At the airport we line up, remove our shoes, empty our pockets, and hold still for three seconds in the body scanner. Deemed safe, we put ourselves back together and are free to buy the beverage we were prohibited from taking through security. In The Transparent Traveler Rachel Hall explains how the familiar routines of airport security choreograph passenger behavior to create submissive and docile travelers. The cultural performance of contemporary security practices mobilizes what Hall calls the "aesthetics of transparency." To appear transparent, a passenger must perform innocence and display a willingness to open their body to routine inspection and analysis. Those who cannot-whether because of race, immigration and citizenship status, disability, age, or religion-are deemed opaque, presumed to be a threat, and subject to search and detention. Analyzing everything from airport architecture, photography, and computer-generated imagery to full-body scanners and TSA behavior detection techniques, Hall theorizes the transparent traveler as the embodiment of a cultural ideal of submission to surveillance.
Publisher: Duke University Press
Number of pages: 240
Weight: 476 g
Dimensions: 229 x 152 x 18 mm
"Rachel Hall describes a state of emergency that has probably been normal in the rest of the world since the inception of mass air travel, and to non-Americans, it has a whiff of naivety. Nevertheless, this is an excellent book. As Hall observes, the technological and cultural advances in the area of security have been so great and so rapid in recent years that they constitute a major part of our contemporary lives. Her argument centres on notions of transparency, from its aesthetics in a broadly architectural sense, to transparency in terms of biopolitics, to transparency as performance. She writes persuasively of security as theatre, or as she puts it pithily, "a cultural performance of risk", demanded both by those in authority and their institutions, and their subjects. It couldn't be any other way: without complicity on the part of the consumer, security simply couldn't be enacted in the way that it is." -- Richard J. Williams * Times Higher Education *
"Hall's sharp eye for visuality, combined with this book's innovative methodology-which cuts across and between different sites, historical moments, and cultural practices in order to tell a compelling story about securitization, ideology, and risk in the contemporary US-makes the book an important read for cultural studies and communication studies scholars at large." -- Bryanne Young * Text and Performance Quarterly *
"What this book does excellently is build a picture of the disciplinary power of airport security through a myriad of media texts: this is a book that will appeal to a wide range of scholars, from those in critical surveillance studies to theorists of visual culture, from those interested in the continued relevance of Michel Foucault's concept of biopolitics to critics of contemporary formations of the neoliberal society, and from scholars in mobility studies to those specifically interested in the space of the airport." -- Justine Shih Pearson * TDR: The Drama Review *