Tudor Sala

Junior Thyssen Fellow (supported by the Fritz Thyssen Foundation)
Period of Stay: 
September 2016 – June 2017
Religious Studies
Freie Universität, Germany
Project Title: 
Surveillant Antiquities: Religion and the Invention of the Surveillance Society in the Ancient World
Project Abstract: 

The current debate over ‘surveillance’ takes place almost exclusively in the long shadow cast by such thinkers on modernity as George Orwell and Michel Foucault. Mesmerized and menaced by conceptual clichés such as Panopticon and Big Brother, policy makers and the general public remain oblivious to the earliest designs and models of organized interpersonal supervision. Yet centuries, if not millennia, before today’s surveillance dystopias, there is tantalizing evidence for the construction of various models of social and individual transparency. My project sheds light on the complex practices, strategies, and imaginaires of total religious surveillance in the ancient and late ancient world. Using literary, documentary, artistic, and archaeological evidence, it intends to identify the ingredients of these disciplinary revolutions in the ancient world, trace the struggles and resistance they generated, and explore how various concepts of religious surveillance changed social interaction and the construction of the self.