Peter Galison | Cultures of Collection and the State of Secrecy

In this lecture, Peter Galison will contrast two moments in the long history of surveillance―two moments that have and are reshaping the self. The first, set in 1915, is about the Freudian self and its emergence in the midst of the massive press and postal censorship of World War I. The aim is to offer a scheme for reading this episode of inner (psychic) and outer (political) censorship that begins with an examination of the specific procedures of intervention in mediated expression, then passes to techniques of evading the censor (condensation, displacement, concretization), and from there to the construction of Freud’s topographic schema of self. The second part, located in our troubled present of 2015, uses this same approach to look at the intelligence, commercial and academic construction (a hundred years after World War I) of a massive, permanent digital archive of mediated communication to be used for present and future data mining. It too then explores techniques of evading the surveillance, though not the same ones that Freud had in view. Galison concludes with a new schema of self that might be emerging from our own world of digital, ubiquitous inquiry.


GalisonPeter Galison
Joseph Pellegrino University Professor in History of Science and Physics
Harvard University

Thursday, October 1, 2015 
12:00 PM – 1:00 PM
University of California, Davis School of Law, King Hall Rm 1301

Peter Galison is the Pellegrino University Professor in History of Science and Physics at Harvard University. He received his Ph.D. from Harvard University in both Physics and the History of Science in 1983. His publications include Image and Logic: A Material Culture of Microphysics (1997) and Einstein’s Clocks, Poincaré’s Maps: Empires of Time (2003). His most recent book, co-authored with Lorraine Daston, is titled Objectivity (2007).

Peter Galison directed Secrecy (with Robb Moss), a 2008 documentary film examining the vast, invisible world of government secrecy. He has worked extensively with de-classified material in his studies of physics in the Cold War. His film on the moral-political debates over the H-bomb, Ultimate Weapon: The H-bomb Dilemma (with Pamela Hogan) has been shown frequently on the History Channel and is widely used in courses and seminars in the United States and abroad.