Border control, technology and the enskillment of vision
Perle Møhl (University of Copenhagen)
Paper short abstract:
Based on fieldwork among border police in Europe, the paper describes the role of vision, biometric technologies and sensory work in border control, the human·machine interactions at play and the processes of sensory enskillment and selective vision that can see through, beyond and overlook.
Paper long abstract:
Based on fieldwork among border police in two border sites in Europe, the paper describes the role of screens, cameras, vision and visual biometric technologies in border and security control, the human·machine interactions at play, and the processes of enskillment and routinization, involving a highly selective vision that can see through, beyond and overlook. At the Schengen border at Copenhagen Airport, a border guard surveys travellers moving into the Automated Border Control zone and the screens that display the ongoing algorithmic work of facial recognition and data base consultation. The guard intervenes when the machine can't see or foresee, deploying her own 3D-vision, six senses and predictive imagination. In the mountains between Morocco and the Spanish enclave of Ceuta, border guards and sub-Saharan migrants survey each other, assessing each other's technological savvy and routines to find the right moment to act. All these actors develop and deploy visual and sensory skills and technologies, transforming the border zone into a crossfire of frictional gazes and lines of sight, direct and mediated vision, haptic encounters and specialised sensory vigilance.
Artefacts of mobility and immobility in the border world