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The Algorithmics and Biopolitics of Race in Emerging Smart Border Practices and Technologies

Tamara Vukov

Keywords: algorithmic governmentality; assemblage; biopolitics; border technologies; race; smart borders

Abstract

Taking the Canada–U.S. border as a starting point to refl ect on emergent smart border practices, this essay analyzes the diff erential yet central place that race continues to hold in the regulation of mobilities through the technopolitical mechanism of the border. Against claims that smart borders off er a more scientifi c and “postracial” mode of border control, the essay off ers a situated conceptual refl ection on how race is currently being (re)shaped by the complex intersection of biopolitical and algorithmic forms of governmentality as they converge in border technologies. Th e essay proposes to think through four diff erent sets of smart border technologies that enact and track race as a biopolitical assemblage in particular ways, analyzing the associated perceptual codes each puts into play (biometric, movement sensing, drone, and databased). It closes by refl ecting on how these algorithmic technologies infl ect the biopolitical targeting of race and mobility in ways that serve to insulate smart border practices from democratic accoun tability.

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