Media narratives about transnational criminal surveillance systems: constructing the "European others"
(University of Minho)
Helena Machado (University of Minho)
Paper short abstract:
This paper investigates the media's narratives about the uses of DNA technologies in transnational criminal cases. It aims to explore how the media portrays transnational criminal surveillance systems along political and moral processes of constructing the "European others".
Paper long abstract:
At the heart of the European Union's security policies is the continued commitment to the expansion of technological infrastructures for the exchange of large-scale intelligence data for criminal investigations. In this context, the transnational exchange of DNA data for fighting cross-border crime and terrorism is gaining increasingly visibility in terms of the design and development of infrastructures for the surveillance of criminalized populations. This paper aims to contribute to the on-going debates in STS and critical surveillance studies by investigating the media's narratives about such infrastructures in transnational criminal cases. In particular, the paper explores how the media portrays transnational criminal surveillance systems along political and moral processes of constructing the "European others". The paper includes a historical analysis (1990-2017) of ninety news related to the coverage of transnational crimes referring to the use of technological systems of DNA data exchange. These news were published in newspapers of five European countries, namely Portugal, Spain, the United Kingdom, France, and Germany. The key argument is that the media narratives circulate sociotechnical imaginaries that relate on the one hand, to the legitimacy of DNA technologies; and, on the other hand, to criminalization of certain social and ethnic groups and particular nationalities. Therefore, the media narratives intersect imaginaries about infrastructures for surveillance of criminality, with geopolitics, imaginaries of genetics applied in crime fighting, and categories of suspicion.
The European Other as site of institutional experiment. Articulating friction in infrastructures for processing alterity