Examines the pervasive presence of surveillance and how surveillance technologies alter the performance of everyday life

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Placing the disciplines of performance studies and surveillance studies in a timely critical dialogue, Performance, Transparency, and the Cultures of Surveillance not only theorizes how surveillance performs but also how the technologies and corresponding cultures of surveillance alter the performance of everyday life. This exploration draws upon a rich array of examples from theatre, performance, and the arts, all of which provide vivid illustration of the book’s central argument: that the rise of the surveillance society coincides with a profound collapse of democratic oversight and transparency—a collapse that, in turn, demands a radical rethinking of how performance practitioners conceptualize art and its political efficacy. The book thus makes the case that artists and critics must reexamine—indeed, must radically redefine—their notions of performance if they are to mount any meaningful counter to the increasingly invasive surveillance society.

James M. Harding is Professor of Theatre and Performance Studies at the University of Maryland, College Park.

"Harding moves fluidly between the sociological, political, statistical, economic, and aesthetic considerations of the impacts of surveillance on contemporary life. His book contributes a cautionary analysis of contemporary surveillance society that is grounded in performance and activist histories from the 20th-century avant-garde and pitched toward the need for radical activist performance in the 21st century. The final chapter in particular is an unequivocal call to
arms, a stirring appeal for radical action in the face of alarming imbalances of power at local, national, and international levels."
—Elise Morrison, Yale University

"Throughout the book’s six chapters, Harding provides thorough explanations and engaging analyses of worrisome trends in privatization, neoliberal economic structures, and racism in contemporary surveillance society." - Elise Morrison, The Drama Review

- Elise Morrison

"James Harding’s Performance, Transparency, and the Cultures of Surveillance is a powerful and potentially field-changing book . . . It is a critical call to arms, thoroughly steeped in the surveillance studies literature and replete with insights and epiphanies . . .  this is an engaging and important book that does not eschew confrontation but nonetheless strikes an honest and compassionate tone. The field would certainly grow if it wrestled with Harding’s critiques and sought to actualize its own versions of the artistically inspired political activism his book describes."
—Torin Monahan, Surveillance & Society

- Surveillance and Society