Department of Sociology

Queen's University
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David Murakami Wood

David Murakami Wood


Associate Professor

Canada Research Chair (Tier II) in Surveillance Studies

BA (hons.) (Oxon), MSc (Newcastle), PhD (Newcastle)
Cross-Appointed in the Department of Geography

Member of the Surveillance Studies Centre

Research Areas

I’m an interdisciplinary scholar of cities, security and surveillance. I’m happiest in the worlds of Surveillance Studies and Urban Studies, but I also feel quite at home amongst Human Geographers and Sociologists. Having started off in History, I also tend to want to start by looking for the roots of phenomena and the long-term trajectories. But I’ve also been an environmental and social justice activist so I also want my research to be relevant and potentially lead to changes for the better. And as a science fiction fan, I like speculation too…

  • Surveillance Studies: history, technologies, politics, ethics and aesthetics of surveillance; international comparative studies; globalization of surveillance.
  • ‘Smart Cities’ and Pervasive / Ubiquitous / Ambient Computing: ethics, politics, space and place.
  • Urban Studies: global cities, particularly Tokyo and Rio de Janeiro.
  • Risk and (In)security: public safety and policing; war, disaster, terrorism and crime; resilience.
  • Literature and Film: depictions of surveillance and security, particularly in science fiction
  • Theory: critical geographical approaches; political economy / political sociology; aesthetics and visibility; actor-network theory, assemblage theory, complexity.


BA (hons) Modern History (St Anne’s College, Oxford, UK); MSc Rural Resource and Countryside Management (Newcastle, UK); PhD ‘The Hidden Geography of Transnational Surveillance’ (Newcastle).

I arrived at Queen’s in 2009 as the new Canada Research Chair (Tier 2) in Surveillance Studies and an Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology. I’ve just been renewed as CRC for a second and final 5-year term. In 2010, I was cross-appointed in the Department of Geography and more recently I became a member of the Cultural Studies program. I am also an active member of the Surveillance Studies Centre. Outside of Queen’s, I am Editor-in-Chief of Surveillance & Society, the international journal of surveillance studies, and a founder-member of the Surveillance Studies Network.

In 2013-14, I spent the year finishing work on surveillance in Tokyo that I have been pursuing since 2005. This was made possible through a sabbatical from Queen’s and a Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) Invitation Fellowship, working with Kiyoshi Abe of the Department of Sociology, Kwansei Gakuin University, Kobe, and a visiting position in the Graduate School of Business Information Ethics at Meiji University, Tokyo. I was also a visiting scholar in the Department of Aesthetics and Communication at the University of Aarhus, Denmark for two months earlier in 2013.

Before I came to Canada, until 2009, I was based in the Global Urban Research Unit at Newcastle University in the UK. I have also been a visiting scholar in the Postgraduate Program in Urban Management at the Pontifical Catholic University of Parana, Curitiba, Brazil (2009) and in the School of Social Sciences at Waseda University in Tokyo, Japan (2006).

Current Research Projects

1. My main work from 2014 for the next 5 years is a major SSHRC-funded critical study of ‘smart city’ initiatives in Canada, the USA and the UK, with a particular focus on their surveillance and security aspects. My collaborators for this project are Professor Steve Graham at GURU, Newcastle University (UK) and Professor Torin Monahan, UNC Chapel Hill (USA). The main graduate research student on this project is Michael Carter (see below).

2. I have been a collaborator on The New Transparency Major Collaborative Research Initiative, run out of the Surveillance Studies Centre here at Queen's, led by David Lyon. We are currently developing a proposal for a follow-up initiative.

Current Writing Projects

I am currently finishing my long-threatened book, The Watched World: Globalization and Surveillance, for Rowman & Littlefield. I am working on a number of outputs from my recent period of research in Japan including a major collection co-edited with Kiyoshi Abe for the Routledge / Nissan Institute Japanese Studies Series, and several articles. With Torin Monahan, I am developing a new Surveillance Studies Reader for Oxford University Press. I’ve been asked to develop a proposal for A Short History of Surveillance for Reaktion Books in the UK. I’m working on a number of articles on science fiction since 9/11. Finally, I am writing a number of exploratory theoretical articles including a piece on political theory of surveillance and a speculative piece on ubiquitous surveillance and urban life called ‘Ambient Government’ for ctheory. I intend to expand the latter into a book.


I am currently, or will soon be, supervising the follow students:

PhD Lead or Joint Supervisor:

  • Jeff Monaghan - Canadian ‘Security Aid’
  • Becky Pero (Geography) - Local Immigration Partnerships in Canada
  • Michael Carter (Geography) – Surveillance and Smart Cities
  • Debra Mackinnon – Sociology of urban security and surveillance
  • Spencer Revoy (Cultural Studies)
  • Ozge Girgin


  • Karen Au Yeung - Images of Asian Police Officers
  • Mark Mansour - Surveillance drones in Canada
  • William Lockrey - Surveillance and Neoliberalism
  • Colby Pereira – The implications of Edward Snowden’s revelations for Canada

BA: Tamrang Teo; Julie Davidson (Geography)

I am currently looking to supervise graduate students in the following areas:

  • Any aspect of surveillance.
  • Global comparative studies of surveillance, particularly in cities of the ‘global south.’
  • New and emerging technologies and urban social practices and culture, particularly ubiquitous computing, augmented reality etc.
  • Urban security and insecurity
  • Cross-overs between sociology and Cultural / Film Studies, particularly science fiction.

Please contact me to discuss your interests. The formal admission procedure can be accessed here.

I have supervised several foreign visiting students and I am very happy to work with visiting Masters and Doctoral students, Postdoctoral researchers and faculty, particularly from Europe, South America and East Asia. If you are interested, please contact the Surveillance Studies Centre.

Consultancy and Media

I have previously consulted for the Canadian Security Intelligence Review Committee (SIRC), the Canadian federal Office of the Privacy Commissioner (OPC), the UK Information Commissioner's Office (ICO), the UK House of Lords Constitution Committee, and the International Committee of Human Rights Policy (ICHRP) and I am happy to discuss consultancy needs in the areas of surveillance, urban security and human rights.

I also do a lot of public speaking and media work about surveillance issues, and am very happy to be contacted to give addresses, interviews or comment. Please contact me directly or go through Queen's Communications and Public Affairs.

Recent Publications

The New Transparency (2014) Transparent Lives: Surveillance in Canada / Vivre a nu: la surveillance au Canada, Athabasca University Press.

Murakami Wood, D. (2014) ‘Vanishing Surveillance: ghost-hunting in ubiquitous surveillance societies’, in K. Veel and H. Steiner (eds.), Negotiating (In)visibilities, New York / Bern: Peter Lang.

Murakami Wood, D. (2013) ‘What is Global Surveillance? Towards a Relational Political Economy of the Global Surveillant Assemblage’, Geoforum 49: 317–326.

Murakami Wood, D. (2013) ‘The security dimension’, in M. Acuto and W. Steele (eds.) Global City Challenges, Basingstoke UK: Palgrave.

Murakami Wood, D and Ball, K. (2013) ‘Brandscapes of Control: Surveillance, marketing and the co-construction of subjectivity and space in neo-liberal capitalism’, Marketing Theory 13(1): 47-67.

Murakami Wood, D. (2013) ‘Risk, Fear and Surveillance’ in P. Cloke, P. Crang and M. Godwin (eds.) Introducing Human Geographies (3rd ed.)

Murakami Wood, D. (2012) ‘Surveillance and Globalization’ in D. Lyon, K. Haggerty, and K. Ball (eds.) International Handbook of Surveillance Studies, London / New York: Routledge.

Murakami Wood, D. and Abe, K. (2012) ‘The Aesthetics of Control: Mega-Event and Urban Governance in Japan’, Urban Studies, special issue on The City, Sport Mega-Events and Security (eds. Richard Giulianotti and Francisco Klauser) 48(15): 3241-3258.

Lyon, D and D. Murakami Wood (2012) ‘Security, Surveillance, and Sociological Analysis’, Canadian Review of Sociology, 49(4): 317-327.