Above: Example of an 1843 slave pass for a Mr. Benjamin McDaniel
Here I will provide a historical context through which one may better understand and analyze the various technologies and conceptions utilized during colonial American slavery to maintain a race based power differential still existent today. With that I will delineate how those same conceptions and technologies have developed over time into present day America and later, how those have been employed in the large-scale oppression of migrant peoples and its justifications.
Initially one may consider the relationship between the colonial American slavers and their “property” of slaves whose agency required limiting in order to maintain a system of fear and violence. Much of this first blog will delve into the work of both Professor Simone Browne on “Race and Surveillance” in Routledge Handbook of Surveillance Studies and of Christian Parenti in his 2003 book, The Soft Cage: Surveillance in America from Slavery to the War on Terror. Early on Parenti states, “…the master class was forced to develop not just methods of terror but also a haphazard system of identification and surveillance. The result was in many ways the earliest imprint of modern everyday surveillance.”Read more about Race, Space & Place: How American slavery shapes contemporary ideologies around immigration