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Durham University

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Publication details for Professor Louise Amoore

Amoore, L. (2006). Biometric borders: Governing mobilities in the war on terror. Political Geography 25(3): 336-351.

Author(s) from Durham


This article proposes the concept of the biometric border in order to signal a dual-faced phenomenon in the contemporary war on terror: the turn to scientific technologies and managerial expertise in the politics of border management; and the exercise of biopower such that the bodies of migrants and travellers themselves become sites of multiple encoded boundaries. Drawing on the US VISIT programme of border controls (United States Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology), the article proposes three central themes of the politics of the biometric border. First, the use of risk profiling as a means of governing mobility within the war on terror, segregating ‘legitimate’ mobilities such as leisure and business, from ‘illegitimate’ mobilities such as terrorism and illegal immigration. Second, the representation of biometrics and the body, such that identity is assumed to be anchored as a source of prediction and prevention. Finally, the techniques of authorization that allow the surveillance of mobility to be practiced by private security firms and homeland security citizens alike. Throughout the article, I argue that, though the biometric border is becoming an almost ubiquitous frontier in the war on terror, it also contains ambivalent, antagonistic and undecidable moments that make it contestable.


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