the Jennette Graselli Outstanding Teaching Award. Gilliom received his Ph.D. in 1990 at the University of Washington and taught there for one year before joining the faculty at Ohio University.

His research interests center on the political and cultural dynamics surrounding the emergence of new forms of surveillance with a particular emphasis on gender, class, and the ethnography of struggle. He is the author of Overseers of the Poor: Surveillance, Resistance, and the Limits of Privacy (Chicago 2001) which explores how the words and actions of those who live under intensive monitoring challenge our prevailing ways of thinking about surveillance and privacy. Gilliom is also the author of Surveillance, Privacy and the Law: Employee Drug Testing and the Politics of Social Control (Michigan 1994) as well as numerous articles on law, legal theory, and the politics of surveillance. His current work explores the implementation of nationwide standardized educational testing under No Child Left Behind, with a special interest in resistance and compliance; race, class and gender; the ideologies of the testing culture; and the reformation of school curricula in response to the testing regime.

Dr. Gilliom’s talk will urge us to fundamentally rethink the basic terms and structure of the surveillance-privacy debate. Using examples from his research on workplace drug testing, welfare fraud control, and educational testing, he will argue that we need to understand surveillance as a pervasive and vital form of political power and social management which now defines many aspects of our lives. In this context, it will be suggested that the venerable right to privacy has run its course and may now stand in the way of robust intellectual inquiry and effective political discussion. Rooted in ancient ideas of individualism, property, and the limited state, the idea of privacy as a legal right may be distinctly inappropriate for helping us understand and cope with a new world in which surveillance, interdependency, and pervasive governance define our lives. New terms and ideas, it will be argued, are emerging from empirical research and suggest that a fresh understanding of surveillance will foreground issues of power, domination, and political conflict.

Dr. Torin Monahan is an Associate Professor of Human & Organizational Development and an Associate Professor of Medicine at Vanderbilt University. His main theoretical interests are in social control and institutional transformations with new technologies. He is trained in science and technology studies (STS), which is an interdisciplinary, social science field devoted to studying the social ramifications of and design processes behind technological systems and scientific knowledge. Monahan received his Ph.D. from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 2003 and was an assistant professor in the School of Justice and Social Inquiry at Arizona State University from 2003 to 2008.

He is editor of the book Surveillance and Security: Technological Politics and Power in Everyday Life (Routledge 2006), which critically investigates the inequalities associated with contemporary surveillance systems. Monahan is also author of the book Globalization, Technological Change, and Public Education (Routledge 2005), which drew upon extensive ethnographic research and interviews in the Los Angeles Unified School District to describe the ways that political values become embedded in durable technological infrastructures.

His current research is on the social implications of surveillance and security systems. Projects include (1) an ethnographic study of the effects of RFID technologies on organizational dynamics in hospitals, (2) collaborative research on the surveillance modalities and ethical dimensions of human implants, (3) inquiry into Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) in the USA, and (4) research on activist counter-surveillance movements. He has received three NSF grants for research on surveillance technologies and has published widely on issues of surveillance and security. He is a member of the international Surveillance Studies Network and is on the editorial board for the primary academic journal in the field, Surveillance & Society.

Monahan’s talk will focus on invasive technological monitoring of and intervention into body functions. With this type of “somatic surveillance,” bodies are recast as nodes on vast information networks, enabling control through remote network commands, automated responses, or self-management practices. Somatic surveillance will be discussed in three domains: nanotechnology systems for soldiers on the battlefield, commercial body-monitoring systems for health purposes, and radio-frequency identification (RFID) implants for identification of hospital patients. The argument is that surveillance systems tend to reduce people to “data” and aggravate social inequalities in ways that are increasingly automated and invisible.

E. James Holland and The History of The Symposium

By special action of the Board of Regents of the Texas University System in 2003, the ASU Symposium was renamed the E. James Holland University Symposium on American Values in honor of the retired Dean of the College of Liberal and Fine Arts, who established the annual event in 1984.

During his 36 years at ASU, Holland served the university as Professor of Government and Head of the Government Department, Director of Curriculum Development, Associate VP for Academic Affairs, and Dean of the College of Liberal and Fine Arts. With degrees from Southwestern University, Yale Divinity School, and The American University in Washington, D.C., Holland was instrumental in developing the university’s international student and faculty exchange program and in establishing new degree programs in international studies, communications, studio arts, and criminal justice.

Holland is an active member of the San Angelo community, serving as president of Adult Day Care, Concho Educators Federal Credit Union, and United Campus Ministries and as a member of the Ancillary Manpower Planning Board of the Concho Valley Council of Government. He is also active in St. Luke’s United Methodist Church, where he chaired the Administrative Board of the Finance Committee.

Since its inception, the Symposium has brought more than 50 nationally prominent scholars, academicians, and policy-makers to the ASU campus to provoke thought and discussion on a wide range of themes. A collaboration of students, faculty members, and administrators, the Symposium is dedicated to improving the overall academic environment of the University and committed to exploring the national character as expressed in issues related to American values.

The two-day Symposium, sponsored by the Office of the Vice President for Academic Affairs, is the central event in a broader program of related activities, including class visits by the featured presenters, a video production of the Symposium itself, and a creative contest with cash awards for students.

Presentation Schedule

October 27, 2008
2:00 p.m.
Dr. John Gilliom
C.J. Davidson Conference Center, [UC]

October 28, 2008
2:00 p.m.
Dr. Torin Monahan
C.J. Davidson Conference Center, [UC]

Panel Discussion

October 28, 2008
7:30 p.m.
Panelists: Dr. Gilliom and Dr. Monahan
C.J. Davidson Conference Center, [UC]

All sessions are free.