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February 22: Exposed. Desire and Disobedience in the Digital Age

Monday, February 22, 2016, 5:00 p.m.

The Center for International Research in the Humanities and Social Sciences (CNRS/NYU)

at New York University

presents a discussion of Bernard E. Harcourt's new book:

Exposed: Desire and Disobedience in the Digital Age

(Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2015)

La Maison Française
16 Washington Mews

New York, NY 1003

February 22, 5 pm-7pm

Social media compile data on users, retailers mine information on consumers, Internet giants create dossiers of who we know and what we do, and intelligence agencies collect all this plus billions of communications daily. Exploiting our boundless desire to access everything all the time, digital technology is breaking down whatever boundaries still exist between the state, the market, and the private realm. Exposed offers a powerful critique of our new virtual transparence, revealing just how unfree we are becoming and how little we seem to care.

Bernard Harcourt guides us through our new digital landscape, one that makes it so easy for others to monitor, profile, and shape our every desire. We are building what he calls the expository society—a platform for unprecedented levels of exhibition, watching, and influence that is reconfiguring our political relations and reshaping our notions of what it means to be an individual.

We are not scandalized by this. To the contrary: we crave exposure and knowingly surrender our privacy and anonymity in order to tap into social networks and consumer convenience—or we give in ambivalently, despite our reservations. But we have arrived at a moment of reckoning. If we do not wish to be trapped in a steel mesh of wireless digits, we have a responsibility to do whatever we can to resist. Disobedience to a regime that relies on massive data mining can take many forms, from aggressively encrypting personal information to leaking government secrets, but all will require conviction and courage.


Bernard E. Harcourt
, Isidor and Seville Sulzbacher Professor of Law and Director, Columbia Center for Contemporary Critical Thought

Sarah Leonard, Senior Editor at The Nation, co-editor of The Future We Want: Radical Ideas for the New Century (2016)

Ben Kafka, NYU, Media, Culture and Communication, author of The Demon of Writing: Powers and Failures of Paperwork (2012), psychoanalyst in private practice


Stefanos Geroulanos, NYU History, and director of CIRHUS, author of the forthcoming The Matter with Transparency in Postwar France

A light reception will follow.

Please RSVP by February 19th with Valérie Dubois