Midori Ogasawara

Midori Ogasawara
Assistant Professor

PhD (Queen’s University, 2018), Banting Postdoctoral Fellow (University of Ottawa, 2019-20)

Office: COR A365

Midori Ogasawara joined the Department of Sociology as an Assistant Professor in January 2021. Before joining the University of Victoria, Dr. Ogasawara was a Banting Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Ottawa. Her academic interests focus on social consequences of surveillance, identification, personal data, biometrics and other information communication technologies, including media and memory. Her postdoctoral project investigates collaborative relationship between security intelligence agencies and big data corporations and analyzes how the collaboration has been redrawing the legal boundary of mass surveillance in Canada, by legalizing previously illegal surveillance. The research proposal for the 2018-2019 Banting competition was ranked second out of the 181 applications reviewed by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

Dr. Ogasawara completed her PhD in the Department of Sociology at Queen’s University in 2018, under the supervision of Dr. David Lyon, the Director of Surveillance Studies Centre at Queen’s. Her PhD dissertation “Bodies as Risky Resources: The Japanese Identification Systems as Surveillance, Population Control and Colonial Violence in Occupied Northeast China” explores a historical trajectory of today’s biometric technologies. Japan implemented fingerprinting, the forerunner of biometrics, when it occupied Northeast China in 1931-1945. Ogasawara conducted archival and ethnographical research in China and interviewed the colonial survivors and their family members who faced violent acts of Japan’s intensive policing and surveillance. A summary of this research was published in Making Surveillance States: Transnational Histories, edited by Robert Heynen and Emily van der Meulen (2019, University of Toronto Press).

Obtaining her first degree in law, Dr. Ogasawara was a staff writer for Japan’s national newspaper The Asahi Shimbun, and was engaged in investigative journalism on surveillance technologies, Japan’s sex slavery during the Second World War, and the US military bases in Okinawa. She was awarded the Fulbright Journalist Scholarship and John S. Knight Professional Journalism Fellowships at Stanford University in 2004-2005. In 2016, she became the first Japanese researcher who interviewed the US National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden via a video channel, which resulted in publishing two books (2016, 2019) on the NSA’s secret activities in Japan and Japan’s involvement in global surveillance systems. She is also an author of three other books, six book chapters and two peer-reviewed journal articles (Surveillance & Society, The Journal of Contemporary Eastern Asia). She is currently writing a monthly column “Data, Surveillance and Me” for The Asahi Shimbun web magazine GLOBE+.