New book from DISE's Aziz Choudry, "Activists and the Surveillance State: Learning from Repression", is now available


Published: 20Dec2018

A new publication edited by Aziz Choudry, Activists and the Surveillance State: Learning from Repression, is now available for purchase from Pluto Press.

The use of secret police, security agencies and informers to spy on, disrupt and undermine opposition to the dominant political and economic order has a long history. This book reflects on the surveillance, harassment and infiltration that pervades the lives of activists, organisations and movements that are labelled as 'threats to national security'.

Activists and scholars from the UK, South Africa, Canada, the US, Australia and Aotearoa/New Zealand expose disturbing stories of political policing to question what lies beneath state surveillance. 

Problematizing the social amnesia that exists within progressive political networks and supposed liberal democracies, Activists and the Surveillance State shows that ultimately, movements can learn from their own repression, developing a critical and complex understanding of the nature of states, capital and democracy today that can inform the struggles of tomorrow.


Aziz Choudry is Associate Professor in the Department of Integrated Studies in Education at McGill University and a visiting professor at the Faculty of Education, University of Johannesburg, where he is affiliated to the Centre for Education Rights and Transformation. He is author or co-author of several books including Learning Activism:The Intellectual Life of Contemporary Social Movements(University of Toronto Press,2015), and co-editor of Learning from the Ground Up: Global Perspectives on Social Movements and Knowledge Production (Palgrave Macmillan, 2010), Just Work? Migrant Workers’ Struggles Today (Pluto Press, 2015) Unfree Labour? Struggles of Migrant and Immigrant Workers in Canada (2016,PM Press), and Reflections on Knowledge, Learning and Social Movements: History's Schools (Routledge, 2017). Choudry serves on the boards of the Immigrant Workers Centre, Montreal, and the Global Justice Ecology Project.

'Activists and the Surveillance State is a wide-ranging exploration of collective organizing in response to state and corporate surveillance. The book's rich discussion of what movements have learned, and failed to learn, about how surveillance works makes it a crucial reference for scholars and activists alike' - Arun Kundnani, author of The Muslims are Coming

'This important collection draws critical attention to the harms of state surveillance and police power, and how this power has been challenged and resisted by ordinary citizens. It is a must read for activists, community organisers and scholars alike' - Waqas Tufail, Leeds Beckett University

'Activists in social movements and others challenging the prevailing socio-economic and political structures will find in this book invaluable lessons and an effective antidote to the harassment, infiltration and 'dirty tricks' of agencies that uphold the interests of the corporate and political elite' - Salim Vally, University of Johannesburg

'By asking us to consider different histories of knowledge production and resistance, this book provides a nuanced and timely intervention in our ongoing reflections on confrontations with state security, and how they can be used for advancing radical political alternatives' - Dr Lina Dencik, Cardiff University

'An important intervention that moves us beyond assessments of the scale and scope of surveillance and securitisation to reflect on lessons learned from multiple global resistance movements. The contributions in this book prompt us to consider possibilities for more hopeful futures' - Nisha Kapoor, author of Deport, Deprive, Extradite: 21st Century State Extremism

[visit Pluto Press: Activists and the Surveillance State: Learning from Repression, edited by Aziz Choudry]