The Visual Side of Privacy: State-Incriminating, Coproduced Archives

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In Eichmann in Jerusalem, Hannah Arendt illustrates the “lesser of two evils” principle by relating the peculiar story of a state archive of photographs of women in swimwear. During the Nazi period, she writes, to receive a marriage license Czech women applying to marry German soldiers were required to furnish a photograph of themselves dressed in swimwear. Taking its cue from this historic example, this study traces the evolution of a phenomenon the author describes as state-incriminating, coproduced archives, visual archives that are coproduced by representatives of the legal and political order in the name of law, and by the subjects who are obliged to participate in their creation: staging and documenting their own performance to become or remain lawful citizens. Examining this kind of visual surveillance and the “extraterritorial” quality of the produced images, a line is drawn to privacy infringement in today’s professed democracies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)185-213
Number of pages29
JournalPublic Culture
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Communication
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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