Borders and technologies / Frontières et technologies
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Borders and technologies / Frontières et technologies

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Atelier 3 - Gabriel Popescu ...

Atelier 3 - Gabriel Popescu

Mobility imperatives under globalization are profoundly altering borders’ relationship to space. Risk management strategies associated with the quest to securitize transnational mobility have triggered a technological race to embed borders into all kinds of flows in order for the border to be able to travel with the flow and be ready to be performed whenever circumstances require. With the help of technologies such as Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) borders are disembedded from their local contexts, projected at distance, and then re-embedded anywhere in the state territory. Such articulation of borders changes the way movement through space is organized and how people and places come into contact. This “portal-like” logic of border geography brings people and places together by connecting them directly across space, unlike modern border territoriality that connects them via contiguous state territories. This situation opens up the entire space of the globe to bordering processes, thus accelerating the proliferation of borders and multiplying the actors involved in their establishment. The implications for society of such novel border spatiality are paramount. It is vital to understand how is democratic participation to be spatially reorganized to assure border governance remains in the public domain.

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Borders and technologies / Frontières et technologies Borders and technologies / Frontières et technologies Document Transcript

  • 6/1/2013 1 RemoteRemote Control Technologies andControl Technologies and the Production of Topologicalthe Production of Topological Border SpacesBorder Spaces Gabriel Popescu, Ph.D. Indiana University South Bend April 2012, Marseille Research contextResearch context The major borderThe major border--making dilemmamaking dilemma in the 21in the 21stst century is to reconcilecentury is to reconcile unimpeded mobilityunimpeded mobility andand reliablereliable security in order to enable the coexistence ofsecurity in order to enable the coexistence of territorially bounded states with global flows.territorially bounded states with global flows. This implies the emergence of a global border regime of technologyThis implies the emergence of a global border regime of technology--enabledenabled selective permeabilityselective permeability:: state borders behaving likestate borders behaving like membranesmembranes oror firewallsfirewalls,, allowing movement for some but not for others.allowing movement for some but not for others. To achieve this in practice is to remote control everybody and everything thatTo achieve this in practice is to remote control everybody and everything that moves across space. More borders, of more kinds, in more places, at moremoves across space. More borders, of more kinds, in more places, at more times than before, increase the power to order peopletimes than before, increase the power to order people’’s lives just as theses lives just as these lives become more spatially mobile.lives become more spatially mobile. Research goalsResearch goals Understanding what kind of border spaces remote control borders make?Understanding what kind of border spaces remote control borders make? How are these border spaces impacting the nature of power relationships inHow are these border spaces impacting the nature of power relationships in society, as well as the prospects of democratic life in the 21society, as well as the prospects of democratic life in the 21stst century?century? Research context: the Security ParadigmResearch context: the Security Paradigm Transnational mobility, that can originate both inside as well as outside aTransnational mobility, that can originate both inside as well as outside a statestate’’s territory, has diminished the role of state borders to differentiates territory, has diminished the role of state borders to differentiate between internal and external threats.between internal and external threats. AA key outcome is that security issues are increasingly understood as separatedkey outcome is that security issues are increasingly understood as separated from the institution of the state and more directly connected to the life of thefrom the institution of the state and more directly connected to the life of the individual. Theindividual. The mobilitiesmobilities of everyday life constitute the security risks thatof everyday life constitute the security risks that have to be controlled now.have to be controlled now. TheThe result is a border regime in which worldwide mass surveillance practicesresult is a border regime in which worldwide mass surveillance practices are justified as necessary evils to secure social lifeare justified as necessary evils to secure social life.. Research contextResearch context: Risk management Seeing everyday life in terms of security risks increases the relativity ofSeeing everyday life in terms of security risks increases the relativity of security as a category. One can never go far enough to secure everyday lifesecurity as a category. One can never go far enough to secure everyday life from all risks. Thus, instead of protecting against explicit threats, securityfrom all risks. Thus, instead of protecting against explicit threats, security becomes a matter of risk management.becomes a matter of risk management. Risk management is much like predicting the unknown; it takes moreRisk management is much like predicting the unknown; it takes more imaginationimagination andand speculationspeculation rather than factrather than fact--based analysis. Risks are in thebased analysis. Risks are in the realm of probabilities. They are about events that did not happen but that canrealm of probabilities. They are about events that did not happen but that can potentially happen.potentially happen. In other words,In other words, risks have to berisks have to be ““extractedextracted”” fromfrom surveillance activities.surveillance activities. Deciding which of the numerous risks people face in their daily livesDeciding which of the numerous risks people face in their daily lives constitutes an existential threat to society is an elusive issue => opens up theconstitutes an existential threat to society is an elusive issue => opens up the space for the politicization of risk.space for the politicization of risk. Research context: Embodying bordersResearch context: Embodying borders The human body has long been a subject of bordering practices. However,The human body has long been a subject of bordering practices. However, until recently the body has eluded unmitigated control. It has remained auntil recently the body has eluded unmitigated control. It has remained a loosely governed frontier space, trespassed by many power practices but alsoloosely governed frontier space, trespassed by many power practices but also populated by many resistance movements.populated by many resistance movements. Risk management strategies associated with the quest to securitizeRisk management strategies associated with the quest to securitize transnational mobility have triggered a technological race to close thistransnational mobility have triggered a technological race to close this ultimate frontier.ultimate frontier. The belief is that mobile risks can be efficiently estimated from mobile bodiesThe belief is that mobile risks can be efficiently estimated from mobile bodies and efficiently eliminated along the way so that traffic flows are not disruptedand efficiently eliminated along the way so that traffic flows are not disrupted at the border.at the border.
  • 6/1/2013 2 Research context: Embodying bordersResearch context: Embodying borders If borders are about achieving power through the ordering of difference inIf borders are about achieving power through the ordering of difference in space, then the diffusion of bordering strategies to the smallest and mostspace, then the diffusion of bordering strategies to the smallest and most personal of spacespersonal of spaces -- the bodythe body -- appears natural.appears natural. The body makes the ideal border, as it is always at hand, ready to beThe body makes the ideal border, as it is always at hand, ready to be performed whenever circumstances require. Embodied borders are highlyperformed whenever circumstances require. Embodied borders are highly mobile and utterly individual, allowing accurate movement control at themobile and utterly individual, allowing accurate movement control at the smallest spatial scale.smallest spatial scale. Biometrics:Biometrics: the bodythe body--borderborder--identity connectionidentity connection TheThe use of biometrics is predicated upon the need to verify a personuse of biometrics is predicated upon the need to verify a person’’ss identity to confirm that they are who they say they are. Underlining theiridentity to confirm that they are who they say they are. Underlining their appeal is the assumption that a personappeal is the assumption that a person’’s identity makes a good risk predictor,s identity makes a good risk predictor, providing the basis to calculate the risk an individual poses to society.providing the basis to calculate the risk an individual poses to society. At theAt the border, theborder, the body works much like abody works much like a password:password: a persona person’’s identity wills identity will be digitally read from their body part and checked against the data stored inbe digitally read from their body part and checked against the data stored in databases or on passportdatabases or on passport chips to verifychips to verify theirtheir identity.identity. TheThe end product is a computer generated identity that nobody reallyend product is a computer generated identity that nobody really understands but that everybody has tounderstands but that everybody has to trust. This is not the identity of atrust. This is not the identity of a person as a social being, but the identity of an object that has been renderedperson as a social being, but the identity of an object that has been rendered knowable.knowable. Remote control:Remote control: the borderthe border--mobility connectionmobility connection RFID refers to electronic devices capable of transmitting informationRFID refers to electronic devices capable of transmitting information containing the identity an object or a person wirelessly, using radio waves.containing the identity an object or a person wirelessly, using radio waves. AnAn RFID device, called a tag, consists of a microchip storing identifiableRFID device, called a tag, consists of a microchip storing identifiable information in the form of a unique numeric code and a miniature antennainformation in the form of a unique numeric code and a miniature antenna that transmits information to a computerized reading system.that transmits information to a computerized reading system. At the border, RFID devices are used as a mean to transmit wirelessly theAt the border, RFID devices are used as a mean to transmit wirelessly the biometrics stored in the chips embedded in travel documents.biometrics stored in the chips embedded in travel documents. Remote control:Remote control: the borderthe border--mobility connectionmobility connection The appeal of RFID technology consists in the possibility of remoteThe appeal of RFID technology consists in the possibility of remote control identification while on the move. This reduces transactions costscontrol identification while on the move. This reduces transactions costs and speeds up flows by minimizing human intervention.and speeds up flows by minimizing human intervention. Remote control technology givesRemote control technology gives state bordersstate borders spatial mobilityspatial mobility.. In thisIn this way, bordersway, borders evade the norms of territorial linearity and are moreevade the norms of territorial linearity and are more territorially fluid, thus more adapted to a geography of flowsterritorially fluid, thus more adapted to a geography of flows.. TheThe border becomes embedded in the flow and thus travels with theborder becomes embedded in the flow and thus travels with the flow. This way, flows can be scrutinized along the entire journey from theflow. This way, flows can be scrutinized along the entire journey from the point of origin to the point of arrivalpoint of origin to the point of arrival..
  • 6/1/2013 3 Territorializing remote control bordersTerritorializing remote control borders Remote control involves the dispersal of border functions away from the margins of states territories to a multitude of locations inside societies. Such nonlinear territoriality of remote control borders has often been taken as non-territoriality. Their scattered territorial nature as well their spatial mobility create the illusion that they are disconnected from territory and detached from the rigorous hierarchy of political borders. Producing topological border spacesProducing topological border spaces At least three interconnected spatial dimensions attest to the nonlinear territoriality of remote-control borders. An outward dimension in the case of the presence of border control aspects from one country inside the territory of another. An inward dimension that emerges from domestic aspects of border management . An in-between dimension revealed by the incorporation of places with uncertain politico-legal status into border-making strategies, as well as by the constant normative re-defining of borders to keep bodies and places in an uncertain politico-legal status . Producing topological border spacesProducing topological border spaces These dimensions reveal that there is little resemblance between the rhizomatic geography of remote-control borders and the habitual grid-like one of linear state borders. Topological space: a space held together by “portal-like” connections rather than by territorial proximity. The nonlinear territoriality of remote-control borders brings places & people together by connecting them directly across space, folding them into each other, unlike borderlines that connects them via contiguous state territories. This opens up the entire globe to bordering processes, thus accelerating the proliferation of borders and multiplying the border-making actors.
  • 6/1/2013 4 The notThe not--soso--smartsmart ““““““““Smart BordersSmart Borders”””””””” Generally, these rearrangements of border spatiality signal a waning of democratic control over borders. Overreliance on technology promotes a view of border management as aOverreliance on technology promotes a view of border management as a technical problem that requires a technical fix, and assumes that worldtechnical problem that requires a technical fix, and assumes that world structural problems can be addressed by bordering them away with the help ofstructural problems can be addressed by bordering them away with the help of technology.technology. This is reflecting a strain of technological determinism that is blind to the factThis is reflecting a strain of technological determinism that is blind to the fact that technology is a twothat technology is a two--way street.way street. The notThe not--soso--smartsmart ““““““““Smart BordersSmart Borders”””””””” These beliefs have become so entrenched that even when the securityThese beliefs have become so entrenched that even when the security apparatus faces systemic failures the answer is to introduce more sophisticatedapparatus faces systemic failures the answer is to introduce more sophisticated technologies to expand surveillance rather than to question the overall utility oftechnologies to expand surveillance rather than to question the overall utility of the system.the system. This cannot address the core problem remote control bordering raises becauseThis cannot address the core problem remote control bordering raises because its nature is not technological. All that RFID technology can do at its best is toits nature is not technological. All that RFID technology can do at its best is to faithfully transmit bits of information from the chips to a reading system thatfaithfully transmit bits of information from the chips to a reading system that confirms the data from the chip are authentic.confirms the data from the chip are authentic. What this technology cannot do is tell if the person holding the passport is theWhat this technology cannot do is tell if the person holding the passport is the same as the owner of the data from the chip.same as the owner of the data from the chip. Bearing the hidden costsBearing the hidden costs The problematic ofThe problematic of remote controlremote control bordering goes well beyond technical concerns withbordering goes well beyond technical concerns with national security and personal privacy.national security and personal privacy. Without an understanding of whatWithout an understanding of what thesethese technologies of power can and cannot do,technologies of power can and cannot do, bordering practices can incorporate racial, class, ethnic and gender stereotypes andbordering practices can incorporate racial, class, ethnic and gender stereotypes and prejudices that will perpetuate existing inequalities.prejudices that will perpetuate existing inequalities. ParticularlyParticularly insightfulinsightful to grasp the nature of topological border spacesto grasp the nature of topological border spaces is Foucaultis Foucault’’ss biopoliticsbiopolitics that illustrates how in modern states the provision of security has become athat illustrates how in modern states the provision of security has become a form of governing populations, and how such governing is performed through theform of governing populations, and how such governing is performed through the management of populationsmanagement of populations’’ behaviors and movementsbehaviors and movements.. The preoccupation with acquiring comprehensive knowledge about every mobileThe preoccupation with acquiring comprehensive knowledge about every mobile bodybody and objectand object is a power strategy to control the fluid and networked territoriality ofis a power strategy to control the fluid and networked territoriality of movement.movement. Bearing the hidden costsBearing the hidden costs Risk management systems have shattered any inside/outside distinctions. They includeRisk management systems have shattered any inside/outside distinctions. They include citizens and non citizens as well as criminals and innocents alike. The goal of thesecitizens and non citizens as well as criminals and innocents alike. The goal of these technologies of power is not to differentiate between political subjects. The identity oftechnologies of power is not to differentiate between political subjects. The identity of the body really does not matter beyond its flesh, blood and bone existence.the body really does not matter beyond its flesh, blood and bone existence. FollowingFollowing AgambenAgamben, the body in this techno, the body in this techno--logic of power is the kind of body as alogic of power is the kind of body as a living organism, to be kept alive to be governed, and not the political body, with rightsliving organism, to be kept alive to be governed, and not the political body, with rights and duties, to be the subject of government.and duties, to be the subject of government. At the border, people find themselves in a position of perpetual suspects, as they haveAt the border, people find themselves in a position of perpetual suspects, as they have to prove their innocence every time they crossto prove their innocence every time they cross. The danger is that,. The danger is that, aass state bordersstate borders are increasingly everywhere inare increasingly everywhere in dailydaily life, the state of permanent suspicion experiencedlife, the state of permanent suspicion experienced at the border becomes a generalized condition of human existence that our bodiesat the border becomes a generalized condition of human existence that our bodies have to clear time after time and place after place as we go about our daily routines.have to clear time after time and place after place as we go about our daily routines. Images of Resistance