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Politics of Disappearance: Scanners and (Unobserved) Bodies as Mediators of Security Practices


International Political Sociology

Published online on


In 2008, debates over the deployment of body scanners in EU airports gave rise to imbroglios of technologies, bodies, law, and policies. Eventually, these entanglements appeared to be undone and resolved by the concealment of bodies from the screens of the machines—which had, meanwhile, been renamed security scanners. Using the concept of setting, this article describes the processes of disappearance operating among a vivid multiplicity of actants and connections and identifies three main paradoxical features characterizing them. Based on this analysis, the article advances the notion of the politics of disappearance, where heterogeneous elements—both material and immaterial, visible as well as invisible—actively contribute to the making of a security practice and, potentially, to the opening of political landscapes.