CFP: 2012 AAA – “Border Patrol: Technologies of Moral Bureaucracy and Immobility”

Science, Technology and Medicine Interest Group

Society for Medical Anthropology

AAA 2012 Call for Papers — Seeking additional panelists

Panel Organizers: Betsey Brada, Tazin Karim, Peter Locke, Aaron Seaman


Border Patrol: Technologies of Moral Bureaucracy and Immobility

We seek one or two additional scholars to participate in a panel focused around ethnographic and theoretical inquiries into the construction of borders and moral bureaucracy in science, medicine, and research. Examples of how borders are transgressed or become permeable have long been of great interest in anthropology and in science studies. For many people, goods, and knowledges, however, borders are not porous: they are concrete instantiations of immobility—points of stoppage rather than passage. Both the marking of certain forms of circulation as transgressive and the subsequent construction and maintenance of boundaries to restrict and control them are morally laden projects. Yet, the technologies, forms of expertise, and institutions of governance that effect these boundaries as impenetrable act as neutral intermediaries, appropriating questions and judgments of morality. We seek papers that turn a lens on borders themselves: the ways in which they work to regulate and inhibit the mobility of certain technologies, ideas, and categories of person; and the technologies of moral bureaucracy that mediate interactions of border enforcement.

Our panelists interrogate the ways that certain forms of data legitimate the borders of a diagnosis, indicating who gets treatment; what kind of authority can restrict the flow of individual’s data by identifying them as part of a national collective; and which biological markers keep you stuck or allow you to cross. In doing so, they ask: What social and institutional dynamics are at play when transgression or free circulation is not the outcome? How are the moral economies of borders bureaucratized in specific objects, technologies, and forms of knowledge? How do decisions around circulation and stoppage come to be seen as inevitable and neutral? In what ways are these modes of regulation across borders made such that the validity of decisions about circulation lies not in the hands of individuals but is mediated by these technologies?

Please submit 250-word abstracts to Peter Locke at no later than April 1, 2012.

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