EASA2018: Staying, Moving, Settling

Security on the move: mobility and experimentation [Anthropology of security]
Location SO-D320
Date and Start Time 14 Aug, 2018 at 13:15
Sessions 1


  • Tessa Diphoorn (Utrecht University) email
  • Mark Maguire (Maynooth University) email
  • Nils Zurawski (Universität Hamburg) email

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Chair Erella Grassiani (University of Amsterdam)

Short abstract

This panel focuses on the 'security' around mobility and movement. It aims to uncover how the governance of security is shaped by divergent processes of both stasis and movement, but also how dimensions of security determine the mobility and movement of people, knowledge, and objects.

Long abstract

The anthropology of security is becoming a growing sub-discipline, with increasing focus on how security - in its broadest form - is produced and contested in everyday lives across localities. For this panel, we invite papers that specifically focus on the dialectic between security and (im)mobility. While most work on security in relation to mobility concerns how security measures restrict movement, for example at borders with the help of fences, regulations, and cameras, we want to take a wider approach by also including how movement itself is secured. Combined, we aim to further understand how the movement of people, objects and ideas, is secured, but also how ideas and practices of security moves around globally.

Topics for contributions can include, but are not restricted to:

1. The mobility of security ideas, technologies, expertise, people, and objects (such as CCTV cameras, consultants, and policing models).

2. Securing the movement of people, both on a larger scale (policy designed to limit migration) and on an individual scale (the work of bodyguards and bouncers).

3. The security of sites and objects that are defined by movement, such as planes/airports, trains/train stations, ships/ports, etc.

4. Security discourses constructed around the movement of people and objects.

5. Securing 'moving people', such as the security details of tourists in 'dangerous' places.

6. Materiality and infrastructure dimensions of security and how these enable or restrict mobility, i.e. how mobility is actively steered and spatialized.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.


Rethinking Airport Security: From Necessary Evil to Seamless Experience?

Author: Helene Ilkjaer (University of Copenhagen) email
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Short abstract

Airports aim to move beyond the imagery of uninviting architecture and stressful processes. But where does the airport industry's focus on experience leave security? This paper investigates questions of remote screening, operator interfaces, and the (im)mobility of security imaginaries.

Long abstract

Airports are trying to rebrand and reconceptualize themselves as experience sites, as zones of entertainment and culture with global access and local flavor. In doing so, airports are trying to become more than just places of transit and to move beyond the imagery of uninviting architecture and stressful processes. But where does the airport industry's focus on experience leave security? How will the future of airport security practices and technologies look like? How can security processing be incorporated as part of a (positive) airport experience? And what will this mean for the security screeners currently operating the lines? Based on fieldwork in two international airports and work with a Danish company that has developed a new security concept for airports, this paper examines a case of user-oriented security technology innovation. Taking its point of departure in the perspectives and work practices of the security screeners, I investigate questions of remote security screening, operator interfaces, and the (im)mobility of security imaginaries.

Poland in troubled times. The mobility of fear and (in)security.

Author: Kamila Grześkowiak (Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań) email
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Short abstract

The purpose of this paper is to analyze the transfer of fear, knowledge and "technology" of security in the context of risk and security (self)management in Poland.

Long abstract

After the elections in Poland won by the conservative party Law and Justice in 2015 "being safe" in cultural, social, economic and political dimensions had been raised to the level of the struggle against lurking evil - refugees and terrorists. Global fears and uncertainties have been nested to the local context. Fear for unknow Other (as a very useful political tool) opened the doors for the new agents - former special forces whose knowledge and skills became attractive both for the government and citizens. The government saw in them the potential to pass on the responsibility for ensuring security, the citizens discovered they can be the way to learn how to survive in troubled times.

This paper will focus on the relations between this three parties: government, citizens and former special forces. It will address the question of how the fear, knowledge and "technology" of security are transferred and re-defined. The ethnographic material is based on research in progress.

Securing Mined Paths for Moving People: Mine Risk Education on the Thai-Burma Border

Author: Ariane Bélanger-Vincent (California State University, Chico) email
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Short abstract

This paper explores the governance tools developed both locally and globally to secure moving people who face the threat of anti-personnel mines. It focuses on mine risk education on the Thai-Burma border and the elaboration of standards in the mine action organizations' European headquarters.

Long abstract

More and more people are moving back and forth across the Thai-Burma border. The Thai government encourages talks for repatriation of Burmese refugees, while the drastic decrease in international funding to the refugee camps forces many refugees to cross the border back into Burma. In the Southeast Asian highlands, borders have been more tangible on maps than on the ground. One of the main obstacles to mobility are anti-personnel mines. More than 70 years of conflict between minority groups and the central Burmese government have littered the area west of the border with mines. There are no landmine clearance programs in Burma. In this context, organizations focus on training people in transit through border areas on how to avoid and how to react to landmines. International organizations call this mine risk education (MRE). It is one of the five pillars of a complex landmine eradication governance network the United Nations calls "mine action."

This paper stems from a larger research project on mine action worldwide. It is based on fieldwork conducted in Thailand and in the European headquarters of leading MRE organizations. What does MRE consists of in the particular context of the Thai-Burma border? How has it been conceived and who contributed? What tools are used to measure its efficiency? This paper seeks to expose the dynamics of locally informed attempts to secure movement of people shaped by externally imposed tools of security governance standards that were elaborated and authorized in far away global policy-making centers.

Security and circulation in boundary spaces

Author: Limor Samimian-Darash (Hebrew University) email
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Short abstract

I analyze the treatment of Syrian casualties in Israel, and the governmental order established in new boundary spaces, in which the circulation of technology, language, people, and professions takes place. Security is activated through designated boundary spaces, rather than the controlling borders.

Long abstract

In this paper, I discuss the security of borders and boundaries by analyzing the case of medical treatment provided to Syrian casualties in Israel. Though Israel and Syria regard each other as enemy states, over the past few years Israel has provided medical assistance to Syrian casualties from the ongoing civil war in Syria in a humanitarian operation authorized by an official governmental decision. This treatment has been given in different sites: (1) military field hospitals (near the border); (2) military bases transformed into medical and humanitarian aid facilities; and (3) civilian hospitals in which both medical and security teams operate.

Drawing on the concepts of boundary work and the boundary object, I argue that these new security-humanitarian spaces function as boundary objects. They enable the work of both enemies and allies, medicine and the military, as well as the crossing of borders and the blurring of boundaries between them.

In these spaces, military and medical authorities together establish a new governmental order in which the circulation of technology (advanced medical treatment), language (Arabic and Hebrew), people (enemies and allies) and professions (military and medicine) takes place. Accordingly, the governance of security is produced not only by managing the (official territorial) border and controlling the movement of people in and out of the country, but also by enabling movement across the conceptual boundaries of people and professions, through designated boundary spaces

Black box and Italian drivers: the controversial relation between security, control, and privacy

Author: Irene Moretti (Leiden University) email
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Short abstract

Drawing on material collected during ongoing fieldwork in Italy, I will show how the recent implementation of the black box in the car insurance domain has given rise to a controversial debate around the nexus between security, control, and privacy in the context of Italian private mobility.

Long abstract

The approval of the Italian Competition Law in August 2017 sparked off a controversial debate around car liability insurance and the employment of the "black box", a technological device aimed at preventing car crashes and controlling insurance premiums.

More than 5 million insured people already decided to install a black box in their car. This enabled them to get a discount on their insurance policies while providing a great deal of data to the insurance industry. Examples of the data recorded are the location of the vehicle, driving speed, and crash rates. In other words, the driving styles of those "responsible" drivers who installed this device.

To foster the spread of the black box, insurance companies claim that this device benefits insured individuals by providing them with a set of services that will ensure a less risky mobility.

How did this debate translate into the life of Bologna's (Italy) inhabitants? How does a black box circulate within the technical and social network it creates? How is the black box perceived by professionals involved in the car and insurance industries? How do their opinions differ (or not) when they relate the black box to their own everyday life, as insured individuals?

Drawing on material collected during ongoing fieldwork in Bologna (Italy), I will show different perspectives on the implementation of the black box in the car insurance domain.

By doing so, I will highlight the much-debated nexus between security, control, and privacy in the context of Italian private mobility.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.