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Surveilling Stereotypes:

Banting Fellowship Enables New Research at Queen’s

November, 2015

by Karl Hardy

Dr. Scott Thompson

Banting Post-Doctoral Fellow Dr. Scott Thompson, Surveillance Studies Centre

Queen’s University is fortunate to host Dr. Scott Thompson who was awarded a Banting Postdoctoral Fellowship this past April. These prestigious scholarships are only offered to 69 scholars annually, and seek to provide support to the most promising scholars and research projects from across Canada and internationally. Scott is actually now in his third year here at Queen’s, after winning a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) postdoctoral fellowship that funded his work for his first two years. His research will continue to be pursued in association within the Surveillance Studies Centre under the supervision of Dr. David Lyon, with whom he had worked during his first two years of postdoctoral study. Scott came to Queen’s after completing his PhD in Sociology at the University of Alberta under the supervision of Dr. Kevin Haggerty (Criminology/Sociology).

“I’ve been very fortunate to have an incredibly supportive environment. The Surveillance Studies Centre at Queen’s is definitely a leader, both in Canada and world-wide,” Scott says. “Its a hub of cutting edge research and draws in some of the most innovative and dynamic scholars in surveillance studies. For example, the Centre’s (biweekly) speaker series often attracts top international scholars, which gives Queen’s access to the cutting-edge research of leaders in the field. There is now also Queen’s University Archives which houses the Surveillance Studies Special Collection, which affords scholars and students access to historical examples of surveillance technologies such as ID cards and ledgers, and provides us place to preserve and share these histories.”

Scott also credits his supervisor, Dr. Lyon. “He’s been incredibly supportive, ensuring that I have the resources that I need, and teaching experience. Dr. Lyon is profoundly knowledgeable, and our regular meetings have been greatly beneficial. This is really an ideal situation for me at this stage in my academic career,” he says. “I look forward to collaborating with Dr. Lyon and Dr. Murakami Wood as part of the Surveillance Studies Centre’s new Big Data Surveillance (SSHRC) project.”

Scott’s research is currently focused on negative stereotypes towards First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples in Canada. His work is aimed at identifying misconceptions and stereotypes, and tracing them back to historical practices, specifically looking at how the legal category of “Indian” and state-based surveillance technologies contributed to the production and prevalence of hurtful stereotypes. This research has developed out of Scott’s prior work into how the historical surveillance practices of the LCBO with respect to Indigenous consumers contributed to the trope of the “drunken Indian.”

Metal tags like this one enabled government surveillance and regulation of First Nations fishing practices in 1920s BC.

Metal tags like this one enabled government surveillance and regulation of First Nations fishing practices in 1920s BC.

“For me, what’s perhaps most important is the idea of knowledge mobilization. I want to work with educators to produce class-ready lesson plans so that students can learn about these historical practices, the origins of these stereotypes, and come to recognize their effects on the here and now,” says Scott.  “I’m very grateful to have the privilege to pursue this work, and also to have the opportunity to refine my teaching skills here at Queen’s as part of my postdoc.”

Indeed, during his time at Queen’s Scott has taught the foundational Introduction to Surveillance Studies, a third year undergraduate course, alongside opportunities to guest lecture in additional upper year undergraduate courses, as well as a graduate seminar. He also was able to serve as supervisor of an undergraduate thesis which he describes “extremely fascinating” that focused on public surveillance practices surrounding childhood obesity. This January Scott will be teaching a third year Crime and Delinquency undergraduate course.

Scott lives here in Kingston with his partner and loves the size of the city, especially it’s walkability and easy access to both major cities and what he calls some “good hiking.” Having only recently taken up the Banting fellowship, Scott is focused on the pursuit of his research goals, but he’s excited about future prospects for research and teaching positions, noting that he’d love to stay here at Queen’s, but that he’s intrigued by the possibilities for academic positions across Canada and internationally.

Further links:

Surveillance Studies Network