Accepted Paper:

Detecting security politics  


Teresa Degenhardt (Queen's University)
Katy Hayward
Heather Johnson (Queen's University Belfast)
Debbie Lisle (Queen's University Belfast)
Mike Bourne (Queen's University Belfast)

Paper long abstract:

How political is the development of security technology? STS has opened the black box of wider science and technology processes but has had less to say about security. Security studies has engaged with Science and Technology largely as finished products, already developed devices and their possible use and misuse. This disciplinary divide tends to enact a clear cut between the socio-technical world of the laboratory and the socio-political world of security policy and practice. Our question, then, is how do these two worlds and their issues merge and emerge together?

Issues of risk; uncertainty; and success or failure permeate both worlds; but how do they cross the boundary between them? This paper draws on in depth multi-sited ethnographic research on the development of a handheld CBRNE (Chemical, Biological, Radiation, Nuclear and Explosives) detector for border guards. The EU funded Handhold project consists of 9 partner institutions (including academic research institutes, SMEs, and end-users) across 5 European countries. We follow this process by tracing issues of risk, uncertainty, and the nature of success and failure. While these types of issues (and their silencing) permeate both the laboratory and the world of security practice, we seek to identify how they emerge across these worlds, and how they shape those worlds. In doing so we address when, where and how issues of security politics appear in the lab? How is that politics distributed, settled, silenced, or postponed? How do these issues and non-issues shape the development processes of security technology?

Panel C4
Non-concerns about science and technology and within STS