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Police espionage in eighteenth-century Paris: A historical look at surveillance

Wednesday, April 7, 2021
12:30 AM – 2:00 PM
Online event
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Surveillance Studies Centre Seminar

Since its foundation in 1667, a principal concern of the Paris police was the surveillance of foreigners travelling and staying in the city. By the late eighteenth-century, this network was used by the French foreign ministry to spy on suspect individuals. The Paris police developed a comprehensive network of informants to spy on almost all foreigners who were in the city and they placed spies in the households of prominent foreign aristocrats and infiltrated numerous societies to gather valuable information. In a less sinister endeavour, this surveillance is also an example of a state attempting to collect systematic information on a population. This presentation will unpack the police network that blanketed Paris and consider the historical relationship between surveillance, decision-making, and state-building.

About the speaker:

Sean Marrs (link is external)is a PhD Candidate in History under the supervision of Dr Andrew Jainchill. His doctoral research looks at the history of state surveillance and espionage in eighteenth-century France and considers the work of the Paris police in tracking foreign tourists, diplomats, and spies who lived in the city. He was also the winner of the 2020 Matariki Network of Universities Three Minute Thesis Competition.

delano Aragao Vaz
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