Accepted Paper:

Mobility, security and the politics of uncertainty  
Lior Volinz (University of Amsterdam)

Paper short abstract:

Can uncertainty can be strategically employed and adjusted by security actors? Using the case of security operations at checkpoints around Jerusalem, this paper analyzes how security produces differential(un)certainty of movement, (re)produce disorder, unpredictability and illegible governance.

Paper long abstract:

Security is commonly understood as the imposition of order and law- Public and Private security actors are expected to overcome risks and maintain stable grounds for economic, political and social exchanges. By keeping the streets safe and orderly, property protected, contracts enforceable and the roads devoid of crime and obstacles, security actors provide the necessary basics of a market economy. But what if security is instead directed to instil uncertainty, (re)produce disorder, unpredictability, illegible governance and ambiguous legalities?

Using the case study of security operations at the Israeli checkpoints in Jerusalem's environs, I propose that uncertainty can be strategically employed and adjusted by means of irregular operation, managerial obfuscation, lack of accountability and contradictory or oft-altered directives and regulatory framework. Under the banner of security provision, the possibility, reliability and predictability of residents' entrance and exit from the city serves to shape different patterns of (im)mobility, economic dependency and social and political fragmentation. Following extensive fieldwork, this paper uses data from participant observation at different checkpoint separating Jerusalem from the Occupied West Bank- those used by Israeli-Jewish settlers and those by Palestinians. The mobility of the former is facilitated by streamlined procedures which simulate the contiguity of Israeli-Jewish space; the latter's (im)mobility is constantly uncertain and determined by ever changing regulations, interchangeable public and private security personnel and continuously enhanced physical and technological security infrastructure. I contend that if governing through uncertainty is a modality of security, a through re-evaluation of the manifestations of security is in order.

Panel P095
Spaces of security [Anthropology of Security] [PACSA]