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Published on May 22, 2012
Privacy has become a flashpoint of contemporary American life. But it would be a mistake to treat "privacy" as an abstraction, unmoored by time, circumstance, and place. Watch video of Sarah E. Igo's talk which investigates one of the key terms of U.S. political culture, charting the diverse ways privacy has emerged as a public concern across the twentieth century. Precisely because privacy has been billed as a personal possession, outside the domain of the state or politics, its history offers an illuminating window onto the social strains of modern citizenship.
Sarah E. Igo is a graduate of Harvard and Princeton, who teaches and writes about modern American cultural and intellectual history. Her first book, The Averaged American, explores the relationship between survey data—opinion polls, sex surveys, consumer research—and modern understandings of self and nation.
The winner of multiple prizes, it was also an Editor's Choice selection of the New York Times and one of Slate's Best Books of 2007. Igo has held fellowships from the Institute for Advanced Study, the American Council of Learned Societies, the Whiting Foundation, the Woodrow Wilson Foundation, and the Mellon Foundation. She also founded and co-directs the National Forum on the Future of Liberal Education, a national-level initiative to promote the liberal arts.