‘Mademoiselle Albertine is gone’: the epistemological desires & deceptions of embedded intimate surveillance

Hastie, Katy (2019) ‘Mademoiselle Albertine is gone’: the epistemological desires & deceptions of embedded intimate surveillance. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

Due to Embargo and/or Third Party Copyright restrictions, this thesis is not available in this service.

Abstract

In 2010 The Guardian revealed undercover police officers (known as ‘deep swimmers’) had conducted long-term deceptive intimate relationships with women activists. Subsequently, this practice is now known to have affected multiple woman stretching back several decades. Counter to the Metropolitan Police force’s official initial response that these relationships were occasional indiscretions and ordinary intimate deceptions, this thesis contends that these relationships were, at best, a common patriarchal tendency officers relied upon to aid cover, or, at worst, a systemic side-effect or outcome of a monetized biopolitical and disciplinary strategy of covert policing that violated the private intimacy and political freedom of multiple activists in protest groups around the UK to traumatic effect, leaving survivors such as ‘Jacqui’ feeling as if they had been ‘raped by the state’. It’s hard to comprehend how such invasive political policing of left-wing women activists on this scale could become possible without acknowledging that sexism, surveillance and capitalism simultaneously converged on personal and political scales in such a way that global political economic conditions had profound effects on individual human relationships. Approaching this issue from the feminist perspective of ‘The Global Intimate’ and Sara Ahmed’s Cultural Politics of Emotion this multi-disciplinary creative and critical thesis combines psychoanalytic and sociological perspectives to draw on theories regarding trauma and affect theory, the Gaze and Panopticism, Biopolitics, Surveillance Capitalism and heterophathic identification to understand the impact and significance of these relationships. In particular, this thesis turns to an unusual literary source, Proust’s À la Recherche du temps perdu to better understand the motivations behind intimate surveillance and its destructive effects, before examining more broadly the ethical and aesthetic considerations of depicting these events in my novel.
Researching the traumatic experience of survivors of deceptive intimate relationships with undercover police officers ignited an unsettling line of questions that I returned to in researching and writing my novel, and that I explore critically in this thesis: How had the relational intimacy of left-wing women activists come to be so violated, exploited and subjugated by the Metropolitan Police as an apparatus of governmentality and policing? What do these cases expose about the surveillance power of the state and our freedom within it? What does it expose about our attachments, particularly love relationships, that such deception could exist? And, finally, how could this traumatic experience be ethically explored and aesthetically communicated by a creative work? In conclusion, I consider if these cases offer a larger warning regarding the future of protest and the affective communities they rely upon, but also signal the affective exploitation that biopolitical strategies of Surveillance Capitalism will make increasingly possible in the future.
In contrast to these critical explorations, my novel ‘Between Us’, focuses on the plight of pregnant activist Sara as she recovers from nearly drowning on a small Scottish island. Traumatised by her experience of embedded intimate surveillance, this feminist political horror story concerning love follows her journey as she recovers at local resident Brigid’s house haunted by flashbacks of her ex-lover Ruth and fellow activist Simon, trying to determine if they were police spies. Told in a series of dissociative flashbacks that figure her temporal whiplash, Sara imagines her ex-lover Ruth speaking in the first person ’I’ observing Sara as ‘you’. This mirrored narrative perspective becomes a depersonalized vehicle for Sara to process her heteropathic reliance on Ruth and the identity-shaking consequences of discovering the extent of her betrayal. The story is also bookended by juxtaposing ‘official’ accounts of these events, firstly from police interviews with Simon and lastly by transcripts of the public inquiry into undercover policing that Sara attempts to seek justice from.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Surveillance, spycops, undercover policing scandal, affect theory, trauma theory, surveillance capitalism, consent, target hardening, COINTELPro.
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PR English literature
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts > School of Critical Studies > English Literature
Funder's Name: Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC)
Supervisor's Name: Strachan, Dr. Zoё and John, Dr. Coyle
Date of Award: 2019
Embargo Date: 19 December 2022
Depositing User: Dr Katy Hastie
Unique ID: glathesis:2019-77856
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 20 Dec 2019 16:17
Last Modified: 05 Mar 2020 22:11
Thesis DOI: 10.5525/gla.thesis.77856
URI: http://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/77856

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