Gavin Smith

Gavin JD Smith (@gavin_jd_smith) is an Associate Professor in Sociology at the Australian National University. His current research explores the social impacts of – and implications attendant on – the rise and use of facial recognition systems in public space. He is specifically interested in the biopolitics of recognition, where the face becomes akin to a trackable and traceable ID, and is made the subject of new models of biopower. Another germane interest of Smith’s is in the socio-ecological field, where he looks at the ambiguous figure of the snake in many societies, and the routine forms of violence this creature endures as a result of its biopolitical framing. He is currently undertaking a multi-species, sensory ethnography which focuses on human-snake encounters and the practice of snake catching, to transform understandings of this boundary entity. He is also involved in various biopolitical and ecopolitical projects which analyse discourses of biodiversity and conservational practices in various field sites. Smith has published extensively on the biopolitics of surveillance, and his ideas appear in leading journals such as Body & SocietyBig Data & SocietyCritical Public HealthTheoretical CriminologySurveillance & SocietyThe British Journal of CriminologyJournal of Medical Internet Research and Urban Studies. His first book, Opening the Black Box: The Work of Watching (2015, Routledge) comprises an ethnographic analysis of the sensory and affective culture of CCTV camera operation. From 2011-2016, he was co-editor of the leading open-access international journal, Surveillance & Society.

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