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Mobility and international relations

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Mobility is often at odds with the notion of sovereignty referring to the question of security and the ability of a sovereign State to accept flows. Mobility refers to a multitude of figures.

The mobility[edit | edit source]

Mobility is one of the key figures of (post-)modernity with the idea of fluidity. Before, people were imagined as not very mobile, but the idea of mobility is often linked to a certain conception of modernity. There are flows of people, migration, flows of goods, but also flows of capital. The constant flow of people, goods and capital and a debate that is attributed to a so-called modern, or even postmodern, period. These flows involve a number of things. These flows lead to a constant supply of flows with intentions, characteristics or to which characteristics or intentions will be assigned, raising the question of perception. It is important to be able to identify, manage and control these different flows.

If we take the management of the flow of goods, one of the essential points of threat management, for example the terrorist threat, is how to manage a multitude of goods passing through American ports. These flows are constructed and considered a danger because we cannot identify, manage and control the whole thing.

Mobility is also a phenomenon related to acceleration and speed, narrowing distances because there is the ability to go much further and much faster. It is above all the idea of acceleration that makes it increasingly difficult to understand and deal with what is happening in order to manage data and information. In airports, the idea is to look at people not as a person, but as a mass.

Mobility is often identified as a form of transgression that refers to freedom. The Roma is considered as a figure of transgression which is linked to the idea of a threat because it cannot be captured and above all it is identified with a number of other figures. Even if mobility may seem like an ability to be free being a form of empowerment, one may wonder if it is really a freedom.

Mobility has different meanings, mobility means different things, for different people, in different places and at different times. Mobility also refers to the idea of inter-connection and/or de-connection. Mobility does not necessarily want to be open to the other and to complexity. Mobility is also something that locks you in, because when you move from one hub to another, you miss the daily life of the place. Mobility induces infrastructures that force people to disconnect from a certain reality. We must also see mobility as something that restricts our ability to discover, see and think.

Mobility is also an antagonistic element to sovereignty, such as globalized tourism, diasporic phenomena that can create forms of loyalty that could potentially run counter to the loyalty of citizens and people living in the State, or transnational movements. The principle of mobility is conceived and perceived as a mark of modernity in order to produce a fairer, better and more dynamic society, but above all a society that produces more.

Mobility and sovereignty[edit | edit source]

Mobility is linked to a process of border erosion such as, for example, in the European Union or free trade agreements. But as Andreas shows in Introduction: The Wall After the Wall[9] published in 2000, the border can be selective. Often, the idea of mobility is more a rhetoric than a fact related to a number of specific interests. With the claims of the "undocumented" French, there is a rhetoric of mobility formulated as a threat, but they represent an integrated factor of production in the political economy. Mobility has been constructed as a threat, but the "undocumented" have constructed rhetoric as part of the well-being of French society.

Light pollution makes it possible to see the urban structure and the great mobility associated with it.

For Andreas, "the erasure of borders [debordering] is accompanied in many places by partial[rebordering] in the form of greater and improved[policing] control. While many borders have been demilitarized in the traditional field of national security, and economically liberalized to facilitate trade, they are also more criminalized now to deter those perceived as intruders. From a security perspective, we are moving from an idea of mobility as something that threatens the border and therefore national integrity to a more criminalizing dimension that produces a multiplicity of discourses that are more necessarily linked to national identity and the nation state, but with a multitude of facets.

There is a kind of asymmetry in the practice of mobility. They are dependent on sovereignty and the different configurations that sovereignty takes. Mobility highlights the practices that build the border and the production of a certain understanding of security - who are the enemies and potential dangers. Borders are most often dependent on sovereignty, on the different configurations it takes and with the erasure of borders, we see a diffusion and relocation of the border. Mobility is a kind of revealing of sovereignty practices that can lead to the deterritorialization of the border or to the perception of the border as a practice and not as a space.

The figures of mobility[edit | edit source]

There are many figures of mobility, including tourists, legal immigrants, illegal immigrants and economic immigrants. They are processes that build or conceive someone else as a potential hazard. Some categories of populations are constructed as a threat. These figures are also the emigrant, but also the businesswoman who can be classified between the economic class and the kinetic elites. Mobility is acceleration and speed. Safety practices are practices that will lead to a slowdown. The objective of emigrant camps is not to stop things, but to make progress more difficult and slower. This shows that there are different classes in mobility. Thinking about mobility is not only thinking in terms of safety, but also in terms of an assemblable. If we show that we have the means to use phenomena, technologies and bridges to move faster, we are no longer considered a threat, but as an economic agent to whom we must facilitate mobility. The asylum seeker, the refugee, the commuter or the citizen are figures that show to what extent there is a distinction and differentiation in mobility.

Tourism[edit | edit source]

Tourism is an international political economy that will allow the construction of an environment with places of welcome and activities that have nothing to do with the activity of the people on the spot. In other words, it is a meeting between different newspapers. Tourism is also an encounter between the "First-" and the "Quarter", "Third" worlds, but also an encounter between different imaginaries on security leading to a power relationship between these two worlds.

For Cynthia Enloe in Bananas, Beaches and Bases. Making Feminist Sense of International Politics[10] published in 1989, "Tourism is not only about escaping from work and greyness; tourism is a matter of power, an increasingly internationalized power. If tourism is not seriously discussed by traditional political commentators just as oil and weapons can be, this tells us more about the ideological construction of "seriousness" than about tourism policy".

Tourism is an essential place in the constitution of another one, generally built as an exotic, it is a place where we will produce the imagination about who we are. We're going to build places to go. Tourism is a fascinating place to study representations, but also to participate in a political economy because you go somewhere because you have expectations and you are looking for something. We are bringing a projection that we will try to satisfy because the tourist represents financial power. For example, Bali was built as a tourist island. Bali and Venice are a political economy.

Tourism and security (see Lisle 2013)[edit | edit source]

In Frontline Leisure: Securitizing Tourism in the War on Terror[11] published in 2013, Lisle shows that international borders are now everywhere and act in relation to individuals as bodies. The author shows that there is a diffusion of places where security is deployed: "familiar spaces (e.g. city streets, shopping malls, airports), activities (e.g. visiting a library, participating in a peaceful demonstration) and routines (e.g. taking public transport, making online reservations) are now important places of intervention where privileged bodies and life forms are more precisely, clearly and preventively secured against deviating bodies and life forms".

Travelling, being as a tourist refers to a whole series of dimensions where some people and bodies will be built as a potential threat while others are built as a resource, "the idea that everyone is a potential terrorist and the whole globe is a potential target, does not mean that security and governance practices apply with the same intensity and force to all places and subjects". It is interesting to look at intersubjectivities. It is not the individual as a specific identity that is a threat, but it can be the body that is a vector of things as many ideas as diseases. This shows a specific geopolitics of how actors build the world. For Lisle, the "world produces particular subjectivities (e.g. the terrorist, the immigration agent, the global citizen, etc.) "But also seeks to transform, regulate, and manage the behaviours, conduct and dispositions of these subjectivities". The class dimension is strong. A wealthy Indonesian tourist will find it easier to travel to Europe or Australia.

In Privileging the male gaze. Gendered tourism landscapes of Pritchard and Morgan published in 2000, is argued that"[...] tourist discourses (like their colonial and imperial precursors) favour the view of the'master subject': white, male, heterosexual and bourgeois. Thus, as gendered tourism marketing reveals, power differences between women and men favour the latter and gendered and radicalized landscapes affirm the power dynamics of international politics in which north and west are privileged over south and east. The women and landscapes of the latter are sensualized, exoticized, and represented as powerless and vulnerable.

These authors analyse how tourism and exoticism are sold. The key discourse is linked to a certain desire and a certain view that we build on the other. If we look at how countries such as Croatia or the Pacific Islands, Indonesia, Thailand or Latin America are built, to a certain extent we will sell a certain orientalism of what we want to see. For a country like Thailand, the security problem is linked to a health issue.

Mobility and security: the airport[edit | edit source]

The airport is the symbol of mobility, which is a dynamic and the place of the very essence of postmodern mobility. It is a place that represents an assembly of different logics. For Marc Salter in Introduction: Airport Assemblage publié en 2008,"airports are national spaces that connect international spaces, borders that are not territorial boundaries, and fixed places that embody mobility". Within the airport, different sovereignty systems are articulated. These are borders that are not territorial, being boundary constructions where we will build the good and bad subjects. It is a boundary in the constitution of one's self and the other in a relationship with security in order to determine who is a threat. The non-territorial border is a border of constitution from one relationship of self to another.

Airport security lines.jpg

When we think about security, there is a public logic, but in an airport, there is a mix of public and private actors. It is a fragmentation of the logic implemented between private and public expertise. There is a negotiation between the public and private sectors regarding what security is. There is a specific place which is the meeting between these types of actors. In terms of mobility and safety, the airport is a combination of different logics. Security is not necessarily the result of public production, but it is the negotiation between private and public actors, particularly in terms of acquiring the technology that will make it possible to identify. In Introduction: Airport Assemblage[12]

published in 2008 by Salter, Lyon's comments are reported for which airports are designed and built for "maximum trade and national security [...][and] although they are analytically separable into different fields -'citizen' and consumers' -, the latter are becoming more and more indistinct".

An airport is designed in the triptych of security, consumption and mobility. The purpose of an airport is to know how to get a passenger from one point to another in the most efficient way. There is a dialectic between security and consumption. Airports are built like temples of consumption. There are different logics and different moments that are articulated calling and constituting us to be different things, namely to be a citizen, a traveller, but also a consumer. Mobility involves different moments. An airport also represents a national political economy.

As Adey shows in Surveillance at the Airport: Surveilling Mobility/Mobilising Surveillance[13] published in 2004, the airport is the key place to distinguish, sort, manage and govern passengers in different ways. It is possible to make kinetic elites and other classes that create differences in subject modalities. Risk profiles" are used to identify a threat.

Summary[edit | edit source]

When we think in terms of mobility, there are productions of different subjectivities and modalities according to expectations representing negotiations between different sectors and logics whose security dimension is not necessarily the most powerful. There are different modalities that make us mobile. With mobility, several sectors are at stake. Security is not always the strongest dimension, but one of many. Often, safety is presented as the logic of a measure or as an equalizer. With mobility, safety is not necessarily the primary logic that comes to manage and manage us as human beings. Mobility is an indicator of an international political economy. Mobility implies power relations that produce certain subjectivities. Mobility is a way of studying relationships of domination.

Notes[edit | edit source]

Bibliography[edit | edit source]

  • Pritchard, A. & Morgan, N. J. (2000). Privileging the male gaze. Gendered tourism landscapes. Annals of Tourism Research 27(4): 884–905.!
  • Salter, Mark B. 2008. “Introduction: Airport Assemblage”, in Mark B. Salter (ed.) Politics at the airport. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Page de Stephan Davidshofer sur Academia.edu
  2. Page personnelle de Stephan Davidshofer sur le site du Geneva Centre for Security Policy
  3. Compte Twitter de Stephan Davidshofer
  4. Page de Xavier Guillaume sur Academia.edu
  5. Page personnelle de Xavier Guillaume sur le site de l'Université de Édimbourg
  6. Page personnelle de Xavier Guillaume sur le site de Science Po Paris PSIA
  7. Page de Xavier Guillaume sur Academia.edu
  8. Page personnelle de Xavier Guillaume sur le site de l'Université de Groningen
  9. Andreas, Peter, and Timothy Snyder. The Wall around the West: State Borders and Immigration Controls in North America and Europe. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield, 2000.
  10. Enloe, Cynthia H. Bananas, Beaches & Bases: Making Feminist Sense of International Politics. Berkeley: U of California, 1990.
  11. Lisle, D. "Frontline Leisure: Securitizing Tourism in the War on Terror." Security Dialogue 44.2 (2013): 127-46.
  12. Salter, Mark B. Politics at the Airport. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota, 2008
  13. Adey, Peter. "Surveillance at the Airport: Surveilling Mobility/mobilising Surveillance." Environment and Planning A 36.8 (2004): 1365-380.