Sophia Goodfriend

The ethics and impact of new surveillance technologies

I am a PhD candidate at Duke University’s Department of Cultural Anthropology and Fulbright-Hays Dissertation Fellow. Currently based in Jerusalem, my academic work examines the ethics and impact of new surveillance technologies.

Alongside my academic work, I work as an independent researcher with civil society organizations in the region and as a freelance journalist. My writing on warfare, automation, and digital rights has appeared in Foreign Policy, The Baffler, +972 Magazine, The Boston Review, among other outlets.  Before begining my PhD, I recieved a Masters in Social Sciences from the University of Chicago and a BA in American Studies (summa cum laude) from Tufts University. My inbox is open for commissions. 

Current Research

The ability of governments and companies to surveil everyday life has never been greater.  Digital surveillance, biometric monitoring, and smartphone tracking enable the state and corporations to mine personal data, often at the cost of fundamental civil liberties. My dissertation asks what drives the expansion of surveillance as such, and examines how these technologies impact everyday life across diverse communities in Israel/Palestine.

My multi-sited ethnographic research takes place among digital rights activists and communities subjected to intensive tracking as well as engineers, entrepreneurs, and policy-makers developing and implementing biometric and digital surveillance.  As a cultural anthropologist, I ask how technological systems affect lived experience. I strive to understand what makes people, and the institutions they compose, invest in or contest these technologies.

My research has practical and theoretical implications. Ethnographically, I am concerned with the kind of humanity at stake in new surveillance regimes. Practically, my research aims to help policymakers implement biometric and digital monitoring ethically, without eroding essential civil and political rights. 

Academic Articles

A Street View of Occupation:
Getting Around Hebron on Google Maps 

Visual Anthropology Review, Fall 2021

Forthcoming Spring 2022

Drone Warfare's Redemptive Refrains

Drone Aesthetics: War, Culture, Ecology
London: Open Humanities Press
Popular Press (select list)

Israel’s Far Right Could Escalate Drone Warfare Against Palestinians

Foreign Policy

Point. Click. Occupy. 

The Baffler

How the Occupation Fuels Tel Aviv’s Booming AI Sector

Foreign Policy

Cyberespionage with Benefits

Boston Review

When Palestinian Political Speech Is “Incitement”

Jewish Currents

The gamified occupation

Jewish Currents

The banality of surveillance

The Boston Review

The start-up spy state

+972 Magazine

‘We violated people’s privacy for a living’: How Israel’s cyber army went corporate

+972 Magazine

Naked Gun

Jewish Currents


Why Are Israeli Defense Forces Soldiers Posting Thirst Traps on TikTok?

Rolling Stone

A Political Road Not Taken in America

The New York Times

Unregulated Israeli spyware is a global threat, experts warn

The Middle East Eye

Online Webinar, March 2022

Under surveillance


Online Webinar, December 2021

Whose watching:  Surveillance in Jerusalem and the west Bank

Ir Amim-City of Nations

Online Webinar, November 2021

Welcome to the panopticon

The Institute for Middle East Peace

Washington D.C. (moved online), October 2020

Google Ayosh 

Middle Eastern Studies Association Annual Meeting

Prague, CZ (moved online), August 2020

Big Data’s Shadow Archive

Society for Social Studies of Science Annual Meeting

Sheffield, UK, February 2021

BioPower’s Promise 

The Aesthetics of Drone Warfare,
An International Research Conference at the University of Sheffield

New Orleans, USA November 2019

A Street View of Hebron

Middle Eastern Studies Association Annual Meeting

Berlin, Germany August 2019

Everyday Affects of Surveillance 

3rd <Interrupted=cyfem and queer> a convergence curated by the Creamcake Collective

Chicago, IL, May 2017

Affective Interruptions on Birthright Israel

Master’s Program in Social Sciences Graduate Student Research Conference

Milwaukee, WI, May 2017

Anxious Itineraries

The Big No-A Center for 21st Century Conference
at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Medford, MA October 2015

Jewish American Identity/Politics

Tufts University American Studies Shapiro Award Reception

Medford, MA, August 2014

Sylvia Wynter and Cultural Criticism 

Tufts University Summer Scholars Symposium