University of Western Ontario

Elise Danielle Thorburn is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Western Ontario and is currently completing her dissertation while on a Fulbright Fellowship at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill. She is interested in activist uses of technologies, the histories of cybernetics, and the emergent political form of the assembly.

Counter-hegemonic Surveillant Assemblages: Live Streaming, Control Society, and Resistant Possibilities.

As mobile media and social media applications become ever-ubiquitous, productive energies and capacities are enabled alongside oppressive structures of control and domination. These competing possibilities are especially evident with the use of live streaming technologies. Using the LU70 cellular based uplink transmission backpack, volunteers with Concordia’s television station epitomised wireless mobile media, streaming video from the nightly demonstrations that marked the ‘Quebec Spring.’

Mobile media, as mechanic assemblages, harness diverse components and cohere them with a sense of unity. For Gilles Deleuze, machines are “easily matched with each type of society” and the machines of emergent technologies intensify and accelerate the mutation in capitalism which moves us from a Foucauldian disciplinary society to a society of control. Highly technologised societies are, for Deleuze, full of power, control, and domination. While Deleuze adopted a pessimistic view of advanced technologies, this paper seeks to understand the resistant and creative possibilities inhering in form of surveillance: live streaming video. While recent news reports warn that social media monitoring is becoming the “next big thing in law enforcement” increasingly large numbers of activists are engaged in live streaming. Clearly, live streaming opens the door to more powerful and dangerous surveillant assemblages. Taking these dangers seriously, this paper will seek to explore the counter-hegemonic surveillant assemblages that are also created through a convergence of mobile applications and resistant political movements. How does thinking of live streaming technologies in all their complexity open up new pathways for counter-hegemonic surveillant assemblages to arise and give new power and meaning to movements engaged in resistances to neoliberal capitalism?