Racism, policing and the politics of surveillance in times of pandemic | A Zoom webinar organized by Social Scientists Against the Hostile Environment (SSAHE), Monday, 6 July 2020, 5- 6.30 pm. 

This Webinar will take place on Zoom. To attend register on EventBrite. Once we have reached our Zoom capacity, we will open an EventBrite waiting list. Everyone on this list will receive a link for a YouTube live stream of the event.


An yu cyaan awsk Joy Gardner

Bout her sufficaeshan


Yu cyaan awsk Olivier Price

Bout di grip roun him nek


But yu can awsk di PCA

Bout di liesense fi kill


Dat plenty poleece feel dem gat

(Linton Kwesi Johnson, ‘License Fi Kill’, 1998)

Because white men can’t

police their imagination​

black men are dying​


(Claudia Rankine,

Citizen: An American Lyric ​, 2014)


Racism is ingrained in our capitalist societies which are built on historically-defined regimes of racialized accumulation. It inflicts violence and structural disadvantages on racialised citizens and migrants. The brutal murder of George Floyd in police custody is the tip of an iceberg made of hundreds of black and minority ethnic lives who are daily subjected to police violence and silenced by a judicial system unwilling to protect them. The Covid-19 pandemic has thrown the extent of social inequality and racialized oppression into sharp relief through the disproportionate number of deaths among black and minority ethnic communities in Europe and North America, fuelling pre-existing and deep resentment among those who experience them everyday. The Covid-19 pandemic has also escalated the state surveillance and monitoring capabilities and weakened checks and balances to executive and police powers which are likely to disproportionally impact negatively on racialized communities. George Floyd’s murder has triggered a global social movement that has united behind the banner ‘Black lives matter’ a broad and diverse alliance of groups, communities and individuals.

This SSAHE webinar brings together a range of perspectives on the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on new and existing forms of racism and racial oppression, and the spaces and geographies that make and break black lives. It examines policing of black and minority ethnic lives and the changing politics of surveillance fuelled by big data and technological innovation, and suggests alternative ways we can re-read, reconstruct and remap the contemporary moment and everyday life, so as to police the imagination of the racist minds to take responsibility for their actions.

Speakers include:

  • Gracie Mae Bradley Government accountability and campaigning for change in a public health emergency
  • Adam Elliott-Cooper Beyond Reform: Policing, Racism and Anti-Racism in Britain
  • Maya Goodfellow The hostile environment during coronavirus: understanding immigration enforcement, surveillance and racism in the UK
  • Saskia Sassen The politics of surveillance encounters police brutality (USA)

The webinar is chaired by Bahriye Kemal and Nando Sigona

About the speakers

Gracie Mae Bradley is Policy and Campaigns Manager at Liberty where she leads strategy and campaigns across policing, immigration, counter-terror, and surveillance. She is also on the Ada Lovelace Institute ‘Rethinking Data’ Working Group and the defenddigitalme Advisory Council.

Dr Adam Elliott-Cooper is a research associate in Sociology at University of Greenwich. His research focuses on geography and spatial theory, social movements and activism, anti-racism and British policing in Britain and its colonies. Recent publications include ‘Our Life is a Struggle’: Gender, Respectability and Black Resistance, and The struggle that cannot be named: violence, space and the re-articulation of anti-racism in post-Duggan Britain. He sits on the board of The Monitoring Group, an anti-racist organisation challenging state racisms and racial violence.

Dr Maya Goodfellow is a writer, academic and broadcast commentator. She has written for a range of publications including the New York Times and Guardian. Maya is the author of Hostile Environment: How Immigrants Became Scapegoats (Verso, 2019). She holds a PhD from SOAS, University of London where she examined race and processes of racialisation in British international development discourse. She is a trustee of the Runnymede Trust, an independent race equality think tank.

Professor Saskia Sassen is the Robert S. Lynd Professor of Sociology at Columbia University and a Member of its Committee on Global Thought. Her research focuses on immigration, global cities, new networked technologies, state in world economy, with inequality, gendering and digitization running though her work. She is the author and editor/co-editor of several books, including The Mobility of Labor and Capital (Cambridge 1998), Territory, Authority, Rights (Princeton 2006) Deciphering the Global: Its Spaces, Scales, and Subjects (Routledge 2007), Cities at War: Global Insecurity and Urban Resistance (2020). The project Encyclopedia of Life Support Systems (Oxford, UK: EOLSS Publishers) for UNESCO focuses on sustainable human settlement, for which she set up a network of researchers and activists in over 30 countries.

Dr Bahriye Kemal is an academic, writer/poet, and activist. She has published on space/place, displacement, borders, conflict, and solidarity/activist movements as related to postcolonial east Meditereanean and Britain. She is author or editor of books and journals, including Writing Cyprus Postcolonial and Partitioned Literatures of Place and Space (Routledge, 2020), Nicosia Beyond: Barriers: Voices from a Divided City (Saqi, 2019), and Visa Stories: Experiences between Law and Migration (2013). She is a lecturer in Contemporary and Postcolonial Literatures at the University of Kent. She is an active member of organisations that work with displaced people, including serving as trustee for Kent Refugee Help, a charity supporting refugees and migrants in Kent and London prisons.

Prof Nando Sigona is Chair of International Migration and Forced Displacement and director of the Institute for Research into Superdiversity at the University of Birmingham. He is author or editor of books and journal’s special issues including Undocumented Migration (with Gonzales, Franco and Papoutsi, 2019); Unravelling Europe’s ‘migration crisis’ (with Crawley, Duvell, Jones, and McMahon, 2017), Within and beyond citizenship (with Roberto G. Gonzales, 2017), The Oxford Handbook on Refugee and Forced Migration Studies (with Fiddian Qasmiyeh, Loescher and Long, 2014), and Sans Papiers. The social and economic lives of undocumented migrants (with Bloch and Zetter, 2014).

Poster artwork: ‘Eyes of a Cloud’ by  Leroy Letts.