Border control and blurred responsibilities at the airport

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  • Perle Møhl
Border Security at Copenhagen Airport is maintained on a daily basis through the activities, intents and perspectives of a multiple and unstable assemblage of public and private actors and technologies. Two opposed types of motivations play the leading roles in this work: on the one hand, securing the national borders against what are defined as intruders and threats and, on the other, a general pursuit of economic advantage and profit. Security plays a part in both, in itself becoming a negotiable commodity.
Based on fieldwork among border police in Copenhagen Airport, the chapter examines two instances of control where the actual processes of decision-making and allocation of responsibilities and authority are blurred. The examples concern, for one, the negotiations for setting an acceptable threshold for facial recognition in an automated border control technology, and, secondly, the discretionary work of individual border guards in the profiling of passengers and the detection of potential threats.
As the chapter shows, the airport is a privileged site for analysing the blurring of security responsibilities, decision-making and ongoing negotiations between different parties, because border security is produced by both public and private actors, and because the economic and the security stakes in this place are so obviously entwined and guide most interactions.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSecurity Blurs : The Politics of Plural Security Provision
EditorsTessa Diphoorn, Erella Grassiani
Number of pages18
Place of PublicationLondon
Publication date2019
ISBN (Print)978-0-8153-5676-9
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-351-12738-7
Publication statusPublished - 2019
SeriesRoutledge Studies in Anthropology

    Research areas

  • Faculty of Social Sciences - security studies, airport studies, technology, border control, policing, political economy, threshold negotiations, discretion, random checks

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ID: 201236809