Despite some cries that the publishing industry is at the precipice of financial doom, it’s hard to tell based on the proliferation of texts being published year after year. With such high volumes of new works being produced it can be incredibly difficult to sort the wheat from the chaff. Within scholarly circles it (sometimes) becomes readily apparent what books are above middling quality by turning to citation indices, but outside of such (often paywall protected) circles it can be more challenging to ascertain what texts are clearly worth reading and which are not.
While I can hardly claim to speak with the weight of scholarly indices, I do read (and rate) a prolific number of texts each year. In what follows, I offer a list of the ‘best’ books that I read through 2011. Some are thought-provoking, others were important in how I understood various facets of the policy process, and still others offer interesting tidbits of information that have until now been hidden in shadow. For each book I’ll identify it’s main aim and a few points about what made the book compelling enough to get onto my list. Texts are not arranged in any particular ranking order and all should be available through your preferred book seller.
In ThePsychic Life of Power, Judith Butler argues that the power structures ordering individuals and states alike are predicated on a mourning that cannot be mourned; melancholia permeates the primary ordering structures of the individual and the state. Butler takes up this absence, and alerts us to the state’s reliance on citizens’ melancholia to support its continued being. The state, constituted by the melancholic, reasserts and normalizes the melancholia responsible for plunging the modern subject into its ontological crisis of Being; it perpetuates the subjects’ inability to authentically ground their selfhood.
In this paper, I ask whether digital environments are spaces that can facilitate the resolution of modern subjects’ ontological crisis, and thus might provoke the reconstitution of modern politics. In responding to this inquiry, I take up Butler’s analysis of mourning and melancholia and situate her politics of identity in the context of Cyberspace. Specifically, I investigate whether the modern subject can work through their crisis within the plasticity of digital spaces, or if these spaces only superficially present possibilities for working through crisis. In interrogating these possibilities, I consider how psychosocial norms of embodied life are (being) embedded throughout digital spaces, and reflect on the implications of state-held norms being reaffirmed in these new media environments. I conclude by adopting the stance that Cyberspace may enable some individuals to acknowledge their experience of melancholia, but stop short of claiming that the possibilities afforded by this space’s plasticity can or will provoke a widespread reconstitution of modern politics.
Canadian SIGINT Summaries
The Canadian SIGINT Summaries includes downloadable copies, along with summary, publication, and original source information, of leaked CSE documents.
Parsons, Christopher; and Molnar, Adam. (2021). “Horizontal Accountability and Signals Intelligence: Lesson Drawing from Annual Electronic Surveillance Reports,” David Murakami Wood and David Lyon (Eds.), Big Data Surveillance and Security Intelligence: The Canadian Case.
Parsons, Christopher. (2015). “Stuck on the Agenda: Drawing lessons from the stagnation of ‘lawful access’ legislation in Canada,” Michael Geist (ed.), Law, Privacy and Surveillance in Canada in the Post-Snowden Era (Ottawa University Press).
Parsons, Christopher. (2015). “The Governance of Telecommunications Surveillance: How Opaque and Unaccountable Practices and Policies Threaten Canadians,” Telecom Transparency Project.
Parsons, Christopher. (2015). “Beyond the ATIP: New methods for interrogating state surveillance,” in Jamie Brownlee and Kevin Walby (Eds.), Access to Information and Social Justice (Arbeiter Ring Publishing).
Bennett, Colin; Parsons, Christopher; Molnar, Adam. (2014). “Forgetting and the right to be forgotten” in Serge Gutwirth et al. (Eds.), Reloading Data Protection: Multidisciplinary Insights and Contemporary Challenges.
Bennett, Colin, and Parsons, Christopher. (2013). “Privacy and Surveillance: The Multi-Disciplinary Literature on the Capture, Use, and Disclosure of Personal information in Cyberspace” in W. Dutton (Ed.), Oxford Handbook of Internet Studies.
McPhail, Brenda; Parsons, Christopher; Ferenbok, Joseph; Smith, Karen; and Clement, Andrew. (2013). “Identifying Canadians at the Border: ePassports and the 9/11 legacy,” in Canadian Journal of Law and Society 27(3).
Parsons, Christopher; Savirimuthu, Joseph; Wipond, Rob; McArthur, Kevin. (2012). “ANPR: Code and Rhetorics of Compliance,” in European Journal of Law and Technology 3(3).