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Between Infrastructural Experimentation and Collective Imagination


The Digital Transformation of the EU Border Regime: Read the new article by Paul Trauttmannsdorff & Ulrike Felt!

A central and formative ingredient in the governance of migration in the European Union (EU) is the continuous construction of a large-scale digital infrastructure to ensure border security. Although border and critical security studies have increasingly focused on the multiple aspects of techno-materiality and infrastructural devices of border control, less has been said about how such an infrastructure encodes and transmits collective future visions of border (in)security. Therefore, this paper analyzes the making of a sociotechnical imaginary of digital transformation of the EU border regime, specifically focusing on the role of eu-LISA, the European agency for the development and management of large-scale IT systems.
Drawing on ethnographic observations and interview material, we analyze the ways in which this agency emerges as a site for assembling and rehearsing this sociotechnical imaginary, gradually transforming borders into sites of experimentation in the EU Schengen laboratory. As our case illustrates, studying the visionary dimensions of digital infrastructuring helps us to understand how imagination becomes collectivized and materialized, opens up or closes down sociotechnical realizations, and thus tacitly governs the project of digitally infrastructuring the EU border regime.

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