chapter  2
37 Pages


Screening Practices at US Airport Security Checkpoints
ByLisa Parks

To explicate how airport screening functions as a practice of vertical mediation, this chapter analyzes labor conditions, technologies, and images at the checkpoint. It explores the working conditions of Transportation Security Administration (TSA) screeners, noting the physical demands of their work and the persistence of manual labor despite the technologization of the checkpoint. The TSA intensified and regimented checkpoint protocols resulting in the coordinated use of multiple screening technologies as well as physical searches. The chapter discusses the implementation of new screening technologies such as backscatter X-ray machines and millimeter wave body scanners at checkpoints and describe "close sensing" practices, which structure relations between looking and touching. It also discusses the object-oriented visual economy that takes shape at the checkpoint, and suggests that the X-ray sequence ultimately exposes the state's inability to regulate the flow of objects and matter in the age of globalization.