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Borders Without Fences and Confinement Without Walls: New Approaches to Migration Control Through Electronic Bracelets

Go Explore Grant from the Independent Research Fund Denmark to IMC affiliated Researcher Carolina Sanchez Boe

2018.03.05 | Anne-Mette Pedersen

40 years ago, a Spiderman comic gave US judge Jack Love an idea that would revolutionize surveillance, confinement, and bordering practises. Reading how villains successfully tracked Spiderman after attaching a transmitterto his wrist, Judge Love saw the potential of using a similar technology on criminals as an alternative to prison (Lyon 1994:42). After having been adopted by criminal justice systems all over the world, the use of electronic bracelets for migration control was voted into law in the USA in 2002, in France in 2011, and in Denmark in 2016 (UIM 2016). Migrants can now be monitored at a distance while being able to hold a job and live with their family. At the same time, they are traceable at all times and can quickly be arrested if they disrespect a curfew or if their asylum or immigration case amounts to a deportation. By using a research design that combines person-centered long-term anthropological fieldwork with audiovisual and collaborative research practices, the project seeks to harvest indepth knowledge about the experiences of confinement and border control, while mapping and analyzing the political and economical processes that contribute to spread the technology to the homes and wrists of increasing numbers of migrants in the USA, France and Denmark.

Research questions:

  • Which actors and processes lead to the spread and application of this new technology of confinement?
  • How are these new technologies of confinement experienced and embodied, when border control is ensured in the most intimate spheres, in homes, and on bodies?

Grant owner: Postdoc Carolina Sanchez Boe

The 2 year research project will be based on Université Sorbonne Nouvelle, with association to IMC, Aarhus University, and a research stay at John Jay Center for Criminal Justice, City University of New York. 

Announcement by Independent Research Fund Denmark