Hostname: page-component-77c89778f8-m8s7h Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2024-07-20T04:55:26.773Z Has data issue: false hasContentIssue false

Sticky security: the collages of tracking device advertising

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  21 October 2019

Anna Leander*
Affiliation:
Graduate Institute, International Relations, Geneva and Instituto de Relações Internacionais, PUC Rio de Janeiro
*
*Corresponding author. Email: anna.leander@graduateinstitute.ch

Abstract

In security studies and beyond, technological developments are associated with technocratic, rationalistic, transparent forms of security governed from a distance. In much of the advertising of tracking devices the associations made are very different not to say opposed to this. The advertising composes security anchored in sensemaking and resonance rather than calculus and reason, working from within and below rather than from a above at distance and depending on the negotiation of opaque co-presences rather than the establishment of precision and transparency. The consequence is that advertising not only extends but also deepens the grip of military/security matters: making them sticky. Moreover, the heterogeneity of the elements is such that what is composed is a shifting collage rather than a stable composition. This argument makes a threefold contribution to security studies: a theoretical reconceptualisation of what it means to compose security, an empirical intervention in the debates surrounding the politics of tracking devices and a methodological intervention in favour of collaborationist research strategies.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © British International Studies Association 2019 

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)

References

1 Alderman, Naomi, The Power (Milton Keynes: Penguin Books, 2016), p. 3Google Scholar.

2 Justine Jordan, ‘The Power by Naomi Alderman review – if girls ruled the world’, The Guardian, available at: {https://www.theguardian.com/books/2016/nov/02/the-power-naomi-alderman-review}.

3 The double security/military reference is there to recall that the blurred distinction ties the two spheres together into a single one. The tendency to systematically leave out politically disturbing military inserts a bias in the academic debates. Below I will sometimes leave out one and sometimes the other because of the connotations of the terms in the discussions I engage. However, I am systematically trying to unbias the usage.

4 See, for example, Neocleous, Mark, War Power, Police Power (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2014)CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Leander, Anna, ‘Understanding U.S. national intelligence: Analyzing practices to capture the chimera’, in Best, Jacqueline and Gheicu, Alexandra (eds), The Return of the Public in Global Governance (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014), pp. 197221CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

5 I am grateful to two constructive reviewers and the editors for enforcing the inclusion of this explicit reflection on the theoretical and methodological underpinnings of the argument.

6 To retake the formulation in Arvidsson, Adam, Brands: Meaning and Value in Media Culture (London and New York: Routledge, 2006)CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

7 Respectively, Law, John, After Method, Mess in Social Science Research (London: Routledge, 2004)Google Scholar; Strathern, Marilyn, Partial Connections (Altamira: Rowman, 2005)Google Scholar; Law, John and Mol, Annemarie, ‘Notes on materiality and sociality’, The Sociological Review, 43:2 (1995), pp. 274–94CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

8 In the vocabulary of Donna Jeanne Haraway, ‘Making Oddkin: Story Telling for Earthly Survival’, Lecture (Yale University, 2017).

9 Austin, Jonathan Luke, ‘Security compositions’, European Journal of International Security, 4:3 (2019), pp. 249–73Google Scholar.

10 Hibou, Béatrice, La bureaucratisation du monde à l'ère néolibérale (Paris: La Découverte, 2012)Google Scholar.

11 Best and Gheicu (eds), The Return of the Public in Global Governance.

12 The SCTX (Security and Counter Terror Expo) is a professional fair where institutions of all kinds display and inform about their activities. The Expo hosts information stands, talks, closed seminars, and distribution of the Counter Terror Awards. See {https://www.counterterrorexpo.com/} accessed 31 March 2018.

13 ASIS Europe is the European chapter of ASIS (American Society for Industrial Security) that has gone by its acronym since 2001) because as the director for European projects explained in an email, ASIS: ‘is a global community of security practitioners, each of whom has a role in the protection of assets – people, property, and/or information’. It is a global rather than just American) core professional association that engages in a wide range of activities including standard setting, certification, collaboration with policymakers, publishing, and the organisation of professional conventions. See {https://asiseurope.org/}.

14 Baird, Theodore, ‘Knowledge of practice: a multi-sited event ethnography of border security fairs in Europe and North America’, Security Dialogue, 48:3 (2017), p. 195CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed.

15 Thrift, Nigel, Non-Representational Theory: Space, Politics, Affect (London and New York: Routledge, 2008), p. 39Google Scholar, emphasis added.

16 Thrift, Nigel, ‘Lifeworld Inc. – and what to do about it’, Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, 29:1 (2011), pp. 526CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Arvidsson, Adam and Caliandro, Alessandro, ‘Brand public’, Journal of Consumer Research, 42:5 (2016), pp. 727–48CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

17 Thumala, Angélica et al. , ‘Tracking-devices: On the reception of a novel security good’, Criminology & Criminal Justice, 15:1 (2015), pp. 322CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Nafus, Dawn (ed.), Quantified: Biosensing Technologies in Everyday Life (Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2016), p. 280CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Sophie Day and Celia Lury, ‘Biosensing: Tracking persons’, in Nafus (ed.), Quantified, p. 280.

18 Butler, Judith, Bodies That Matter: On the Discursive Summits of ‘Sex' (New York: Routledge, 1993)Google Scholar.

19 Goldman, Robert and Papson, Stephen, Sign Wars: The Cluttered Landscape of Advertising (New York: The Guilford Press, 1996)Google Scholar.

20 Deleuze, Gilles, Expressionism in Philosophy: Spinoza (New York: Zone Books, 1990), p. 11Google Scholar.

21 Ibid., p. 237. He does insist on the significance of immanence of course. The citation continues ‘but existing bodies, being themselves composed of extensive parts, meet bit by bit. So parts of one of the bodies may be determined to take on a new relation imposed by some law while losing that relation through which they belonged to the body.’

22 Ruddick, Sue, ‘Power and the problem of composition’, Dialogues in Human Geography, 2:2 (2012), p. 210CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

23 DeLanda, Manuel, A New Philosophy of Society: Assemblage Theory and Social Complexity (London and New York: Continuum, 2006), p. 31Google Scholar.

24 Day, Sophie and Lury, Celia, ‘New technologies of the observer: #BringBack, visualization and disappearance’, Theory, Culture & Society, 34:7–8 (2017), p. 54CrossRefGoogle Scholar. They concur with Deleuze and DeLanda that assemblages as wholes are ‘non-totalizing’ and endowed with a specific ‘affective quality’.

25 Law and Mol, ‘Notes on materiality and sociality’, pp. 275, 288, and 290 respectively.

26 Cited by Barbara Berger, ‘Collage, Frottage, Grattage … Max Ernst's Artistic Techniques' (2008).

27 Law, After Method.

28 Haraway, Donna, Staying with the Trouble: Making Kin in the Chthulucene (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2016), p. 4CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

29 A curious practice is the title of Chapter Seven of Staying with the Trouble. The idea of a polite visit is borrowed from Despret, Vinciane, ‘Domesticating practices: the case of Arabian babblers’, in Routledge Handbook of Human-Animal Studies (London: Routledge, 2014), pp. 4156Google Scholar.

30 Haraway, Staying with the Trouble, p. 127.

31 Taussig, Michael, ‘The corn-wolf: Writing apotropaic texts’, Critical Inquiry, 37:1 (2010), pp. 2633CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

32 A pointer to Enloe, Cynthia, ‘Flick of the skirt: a feminist challenge to IR's coherent narrative’, International Political Sociology, 10:4 (2016), pp. 320–31CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

33 For Stengers, getting a ‘grasp’ is the aim of scientific work. Stengers, Isabelle, ‘A constructivist reading of process and reality’, Theory, Culture & Society, 25:4 (2008), pp. 91110CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

34 Haraway, Donna, Witness@Second_Millennium.FemaleMan©_Meets_OncomouseTM (New York: Routledge, 1997)Google Scholar.

35 ‘Gesture’, because ironically, making space for this section spelling out the import of collaborationist strategies, the collaboration has all but disappeared from the article recalling the inescapable trade-offs of academic journal publication.

36 This is Bourdieu's formulation. His ‘reflexive approach’ has the distinct advantage of making reflexivity foundational to any research. Unfortunately the way it is (mis)read contributes to perpetuate the fantasy that positionality can be neutralised. Bourdieu does not argue this but merely that it can (and should) be more satisfactorily dealt with. The real drawback of this ‘reflexive’ approach is practical. If taken seriously, it leaves research stranded in the impossibly ambitious project of objectifying the self and so paradoxically reinforcing the scholasticism of which Bourdieu is so relentlessly critical.

37 As Lynch argues: not only is the insertion of the author's person in the text rather useless – in what way does it deal with the conundrums of positionality? – it ultimately locates texts on the border of the boring and the unreadable. Lynch, Michael, ‘Against reflexivity as an academic virtue and source of privileged knowledge’, Theory, Culture & Society, 17:3 (2000), pp. 2654CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

38 It highlights themes at the core of Delueze and Guattari's approach to composition but marginal in Latour's as he is primarily interested in material objects.

39 Beard, Jack M., ‘Law and war in the virtual era’, The American Journal of International Law, 103:3 (2009), pp. 409–45CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

40 I am simplifying complex and interesting arguments. See Bigo, Didier, ‘The (in)securitization practices of the three universes of EU border control: Military/navy–border guards/police–database analysts’, Security Dialogue, 45:3 (2014), pp. 209–25CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Amoore, Louise, ‘Data derivatives: On the emergence of a security risk calculus for our times’, Theory, Culture & Society, 28:6 (2011), pp. 2443CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Amoore, Louise and Piotukh, Volha, ‘Life beyond big data: Governing with little analytics’, Economy and Society, 44:3 (2015), pp. 341–66CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

41 Anna Leander, fieldwork notes, Security and Counter Terror Expo (SCTX), 6–7 March 2018.

42 Didi-Huberman, Georges, Ce que nous voyons, ce qui nous regarde (Paris: Editions de Minuit, 1992)Google Scholar.

43 Ghamari-Tabrizi, Sharon, Worlds of Herman Kahn: The Intuitive Science of Thermonuclear War (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2005)CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

44 Leander, Anna, ‘Marketing security matters: Undermining de-securitization through acts of citizenship’, in Guillaume, Xavier and Huysmans, Jef (eds), Security and Citizenship: The Constitution of Political Being (London and New York: Routledge, 2013), pp. 97113Google Scholar.

45 Thrift, Non-Representational Theory.

46 Day and Lury, ‘Biosensing'.

47 Lupton, Deborah, ‘Digital companion species and eating data: Implications for theorising digital data – human assemblages’, Big Data & Society, 3:1 (2016), p. 2053951715619947CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

48 Åhäll, Linda, ‘The dance of militarisation: a feminist security studies take on “the political”’, Critical Studies on Security, 4:2 (2016), pp. 154–68CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

49 The sentences about Audax® have been reviewed and reformulated by the company as a condition for publication of the image of their advertising brochure.

50 Leander, fieldwork notes, SCTX.

51 Cohn, Carol, ‘Sex and death in the rational world of defense intellectuals’, Signs, 12:4 (1987), pp. 687718CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

52 Moskos, Charles C., ‘Toward a postmodern military: the United States as a paradigm’, in Moskos, C. C., Williams, J. A., and Segal, D. R. (eds), The Postmodern Military: Armed Forces After the Cold War (New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000), pp. 1431Google Scholar; Ware, Vron, Military Migrants: Fighting for YOUR Country (London: PalgraveMacmillan, 2012)CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

53 For the Israeli Defense Forces, see Creveld, Martin van, ‘The great illusion: Women in the military’, Millennium, 29:2 (2000), pp. 429–42CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Elshtain, Jean Bethke, ‘Shooting at the wrong target: a response to Van Creveld’, Millennium, 29:2 (2000), pp. 443–8CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

54 Herek, Gregory M. et al. , Out in Force: Sexual Orientation and the Military (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996)Google Scholar.

55 For the tensions in the Danish Armed Forces, see Peter Skærbæk and Stefan Thorbjørnsen, ‘The commodification of the Danish defence forces and the troubled identities of its officers’, Financial Accountability & Management (2007), pp. 243–68.

56 See also {https://6ecurity.com/}.

57 Respectively, see for example, Gregory, Derek, ‘From a view to a kill’, Theory, Culture & Society, 28:7–8 (2011), pp. 188215CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Duffield, Mark, ‘Governing the borderlands: Decoding the power of aid’, Disasters, 25:4 (2001), pp. 308–20CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed; Graham, Steve, The Politics of Verticality (London, Verso, 2016)Google Scholar.

58 Chamayou, Grégoire, A Theory of the Drone (New York: The New Press, 2015)Google Scholar.

59 Duffield, Mark, ‘The resilience of the ruins: Towards a critique of digital humanitarianism’, Resilience, 4:3 (2016), pp. 147–65CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

60 Respectively, Shapiro, Michael J., ‘The presence of war: “Here and elsewhere”’, International Political Sociology, 5:2 (2011), pp. 109–25CrossRefGoogle Scholar and Virilio, Paul, Open Sky (London: Verso, 1997), p. 20Google Scholar.

61 Leander, fieldwork notes, SCTX.

62 Anna Leander, fieldwork notes, ASIS 15th European Security Conference, London, 6–8 April 2016.

63 Leander, fieldwork notes, SCTX.

64 Alderman, The Power, p. 273.

65 For discussions on the import of precision and transparency, see respectively (and among many) for precision and for transparency Flyverbom, Mikkel et al. , ‘The transparency–power nexus: Observational and regularizing control’, Management Communication Quarterly, 29:3 (2015), pp. 385410CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Flyverbom, Mikkel, ‘Sunlight in cyberspace? On transparency as a form of ordering’, European Journal of Social Theory, 18:2 (2015), pp. 168–84CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

66 Zehfuss, Maja, ‘Targeting: Precision and the production of ethics’, European Journal of International Relations, 17:3 (2010), pp. 543–66CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Öberg, Jan, ‘War, transparency and control: the military architecture of operational warfare’, Cambridge Review of International Affairs, 29:3 (2016), pp. 1132–49CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

67 See Foucault, Michel, Technologies of the Self: A Seminar with Michel Foucault (Boston: University of Massachusetts Press, 1988)Google Scholar and Nancy Luxon, ‘Ethics and subjectivity: Practices of self-governance in the late lectures of Foucault’, Michel, Political Theory, 36:3 (2008), pp. 377402Google Scholar.

68 Leander, fieldwork notes, ASIS 15th European Security Conference.

69 Anna Leander, fieldwork notes, ASIS European Security Conference, Rotterdam, 19–20 April 2018.

70 Leander, fieldwork notes, SCTX.

71 Considering the longstanding place of insurance as a technology in security practices, this should come as no surprise. See, for example, Lobo-Guerrero, Luis, ‘Lloyd's and the moral economy of insuring against piracy: Towards a politicisation of marine war risk insurance’, Journal of Cultural Economy, 5:1 (2012), pp. 6783CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

72 Leander, fieldwork notes, SCTX.

73 For Foucault the care of the self is a way in which subjects can work on themselves in ways partly escaping the technologies of power. Foucault, Technologies of the Self, p. 84. For a discussion in connection to the tracking-devices, see Leander, Anna, ‘Le souci de soi: the duty of care and the humanitarian politics of life’, in Græger, Nina and Leira, Halvard (eds), The Duty of Care in International Relations: Protecting Citizens beyond the Border (London and New York: Routledge, 2019)Google Scholar.

74 This kind of recasting is central in advertising. Perhaps this is not surprising. As argued by Thumala et al., inserting tracking devices into routines is core to their success as commodities. See Thumala et al., ‘Tracking-devices’.

75 Leander, fieldwork notes, SCTX.

76 Leander, fieldwork notes, ASIS European Security Conference, Rotterdam.

77 Leander, fieldwork notes, SCTX.

78 Leander, fieldwork notes, SCTX.

79 The controversies that arise as for example that surrounding the potential dual use of the chips Benetton's use to track its clothes. For a discussion, see Lacy, Mark, ‘Designer security: Control society and MoMA's SAFE: Design takes on risk’, Security Dialogue, 39:2–3 (2008), pp. 333–57CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

80 Alderman, The Power, p. 294.

81 Öberg, ‘War, transparency and control’, p. 1145.

82 There are obvious racial and gendered implications of locating the issues here. The advertising discussed above is both gendered and racial in explicit and unambiguous terms (viz the Duty of Care presentation or the Chenega advertising) but also in far more subtle ways that I have not discussed here.

83 Thumala et al. write that ‘tracking is being de-securitized in the ways that Zoe, our developer, predicted’. (‘Tracking-devices’, p. 19).

84 Stengers, ‘A constructivist reading’, p. 97.

85 Stengers, Isabelle, ‘Another look: Relearning to laugh’, Hypatia, 15:4 (2000), p. 4Google Scholar.