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In this article, we define and examine surveillance culture within US college classrooms, a logical extension of pervasive carceral and capitalist logics that underlie the US educational system, in which individual success is tied to behavior monitoring, rule following, and sorting, particularly within marginalized student populations. Reflecting anxieties about the expansion of educational access, we argue for how crisis and change have historically contributed to the
urgency and opportunity to expand surveillance culture and consider why this has continued to happen as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. We offer suggestions and alternatives to surveillance culture that have helped us foster student engagement in our own classrooms while also arguing for more substantial structural changes that could challenge surveillance culture beyond the individual unit of the classroom.


Originally published as: Wan, Amy and Lindsey Albracht. "Beyond "Bad" Cops: Historicizing and Resisting Surveillance Culture in Universities." JamIt! Journal of American Studies in Italy, vol. 5, 2021,

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