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Durham University

Department of Geography

Staff Profile

Professor Louise Amoore, BA (Hons), MA, PhD

Professor in the Department of Geography
Telephone: +44 (0) 191 33 41969
Fax: +44 (0) 191 33 41801
Room number: 402

Contact Professor Louise Amoore (email at


Louise Amoore researches and teaches in the areas of global geopolitics and security. She has particular interests in how contemporary forms of data, analytics and risk management are changing the techniques of border control and security. Louise has been awarded a Leverhulme Major Research Fellowship (2016-18) for work on the Ethics of Algorithm

Ethics of Algorithm

Living in a world that is increasingly saturated with algorithmic processes has profound implications for ethics. The scholarly and public accounts of the ethical dimensions of algorithm have overwhelmingly placed the human being as the locus of ethical deliberation. Thus, philosophers and scientists search for ethical frameworks or guidelines for the human designers of software; legal scholars remind us that the protection of humans from “automated decisions made about them” by algorithms is enshrined in data protection law; and social scientists urge that the “black box” of algorithmic decisions be opened to critical scrutiny. Yet, the idea of an ethics that opens the algorithm to human scrutiny has important limits, not only because many algorithms are proprietary and secret, but more significantly because they can operate at a speeds and scales beyond the threshold of human perceptibility.

Louise’s Leverhulme Major Research Fellowship provides an account of the potential for an ethics of algorithm. In a tradition of ethics as the situated giving of an account of one’s actions at the limits of intelligibility – “I cannot give an account of myself without accounting for the conditions under which I emerge” (Judith Butler 2005) – the research excavates how the algorithm might give an account of itself and its emergence. The research develops six conceptual themes – to form the chapters of a book – opening up dimensions of the relation of algorithm to ethics: undecidability; doubt; cognition; perception; association; automation.

Louise's most recent book, The Politics of Possibility: Risk and Security Beyond Probability (2013) is published with Duke University Press. The book maps out the politics of possibility that has come to characterize contemporary life, tracing its genesis into the diverse worlds of risk consulting, computer science, commercial logistics, and data mining and visualization. The book depicts the coalescence of two distinctive orientations to the uncertain future: one, derived from the worlds of economy and commerce, that conceives of harnessing the economic possibilities and opportunities of risk; and the other, characteristic of sovereign security, that seeks to act upon low probability high impacty events via the arraying of multiple paths of possibility. In the coming together of these worlds, decisions are made on the basis of possible associations between people, objects, places and events.

Louise's previous projects include her RCUK Global Uncertainties leadership fellowship (2012-2015). Her project 'Securing Against Future Events' (SaFE): Preemption, Protocols and Publics' examines how inferred futures become the basis for new forms of security risk calculus.

She has also conducted ESRC projects on the techniques and technologies of biometric and data-driven borders: 'Contested Borders' (2007-2009), a project within the ESRC's non-governmental public action programme. The work has produced new insights into how contemporary security practices enter and reconfigure public space.

'Data Wars: New Spaces of Governing in the European War on Terror' (2008-12) was a three year ESRC bilateral project in collaboration with Marieke de Goede at the University of Amsterdam. Researchers at Durham and Amsterdam investigated how data elements from the mobilities of people and money become redeployed for preemptive security.

Research Groups

Research Projects

Selected Publications

Journal Article

Authored book

Edited book

Chapter in book

  • Amoore, L. Governing By Identity. In: Lyon, D. & Bennett, C. Playing the identity card: surveillance, security and ifentifcation in global perspective. New York.: Routledge; Published:42-56.
  • Amoore, L. Vigilant Visualities. In: MacDonald, F., Hughes, R. & Dodds, K. Observant States: Geopolitics and Visual Culture. London.: IB Taurus; Published:247-266.
  • Amoore, L. There is no Great Refusal: the ambivalent politics of dissent. In: De Goede, M. International Political Economy and Poststructural Politics. Basingstoke.: Macmillan; 2007.
  • Amoore, L. Making the Modern Multinational. In: May, C. Global Corporate Power. Boulder, Colorado.: Lynne Rienner; 2006:32-54.
  • Amoore, L. There is no great refusal: the ambivalent politics of resistance. In: DeGoede, M. International Policial Economy and Poststructural Politics. Basingstoke.: Palgrave; 2006.
  • Amoore, L. & Langley, P. Global civil society and global governmentality. In: Germain, R. & Kerry, M. The Idea of Global Civil Society. Routledge; 2005:137-155.
  • Amoore, L. Invisible Subjects: Work and Workers in the Global Political Economy. In: Davies, M. & Ryner, M. The Political Economy of Unprotected Work. Basingstoke: Palgrave; 2005.
  • Amoore, L. Making the Modern Multinational. In: May, C. Global Corporate Power. Boulder: Lynne Rienner; 2005.
  • Amoore, L. & Langley, P. Process, Project and Practice: The Politics of Globalization. In: Abbott, J. & Worth, O. Critical Perspectives on International Political Economy. Basingstoke: Palgrave; 2002.
  • Amoore, L. Work Production and Social Relations: Repositioning the firm in the international political economy. In: Harrod, J. & O'Brien, R. Global Unions? Theory and Strategies of Organized Labour in the Global Political Economy. London.: Routledge; 2002:29-48.

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