Type: Public event

Privatization, technology, and the carceral state

Part of the Behind Walls, Beyond Discipline: Science, Technology, and the Carceral State webinar series


Kelly Gates (UC-San Diego), Anthony Ryan Hatch (Wesleyan Univ.), Jorge Nuñez (UDLA-Ecuador), Heather Thompson (Univ. of Michigan)

Date & time

May 28, 2021, 12:00 pm EDT


This is a Virtual Event.

From investment in surveillance technologies to relying on prison labor, the carceral state--like so many other traditional state functions--is being privatized. The state is turning to the private sector in the hopes that it can reduce costs and corruption and produce scalable technologies for risk assessment, monitoring, and incarceration while generating entrepreneurial activity and even economic growth. But STS scholarship teaches us that technologies are deeply shaped by and embedded in context, and when transported carry with them particular values, assumptions, and imaginaries. What kinds of carceral technologies are being produced and what worlds do they imagine? How must citizens and societies remake themselves in order to fit these new technologies and privatization of the carceral state? What new economies are emerging, and how does this shift the dynamics of power and responsibility among the state, industry, and the people? How might better understandings of carceral privatization advance STS understandings of the public and private sectors vis-a-vis innovation and technology?


  • Kelly Gates, University of California San Diego
  • Anthony Ryan Hatch, Wesleyan University
  • Jorge Nuñez, Kaleidos, Center for Interdisciplinary Ethnography at Universidad de las Americas (UDLA-Ecuador)
  • Chaired by Heather Thompson, University of Michigan

Behind Walls, Beyond Discipline: Science, Technology & the Carceral State

Behind Walls, Beyond Discipline: Science, Technology, and the Carceral State is a series of weekly events held virtually every Friday between May 14 and June 11, 2021 at noon Eastern. Events include a featured conversation with Keith Breckenridge, three panels that bring together international experts to discuss a single theme, and discussion of the film El Panóptico Ciego. Discussions will draw from short, pre-recorded talks which will be available to registrants two weeks before each event. Attendance at each event's webinar requires separate registration. This event is sponsored by the Ford School's Science, Technology, and Public Policy program and LSA's Science, Technology, and Society program. For more information, and a full list of co-sponsors, visit myumi.ch/stscarceral

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