What practices of (in)securitization involve the notions of border and border control in the European Union? How do these practices operate? How are they assembled? In the resulting assemblage, is the notion of borders – understood as state borders – still relevant for the control of individuals and populations moving across the frontiers of the EU? Drawing on empirical observations and with a specific focus on how border control is translated into different social universes, this article seeks to show that practices of control are routinely embedded in a practical sense that informs what controlling borders does and means. This practical sense is itself informed by different professional habitus and work routines involving deterrence and the use of force, interrogation and detention, surveillance of populations on the move and the profiling of (un)trusted travellers. Its strength varies in relation to its shared dimension by most of the operators, and is adjusted to the materiality of borders as well as to the local contexts in which it is deployed. It activates, or does not activate, the maximal use of various control technologies (satellites, pre-registration and interoperable exchange of data between the state and private bureaucracies, biometrics identifiers, body-scanners). For understanding practices of (in)securitization, actual work routines and the specific professional ‘dispositions’ are therefore more important than any discourses actors may use to justify their activities.
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