Borders, identification and surveillance

New regimes of border control

Authored by: Peter Adey

Routledge Handbook of Surveillance Studies

Print publication date:  March  2012
Online publication date:  April  2012

Print ISBN: 9780415588836
eBook ISBN: 9780203814949
Adobe ISBN: 9781136711077


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Borders are the key sites in the distinction of territories. As places of the sorting and effective differentiation of the (global) mobilities of people and things, borders are married to the practice and evolution of surveillance. This chapter is concerned with such processes of border-making or bordering which act to instate or reinforce existing regimes of regulation and governance over mobilities by way of a manifold array of surveillance techniques and technologies. Perhaps borders are the focus of such intense practices of monitoring, surveillance and sorting because they are “pinch points,” the filters in a hydraulic system of flows of movement that circulate and move between and within national state and supra-national state boundaries. Constituting the contact zones between populations, borders are the site of political exertion, of decisions over who gets in, who leaves and who doesn’t, moments of the sovereign decision over who or what is inside or outside the regime of their care. If critical decisions like this are to be made, then critically they require surveillance measures in order to provide the basis upon which decisions may be taken, although we will complicate this later.

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