Accepted Paper:

Rethinking panopticism: biometric security, surveillance and the state  

Author:

Mark Maguire (Maynooth University)

Paper short abstract:

This paper explores examples of biometric security deployments in the USA and Europe – ‘smart’ borders, new technical assemblages, private security spaces, and new State-led configurations of citizenship and mobility – to argue that the visual is being significantly refocused and that the panoptic model employed by Foucault must be rethought.

Paper long abstract:

Foucault's treatment of Bentham's panopticon model conjures an image of the bowed inmate, both subject to and object of the ocular tyranny of a disciplinary society. How far can this visual model of social control go towards explaining new forms of security and control? This paper explores examples of biometric security deployments in the USA and Europe - 'smart' borders, new technical assemblages, private security spaces, and new State-led configurations of citizenship and mobility - to argue that the visual is being significantly refocused.

I will briefly trace the rise of biometrics in the 19th century, outline the range of contemporary deployments and examine how new assemblages are being used to securitize mobility. Central to the argument in the paper is the notion of the so-called 'data double', a figure that is tracked, secured and visualised through novel ways of seeing. Theoretically, I will also argue that rather than focus on the panoptic model one may reread Foucault for insights into how security and bio-power intersect around the challenge of 'seeing' population mobility.

Panel IW01
Mobility: frictions and flows