Surveillance history and the history of new media: An evidential paradigm

Academic Article


  • New media are often addressed within the growing field of surveillance studies, but technologies predating the late twentieth century are rarely considered. This essay challenges conventional histories of modern surveillance by highlighting the cultural impact of three ‘old’ new media: photography, the phonograph, and the telephone. Drawing upon the work of historian Carlo Ginzburg (1990) , I argue that new media produce new evidence and that late nineteenth-century media contributed to an emergent ‘evidential paradigm’. From this perspective, the intensification of contemporary surveillance can be seen as an elaboration of late nineteenth-century new media and the proliferation of evidence-producing communication technologies.
  • Authors


    Publication Date

  • June 2012
  • Published In


  • camera
  • evidence
  • phonograph
  • photography
  • privacy
  • surveillance
  • telephone
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Start Page

  • 566
  • End Page

  • 582
  • Volume

  • 14
  • Issue

  • 4