Reimagining the white surveillance gaze: a practical theological proposal for repentant and solidaristic engagement

Eric Stoddart*

*Corresponding author for this work

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Abstract

This surveillance gaze is White in the sense that while it may, on occasion, intentionally target people who are non-white for special scrutiny, this gaze comprises operations and experiences of surveillance that assume Whiteness as normative and unremarkable. It raises barriers which are of no, or minimal hindrance, to white people. This article draws on examples and theories of racial bias within Artificial Intelligence technologies to identify dataism (a naïve trust in data) to be a significant dimension of the problematic gaze. Using Stoddart’s cruciform Christian theology of surveillance and the preferential optic for the (digitally) poor, in conjunction with Trozzo’s theological critique of data and Pattison’s theological notion of enfacement, proposals are made for dismantling the White surveillance gaze. These include acknowledging biases in White theology and imagining a redeemed White gaze as a paradigm of repentant and solidaristic surveillance. The article concludes with recommendations for enhanced practice by Christians who are developers, users, and subjects of surveillance technologies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)94-106
Number of pages13
JournalPractical Theology
Volume15
Issue number1-2
Early online date1 Feb 2022
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 28 Feb 2022

Keywords

  • Surveillance
  • Whiteness
  • Preferential option
  • Dataism
  • White theology

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