Street mirrors, surveillance, and urban communities in early modern Finland

Timo Ylimaunu, James Symonds, Anna-Kaisa Salmi, Risto Nurmi, Titta Kallio-Seppä , Tiina Kuokkanen, Annemari Tranberg, Paul R. Mullins

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This article discusses street mirrors or ‘gossip mirrors’, in terms of urban social relations and surveillance. Street mirrors were introduced to coastal towns in Sweden and Finland in the 18th and early 19th centuries and may still be found in well-preserved towns with historic wooden centres. The authors argue that the introduction of monitoring and spying devices, such as street mirrors, occurred in the 18th century due to increased urban populations and feelings of insecurity caused by greater regional and transnational mobility. Mirrors, in this sense, were one
material mechanism in the process of modernization and the development of individuality.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)145-167
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Material Culture
Issue number2
Early online date20 Feb 2014
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2014


  • Gossip
  • Identity
  • Individuality
  • Street mirrors
  • Surveillance

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