Governing in the space of the "Seam": Airport security after the liquid bomb plot

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This paper provides a detailed study of the liquid bomb plot from 2006,
focusing on the ways in which the plot was constituted as “an event unlike
others” (Adey, Anderson, and Lobo Guerrero 2011, 340). Engaging
with a critical body of scholarship that examines how events are assembled
and governed as emergencies, disasters, or catastrophes, the paper
explores two sets of questions. First, the paper engages with the temporal
dimension of the event, asking how the liquid bomb plot was mediated
as a particularly risky event that required immediate action. Second, the
paper focuses on the spatial dimension of the event and asks how the
plot also threatened a seemingly interconnected system of global airline
movements and a mobile form of life. Drawing on Cowen’s (2010) analysis
of the “seam space,” I am particularly interested in developments of
reform and experimentation at the airport and in how newly emerging
technologies are targeted at keeping airports both secure and open.
Ultimately, by examining the liquid bomb plot “in the middle of events”
(Barry 2006, 244), the paper goes beyond an understanding of the security
event as something that happens abruptly and by surprise, and sheds
light on the ongoing work that is involved in constituting and governing
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)308–326
Number of pages19
JournalInternational Political Sociology
Issue number3
Early online date2017
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2017

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