[SIGCIS-Members] Mahoney Prize for 2020

Melanie Swalwell mswalwell at swin.edu.au
Sun Oct 25 16:00:13 PDT 2020

Dear all,

On behalf of the SIGCIS Executive, it is my pleasure to announce that the 2020 Mahoney Prize has been awarded to Dr Oliver Belcher for his essay "Sensing, Territory, Population: Computation, Embodied Sensors, and Hamlet Control in the Vietnam War".

The citation:
Belcher, Oliver. "Sensing, Territory, Population: Computation, Embodied Sensors, and Hamlet Control in the Vietnam War," Security Dialogue 50.5, 416-436 (2019).
Oliver Belcher - a geographer and Assistant Professor in the Department of Geography and the School of Government and International Affairs at Durham University - has written a remarkable history of the Hamlet Evaluation System (HES) created and deployed by the U.S. military during the Vietnam War. As Belcher details, the story of HES is an important episode both in the history of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and in the history of U.S. "pacification" actions in Vietnam. Particularly striking are Belcher's arguments that U.S. military advisors acted as "embodied sensors" for HES, and that their transformations of the realities of village life into the data format of HES constituted a form of "epistemic violence" implicated in the broader landscape of physical violence during the war. In this, Belcher positions his study as a contribution to a "history of computers as a technology of imperial violence."

As SIGCIS did not have an official presence at the SHOT meeting this year, committee member Elizabeth Petrick announced the prize at the "Just Code" virtual conference over the weekend.

I would like to thank the 2020 Prize Committee - David Brock, Hyungsub Choi, and Elizabeth Petrick -- for their service, as well as the organisers of "Just Code" for accommodating the announcement in their program.

For those who aren't aware, the Mahoney Prize honours the late Princeton scholar Michael S. Mahoney, by recognising an outstanding article in the history of computing and information technology, broadly conceived. There is more information about the prize on the website, including past recipients: https://www.sigcis.org/mahoneyprize

I am sure you will all join with me in congratulating Oliver!



Melanie Swalwell
Professor of Digital Media Heritage
Co-Chair, SIGCIS<http://www.sigcis.org/>

Centre for Transformative Media Technologies
Faculty of Health, Arts and Design
Swinburne University
PO Box 218, Hawthorn Vic 3122 Australia

Tel +61 3 9214 3911
mswalwell at swin.edu.au

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