Animating opacity: race, borders, and biometric surveillance

Fubara-Manuel, Irene (2019) Animating opacity: race, borders, and biometric surveillance. Doctoral thesis (PhD), University of Sussex.

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This project intervenes on the increased policing of borders using digital technologies. It is an autoethnographic practice-led research project that investigates the application of biometric surveillance technologies in identity capture and verification of black migrants. Consequently, it focuses on the racial implications of these new forms of surveillance and the resistances necessary for black migrant survival. This study emphasizes the importance of resistance as black migrants’ movements are increasingly dictated by biometric technologies that transform everyday spaces into the border. Crucial to this study is the connection of the histories of the colonial biometric dissection of the black body to the contemporary inscription of race on the body despite the claim that biometrics are race-neutral. Placed within the connection of modern biometric technologies with their colonial predecessors are black migrants who are disproportionately scrutinized at the border while being subjected to racial bias in moments of biometric data capture, identification, and verification. Animating Opacity, therefore, analyzes these processes of biometric surveillance focusing on autoethnographic accounts and public case studies of the policing of black migrants. The analysis respectively presented within the chapters are: the histories of these biometric technologies that state their links to the colonial dissection, the inscription of race in the act of biometricization, the racial syntax of biometric capture that tags black migrants as other, the affective economy of fear resulting in the boundary maintenance of the black body, and the new spatializing practices engendered by the creation of the biometric border. Countering these experiences of surveillance at biometric borders are moments of resistance placed within media art practices. These art practices include installation art, moving images, and video games which assert the right to opacity and geographic agency of black migrants. Therefore, this study centralizes the resistances of black migrants against biometric surveillance. Resistance is framed as ‘the right to opacity,’— the counterpoint to the colonial imperative of transparency—as conceptualized by Édouard Glissant. Through the framing of resistance, Animating Opacity plots the escape from biometric capture, the new forms of languages that exploit the failures of biometric surveillance, and the virtual spaces outside of the surveillant gaze that animates the opacity of black migrant life.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: School of Media, Film and Music > Media and Film
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology > HM0621 Culture > HM0636 Human body
T Technology > TK Electrical engineering. Electronics Nuclear engineering > TK7800 Electronics > TK7880 Applications of electronics > TK7882.B56 Biometric identification
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 24 Oct 2019 10:30
Last Modified: 26 Nov 2021 10:55

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