This special issue aims to shed interdisciplinary light on the central role of socio-technical devices in the field of security. By focusing analytical attention on a variety of such devices – such as paper files, electronic records, maps and databases to name just a few –, the special issue offers new analytical perspectives on instrumentation as a central activity in the art of governing (in)security.
The special issue will question the selection, performativity and political effects of key 'socio-technical forms' to operationalize control and surveillance in various areas such as counterterrorism, criminal justice, policing, border management, transportation and financial security. It will analyse the performativity of security devices that are neither neutral nor purely technical. Although they do not act alone, they possess an autonomous action force which enacts (in)security in particular ways. On the one hand, each device is related to a particular history, it is based on negotiated standards, finalities and functionalities that convey specific representations of the social issue(s) at stake. The internal characteristics (technical, logical and cognitive) of devices constrain or enable the action of their users. On the other hand, security devices are not static to the extent that their force of action also depends on processes of translation, appropriation, enlisting or experimentation. The dynamic process of 'dialogue' between a socio-technical device and a specific context of action can produce unexpected and unintended practices. As a result, the special issue will also explore the spaces of formulation, appropriation and resistance to security instrumentation.
We invite contributions that highlight critical aspects such as the political dimensions of technical choices, the impact of security devices on their users and their targets, and the various forms of resistance to contest a device publicly, to simulate its implementation or to redefine its « raison d'être » in practice.
The special issue is interested in introducing a dialogue between academic disciplines, methodologies and theoretical premises to illuminate various facets of security instrumentation. In this sense, it welcomes papers that question security devices from a legal perspective, from a socio-historical perspective, from a sociology of controversies perspective, from actor-network theory, from a governmentality perspective and so on.
Abstracts (of 500 words) should be submitted to
firstname.lastname@example.org by 15 February 2014.
(Deadline for first full drafts of accepted abstracts will be 1 May 2014)