Association pour l’anthropologie du changement social et du développement
Association for the anthropology of social change and development

Performing (In)securities: Tacit knowledge and local participation in the securitisation of West African cross-border circulations

Auteur(s) : Kopf Charline ;

Whereas a rising number of scholars have recently focused on the use of biometrics in the migration management of the Global South, this article homes in on projects geared towards the involvement of ‘local and rural populations’ as a new strategy to govern borders in a geographical area deemed particularly prone to conflict. More specifically it looks at the case of Senegal, where international institutions with the support of national authorities design community policing techniques, adapt humanitarian border management concepts and infrastructures aimed at securing the circulation of people and goods between Senegal, Mauritania and Mali. Based on ethnographic fieldwork, as well as interviews and an internship at the UN Migration Agency in Dakar, this article explores how the border is not only reinforced as a material infrastructure exemplified by physical border posts but also performed as a corporeal assemblage that is ‘practiced’ and ‘imagined’ through the enactment of cross-border crisis simulation exercises, awareness-raising campaigns and the creation of local prevention committees in the West African borderlands. Drawing on STS and the anthropology of policies and international and humanitarian organisations (Billaud 2020; Billaud and Cowan 2020; Mathur 2020; Niezen and Sapignoli 2017; Redfield 2012, 2014), the article traces how technical and tacit security knowledge and strategies circulate in the preparation and implementation of such activities and how migration and security specialists articulate their expertise and ethical dispositions (see also Andersson 2019). Moving beyond legal texts and policy reports – although also an inherent part of the experts’ work – the article thus engages in the everyday operations of actors dealing with securitisation practices exploring how the latter test local and international security forces’ responses, as well as prepare the inhabitants living along the borders to various disaster scenarios in areas considered to be particularly ‘remote’ where states are seen as largely ‘absent’. Shedding light on the bureaucratisation of crisis preparedness (Borraz 2019, Collier 2008, Lakoff 2007), it also examines how state and non-state actors participating in those projects replicate or negotiate the discourses and performances of international organisations around the securitisation and management of borders.


Mot-clé : border management, crisis simulations, knowledge and expertise, and policies
Toutes les communications appartenant au même panel :

Voir le panel Réinventer les circulations en temps de ‘crises’ / Reinventing circulations at times of ‘crisis’ in West Africa

Voir tous les panels du colloque Apad conference 2020