Tunnel Risk and the Mediation of Border Security Spectacle

Authored by: Juan Llamas-Rodriguez

The Routledge Companion to Media and Risk

Print publication date:  March  2020
Online publication date:  February  2020

Print ISBN: 9781138638938
eBook ISBN: 9781315637501
Adobe ISBN:


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Underground border tunnels are foremost the sites for uncertainty. Because their potential for unseen and unsanctioned transnational flows threatens state sovereignty, state agencies strive to turn these underground structures from uncertainty into containable risk. To do so, agents must uncover their existence and enact their closure. Carrying out these two processes, and negotiating the ensuing contradictions, relies on mediation. This chapter considers one set of media productions that negotiates these dual processes and it situates these productions as part of the larger “border security spectacle.” Like much of border security, these media are performative, producing the risk they hope to contain. I argue that the mediation of tunnel security is self-referential and, because of this, uncertainty can transform into risk. Ultimately, self-referentiality also lays the ground for the undoing of border security spectacle.

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