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Spaces of SecurityEthnographies of Securityscapes, Surveillance, and Control$
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Setha Low and Mark Maguire

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781479863013

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: September 2019

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9781479863013.001.0001

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Comparative Surveillance Regimes

Comparative Surveillance Regimes

A Preliminary Essay

(p.57) 2 Comparative Surveillance Regimes
Spaces of Security

Katherine Verdery

NYU Press

Imagine the “security” experienced by people living in a communist state like Romania or Hungary in the 1950s and ‘60s, terrified at the prospect of secret police knocking on the door at midnight to take away the family’s beloved father or brother. Then imagine the ever-present but invisible surveillance of one’s phone calls or internet purchases, carried out today on a scale so enormous that most people cannot begin to comprehend it. What different notions of security inform these two imaginings? To what different forms of society do they belong, and what are their consequences? Using material from Romania. This chapter describes three different forms of “surveillance regime”—socialist, “modernist,” and “postmodern”—noting some of their characteristics, benefits, and drawbacks, as well as their associated forms of affect.

Keywords:   surveillance, security regimes, secret police, Romania, affect

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