Technological Politics and EU Border Security: An Inquiry into the Ontology and Agency of Large-Scale Surveillance Systems

Guest Lecture Series
26 febbraio 2019
26 febbraio 2019
Scuola di Studi Internazionali - Program Office
Via Tommaso Gar, 14 I-38122 Trento
+39 0461 283125
+39 0461 283152

Luogo: Scuola di Studi Internazionali, Palazzo Paolo Prodi, via T. Gar 14 Trento, Aula 001
Orario: dalle 14.15 alle 16.00

  • Guest Speaker

Georgios Glouftsios, Scuola di Studi Internazionali


In the post-9/11 world, governments in Europe and North America seem to suffer from a post-traumatic stress disorder: they are obsessed with risks stemming from international mobility, allocating large amounts of public funds for the development of technologies that are envisaged to revolutionise practices and processes of border security. This leads to a situation where security controls on subjects (e.g. travellers, migrants) and objects (e.g. cargo, shipments) crossing borders depend heavily on high-tech artefacts and infrastructures. Databases, predictive algorithms, earth observation satellites, drones, explosive detection devices, body scanners, and high-tech walls are only some examples of security technologies that have received increasing scholarly attention. In the EU context specifically, several studies have dwelled on the deployment of Information and Communications Technologies (ICTs) that facilitate the gathering, processing and sharing of data on supposedly suspect mobilities; rendering them intelligible, calculable and governable by security apparatuses. My presentation will critically engage with these developments by focusing on the design, use, and operational management of large-scale surveillance systems deployed for border security, migration management and law enforcement purposes in the EU. The empirical discussion on how such systems are designed, used and operated - as well as the conceptualisation of these processes through a productive synthesis of ideas introduced by the Actor-Network Theory tradition, the New Materialisms movement, and Critical Security Studies - will allow us to better understand the ontology of these technologies (what kinds of machines they are) and agency (what kinds of socio-political effects they produce).

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