2023 Political Studies Graduate Students Association (PSGSA) Graduate Conference | June 26, 2023

Emerging Technologies in the Age of Digital Censorship, Surveillance, and Repression

CALL FOR ABSTRACTS | Deadline: Monday, May 15, 2023 


The proliferation of new and emerging technologies by state and non-state actors has significantly changed global and domestic politics in the 21st century. From the Arab Spring to the more recent Hashtag protests mediated from the digital spaces, mass mobilization for non-violent actions is aimed at holding leaders accountable, demanding social changes, making claims for reforms and overhauling existing societal structures, systems, and institutions.

The aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic has further highlighted the need to better harness the powers of emerging technologies to address global and local challenges. On one hand, the proliferation of emerging technologies offers high hopes for enhancing democratisation and promoting human rights through non-violent collective actions and the international exposure of political repression. On the other hand, as with several examples across the world, digital technologies can also be a tool for liberal and authoritarian governments to punish critical voices and dissenters by converting such technologies into tools of state censorship, disinformation, surveillance, and repression. Thus, while digital technologies have the potential to positively improve governance structures and human rights, repressive and weak governments have used technologies against their citizens, to prevent or more easily disperse political rallies and protests by extensively monitoring the digital communications of social movements.

Digital technologies are also changing how we approach, plan, and integrate security operations. For example, they are vital in the sphere of Command, Control, Communication, Computers, Intelligence, Information, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance systems (C4I2R). The situational understanding provided by these emerging technologies underpins security operations, from providing situational awareness to gathering intelligence and making informed decisions. Utilizing these emerging technologies has the potential to enhance global development.


We are inviting submissions from graduate students on topics that interrogate the use of emerging technologies by different political actors. The conference will be in a hybrid format. Participants can either join in-person at Queen’s University or online via Zoom.

The keynote speaker will be Dr. Seva Gunitsky (Associate Professor, University of Toronto).

Some Proposed Sub-topics:

  • Theoretical Explorations of Emerging Technologies and Digital Authoritarianism
  • Surveillance and Repression in a Digital Age
  • Technology, Human Rights and Repression
  • Digital Censorship, Repression, and Democracy
  • Online Activism in the Age of Surveillance
  • Digital Technology and National Security

Please submit an abstract of no more than 250 words to: Proposals that do not necessarily fit within the proposed sub-topics will also be considered.