Accepted Paper:

The making of (digital) space for European border security  


Paul Trauttmansdorff (University of Vienna)

Paper short abstract:

Borders have increasingly been mediated by digital technologies. Examining the massive roll-out of digital borders, relying on sensor systems that collecting data of people on the move can bring to the fore the making of digital space and the digital making of space for European border security.

Paper long abstract:

Since the Schengen agreement, European borders have increasingly been mediated by technologies to regulate cross-border mobility. The massive roll-out of "digital borders" (Broeders 2007), relying on sensor systems collecting data of people on the move, is illustrated by the continuous build-up of large-scale databases, such as the Schengen Information System, Visa Information System, Eurodac, and smart border projects. While mostly focusing on the effects of securitization, academic literature has hardly reflected on the emergence of (transnational) digital space, as both product of and instrument for sociotechnical border governance through means of sensing technologies. This paper addresses two main questions: How have these security systems and actors been involved in the making of a (European) digital space for border politics? And, how has space thereby been imagined in the complex interplay of mobility, security and techno-politics? The paper therefore explores the spatial practices (Harvey 1989/2008) as well as the incorporated imaginaries of space (Jasanoff 2015), performed and enacted by security actors and technologies. Mapping (Clarke 2005) actors/practices involved in the sociotechnical border-projects and qualitatively analyzing policy documents, information and statistical material (Mayring 2000), particularly provided by the European agency for the management of the large-scale IT systems (Eu-LISA), can trace the making of digital space for European border security. I will argue that space-making is an indispensible aspect for any analysis of sensor technologies and, thus, for a better understanding of the co-production of transnational security infrastructures, which I illustrate with the example of the European border regime.

Panel A19
Sensing security. Sensors and the making of transnational security infrastructures