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Protests and Multi-Issue Extremism: Reassessing Knowledge Categories in Post-Crisis Security

Dr. Alessandra Renzi
Post-Doctoral Fellow
UW-Milwaukee, School of Information Studies

Friday, November 2, 2012
11:30 - 1:00PM

This The Toronto G8/G20 summit of 2010 sparked intense public debate following the unprecedented levels of security, surveillance, detention, and police brutality. My research demonstrates that the case of Toronto indicates more than a scalar shift in security; in fact, this case signals significant changes to surveillance practices, control techniques and funding arrangements within the post-911 security apparatus. To reconsider these changes, the talk offers a detailed analysis of the category of ‘the protester’ – a generic, homegrown figure cast by governments in the role of extreme public threat at a time of austerity measures. We consider how the protester was constructed through the interplay of various sources of information, including the security apparatus, the accounts of the mainstream media, and the new surveillance agencies’ nomenclature of ‘multi-issue extremism’ (MIE). MIE simultaneously functions as an organizational category in intelligence reports and as a civil category to delegitimize democratic practices. As security agencies and media outlets mutually reinforce the fear of MIE threats against the state and corporate capital, the legal re-invention of concepts such as ‘endangered critical infrastructure’ sustains these narratives, allowing for the implementation of increasingly pernicious surveillance measures and policing policies.

The talk concludes by posing urgent questions regarding the organization of knowledge categories in the neoliberal diagram of security, and by insisting that designations such as MIE and ‘endangered critical infrastructure’ must be contested through innovative new media practices, alliances, and policies in order to sustain threatened democratic forms-of-life.

NWQB 3511
University of Wisconsin-Milwuakee, School of Information Studies
2025 E Newport Ave, Milwaukee WI 53211

Sponsored by: UW-Milwaukee, School of Information Studies, Social Studies of Information Research Group and the UW-Milwaukee Department of Communication

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