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Hardwiring the frontier? The politics of security technology in Europe’s ‘fight against illegal migration’

Andersson, Ruben (2016) Hardwiring the frontier? The politics of security technology in Europe’s ‘fight against illegal migration’. Security Dialogue, 47 (1). pp. 22-39. ISSN 0967-0106

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Identification Number: 10.1177/0967010615606044


Migration controls at the external EU borders have become a large field of political and financial investment in recent years – indeed, an “industry” of sorts – yet conflicts between states and border agencies still mar attempts at cooperation. This article takes a close look at one way in which officials try to overcome such conflicts: through technology. In West Africa, the secure “Seahorse” network hardwires border cooperation into a satellite system connecting African and European forces. In Spain’s North African enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla, advanced border fencing has joined up actors around a supposedly impenetrable divide. And on EU level, the “European external border surveillance system” or Eurosur papers over power struggles between agencies and states through “decentralized” information-sharing – even as the system’s physical features (nodes, coordination centres, interfaces) deepen competition between them. The article shows how such technologies, rather than “halting migration”, have above all acted as catalysts for new social relations among disparate sectors, creating areas for collaboration and competition, compliance and conflict. With these dynamics in mind, the conclusion sketches an “ecological” perspective on the materialities of border control – infrastructure, interfaces, vehicles – while calling for more research on their contradictory and often counterproductive consequences.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2015 The Authors
Divisions: Conflict and Civil Society
Subjects: J Political Science > JV Colonies and colonization. Emigration and immigration. International migration
J Political Science > JZ International relations
T Technology > T Technology (General)
Date Deposited: 21 Sep 2015 13:48
Last Modified: 03 Jul 2024 18:54
Projects: ES/G01793X//1, 269441, 2014-15, ES/G01793X//1
Funders: AXA Research Fund, Economic and Social Research Council, European Research Council, AXA Research Fund Postdoctoral Research Fellowship, UK Economic and Social Research Council

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