Under her eye: Digital drag as obfuscation and countersurveillance

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Among drag queens, it is common to post screenshots comically highlighting moments in which Facebook incorrectly tags their photos as one another, suggesting that drag makeup offers a unique method for confusing facial recognition algorithms. Drawing on queer, trans, and new media theories, this article considers the ways in which drag serves as a form of informational obfuscation, by adding “noise” in the form of over-the-top makeup and social media profiles that feature semi-fictional names, histories, and personal information. Further, by performing identities that are highly visible, are constantly changing, and engage complex forms of authenticity through modes of camp and realness, drag queens disrupt many common understandings about the users and uses of popular technologies, assumptions of the integrity of data, and even approaches to ensuring privacy. In this way, drag offers both a culturally specific framework for conceptualizing queer and trans responses to surveillance and a potential toolkit for avoiding, thwarting, or mitigating digital observation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)681-698
Number of pages18
JournalSurveillance & Society
Issue number5
StatePublished - Dec 10 2019
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Safety Research
  • Urban Studies


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