Is Edward Snowden a traitor? Or a hero? Is his disloyality to a sovereign power to be seen as anti-totalitarian resistance? Or does whistleblowing risk a dangerous system implosion? Do we actually want the system to implode? Those are critical, political questions that have arisen with the cases of Snowden and Assange, but that are not new to the discourses of surveillance and resistance.
But what is new indeed, is that these whistleblowers acted in organizational environments, that are more flexible, dynamic and pressuring than ever. Thereby, the individual does not only become more governable, but new, unknown spaces for (on-/offline) resistance open up.
Chris Shore and Steven Sampson have issued a proposal for panel for the American Anthropological Association Annual Meetings in Washington, DC, Nov. 29-Dec. 3 2017.
Under the title ‚Beyond Snowden: The anthropology of whistleblowing‘ they want to explore whistleblowing policies, practices, discourses, implications and scandals, including retaliation, protection, and organizational disloyalty are welcome, hence focusing on agency, actor-networks and organizational structures, in which whistleblowing is embedded.
Whistleblowing, exposing confidential, secret or illegal practices in firms, organizations and public authorities, has been viewed as a heroic act on the part of individuals who risk their jobs and even legal prosecution to expose their employers. Seen from the organization’s perspective, the whistleblower is a disloyal employee, who should have gone through proper channels to reveal ethical or legal shortcomings instead of going public. Since employees in modern workplaces are now more flexible and less loyal, since we are encouraged to promote greater transparency and disclosure in all aspects of business and government administration, and with social media exposure a few clicks away, the potential and risks posed by whistleblowers have increased exponentially. Faced with the whistleblowing threat and pressure to institutionalize whistleblowing procedures, firms, organizations and governments can choose to become more transparent, but they can also retaliate against whistleblowers with legal measures or worse. NGOs and government agencies can now also offer whistleblowers legal support against retaliation or even financial rewards. In an era of secrecy and surveillance, of disclosure and exposure, the era of Snowden, Chelsea Manning, Wikileaks and the Panama Papers, this panel proposes an anthropology of whistleblowing. Papers on whistleblowing policies, practices, discourses, implications and scandals, including retaliation, protection, and organizational disloyalty are welcome.
Please send an abstract ASAP to: