Control Societies Speaker Series: Bernard Harcourt

"The Counterrevolution: When Digital Technology Meets the Counterinsurgency Warfare Paradigm"
Logo of the Control Societies speaker series
03 Apr 2018 - 4:00pm to 5:00pm
Annenberg School, 3620 Walnut Street, Room 500

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About the Lecture

"The Counterrevolution: When Digital Technology Meets the Counterinsurgency Warfare Paradigm"

Since 9/11, the US government has brought home, onto American soil, the counterinsurgency warfare paradigm that it refined in Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Middle East. Our government has trained its sights on ordinary Americans across the country in an effort to more effectively govern and control the homeland. One of the key strategies has been total information awareness, made possible through digital technology, to sort the good from the bad citizens; and digital distractions to win the hearts and minds of the passive majority in this country. This presentation will explore what happens when digital technology and surveillance become part and parcel of The Counterrevolution.

About Bernard Harcourt

Bernard E. Harcourt is the Isidor and Seville Sulzbacher Professor of Law and Professor of Political Science at Columbia University. Before moving to Columbia University, Harcourt was the chairman of the political science department and the Julius Kreeger Professor of Law and Political Science at the University of Chicago.

Intersecting political, legal, and social theory, his scholarship explores questions of punishment, surveillance, and political economy. He is the author of the forthcoming book The Counterrevolution: How Our Government Went to War Against Its Own Citizens (Basic Books, 2018), and of several previous books including most recently Exposed: Desire and Disobedience in the Digital Age (Harvard 2015), The Illusion of Free Markets: Punishment and the Myth of Natural Order (Harvard 2011), and Occupy: Three Inquiries in Disobedience with Michael Taussig and W.J.T. Mitchell (Chicago 2013).

Harcourt is the editor of the French edition of Michel Foucault’s 1972-73 lectures at the Collège de France, La Société punitive (Gallimard 2013), and the 1971-1972 lectures, Theories et institutions pénales (Gallimard 2015).  He is the editor of the new Pléiade edition of Surveiller et punir in the official collected works of Foucault at Gallimard. He is co-editor of the lectures Foucault delivered at Louvain in 1981, in French and English, Wrong-Doing, Truth-Telling: The Function of Avowal in Justice (Chicago 2014).

Harcourt is the founding director of the Columbia Center for Contemporary Critical Thought at Columbia University, and he is also a directeur d’études (chaired professor) at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales in Paris. Harcourt served as visiting professor at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton in 2016-2017.

A passionate advocate for justice, Harcourt started his legal career representing death row inmates, working with Bryan Stevenson at what is now the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, Alabama. He lived and worked in Montgomery for several years and still today continues to represent  pro bono inmates sentenced to death and life imprisonment without parole. He also served on human rights missions to South Africa and Guatemala, and this year has been actively challenging the Trump administration’s Muslim Ban, representing pro bono a Syrian medical resident excluded under the executive order, as well as Moseb Zeiton, a Columbia SIPA student

About Control Societies Speaker Series

Control Societies was started as part of the School of Social Policy & Practice’s initiative on Culture, Society, and Critical Policy Studies in order to feature and engage cutting edge scholarship on the enumerating acts of governmentality in computational culture and the incalculable possibilities of justice. For the 2017/2018 academic year, the School of Social Policy & Practice will continue its speaker series in partnership with the Annenberg School for Communication, which produces scholarship on the social, cultural, economic, and political implications of digital information and communication technologies, networks, and systems. Through the speaker series, the organizers aim to explore the philosophical foundations of algorithms, data, and their intersections with governmentality, surveillance, social policy, and the reconfiguring of power relations.

The final lecture of the 2017-2018 series with be on April 9 with Elvin Wyly of the University of British Columbia.

For more information, visit

Additional funding is provided by the Provost Excellence Through Diversity Fund and Price Digital Humanities Lab.

This event may be photographed and/or video recorded for archival, educational, and related promotional purposes. We also video stream many of these video recordings through the Annenberg web site. By attending or participating in this event, you are giving your consent to be photographed and/or video recorded and you are waiving any and all claims regarding the use of your image by the Annenberg School for Communication. The Annenberg School for Communication, at its discretion, may provide a copy of the photos/footage upon written request.