In this panel we ask what publics are shaped and enacted by national and transnational surveillance, border and post-crisis management technologies and how can we study them by mobilizing the conceptual and methodological repertoire of STS.
In Europe, policy decisions dictated by executive powers after 9/11 have enabled new national and transnational surveillance, border and post-crisis management technologies to take shape in the name of controlled migration and preventing and reacting to crime and terror. What publics are shaped and enacted by these technologies and how can we study them by mobilizing the conceptual and methodological repertoire of STS? The modus operandi of pre-emptive security measures builds on decisions calling upon what Gunnarsdóttir and Rommetveit termed "phantom publics" instead of testing such decisions' grounding. How can publics nevertheless engage to hold the management of technologies accountable? An alternative take addresses categories deriving from the social sorting of technologies. Differentiating between trusted and distrusted travelers, low-risk and high-risk groups, documented and undocumented migrants have been regarded as dynamic and contested concepts. Dijstelbloem and Broeders have introduced the notion of "non-publics" to point to heterogeneous publics with ambiguous access to exercise their rights. How can shifted attention from pre-given classifications to ontological modifications of categories provide a perspective on the empowering and disempowering effects on publics? A third perspective focusses on "counter publics". Enacting for instance "subversive mobilities" or "temporary autonomous zones" by destabilizing or subverting routines and scripts of technologies allows actors to claim rights and space that have either not yet been formally granted or cannot be exercised. How can actions with the potential to circumvent borders and surveillance create invigorated possibilities for renegotiating their performative power?