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Title:Uncommon pasts converging in the digital present: Constructions of gender and race in the era of airport security
Author(s):Perez, Erron M.
Advisor(s):Jefferson, Brian J
Contributor(s):Wilson, David; Sharif, Lila Adib
Department / Program:Geography & Geographic InfoSci
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):security, surveillance, gender, race, queer theory, black feminism, surveillance studies, airport, TSA
Abstract:Biometric information technology is defined as the implementation of algorithms in service of the digitized coding of the body, specifically its physical parts and physiological indicators and performances. In the United States, biometric technology uses algorithms to automate and power artificially intelligent machines via light sensors, infrared reflection, millimeter waves detection, and other means. Algorithms are an integral part of life in the United States, and their utilization in service of biometric technology for the purposes of population management is widespread. This is called algorithmic governance, where algorithms are used in decision making processes that govern the functioning of our society. While this technology is constantly being innovated upon, serious questions regarding algorithmic bias are gaining traction. This thesis is concerned with the potential harm that the collection and use of biometric information may have on people of different races, genders and other identity intersections, as well as our societal misunderstanding of the origins and applications of this type of technology. This paper analyzes the technical and sociopolitical risks of air travel, specifically for queer, non-white passengers at the hands of the United States government and the TSA (Transportation Security Administration) at security checkpoints in American airports. To do this, I use literary and historical analysis to address the dearth of literature concerning algorithmic bias within the field of surveillance studies (historically dominated by white male scholars), bring forth the theoretical contributions of black and queer scholars, and investigate the technology and administrative processes responsible for mediating American air travel experiences as an extension of historical legacies of violence and racial/gendered othering. In doing these things, I am advocating for a more holistic understanding of the way the collection and use of biometrics bolsters population management and domination as viable forms of governance—one that shape shift to adapt to changing sociopolitical prerogatives, always at the expense of a contrived racial or (un)gendered “other.”
Issue Date:2019-07-17
Rights Information:Copyright 2019 Erron Perez
Date Available in IDEALS:2019-11-26
Date Deposited:2019-08

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