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Harmoniously Denied: COVID-19 and the Latent Effects of Censorship

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Michael Barr



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC-ND).


While few would doubt that censorship is a form of surveillance, the practice and theory of censorship does not hold as prominent a place within surveillance studies as one might think. In this paper, we demonstrate the constitutive effects of censorship which seep into the collective mentality and in Foucauldian terms, “conducts the conduct”. We examine the wider socio-political impact of China’s censorship of COVID-19. We argue that censorship is a force “at large”. By this we refer to the pervasive uptake of censorship practices at different levels and how it manifests itself as a form of power unchained, making it difficult, if not impossible to track and contain its impact, even for the authorities. We highlight the domestic impact of how China’s censorship regime bends its population into acquiescing to a harmonious denial of their collective prospects and how it curtails the global response.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Zhang JY, Barr M

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Surveillance & Society

Year: 2021

Volume: 19

Issue: 3

Pages: 389-402

Online publication date: 21/09/2021

Acceptance date: 22/12/2020

Date deposited: 16/02/2021

ISSN (electronic): 1477-7487

Publisher: Surveillance Studies Network


DOI: 10.24908/ss.v19i3.14102


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