chapter  2
16 Pages

Spatial imaginaries: Economic globalization and the war on terror

ByWENDY LARNER

Does the new focus on security and risk-based technologies associated with the so-called ‘‘war on terror’’ mark the end of economic globalization? Whereas in the 1990s, both political and scholarly attention focused on identifying and explaining transnational flows of capital, goods, services and people, more recently, attention has focused on efforts to categorise and contain the movement of particular commodities, forms of information and population groups deemed as ‘‘risky’’ by virtue of their ethnic, national, religious or political origins and/or affiliations. This reorientation has been particularly notable in the increased visibility of technologies aimed at population management, including those associated with biosocial profiling, screening, modelling and mapping explored in this book. This chapter argues that, rather than being a paradox, the increased security at borders, monitoring of the financial and everyday lives of citizens and restrictions on civil liberties associated with the war on terror are premised on the same political-economic imaginary as the fostering of open borders, free markets and active citizenship associated with economic globalization. There can be no doubt that the recent emphasis on identifying, monitoring

and profiling ‘‘risky populations’’ and the rapid introduction of new forms of surveillance and security is a notable phenomenon. This new emphasis is also explicitly linked to a shift in overall political rationalities characterized by a return to more exclusionary, state-centric approaches to global movements and relationships. Should we, however, support the claim that 9/11 and subsequent events have fundamentally challenged the conventional view of economic globalization as ‘‘an irresistible historical trend’’ (Gray 2001: 1). Have these new surveillance and security technologies indeed ‘‘brought back the walls’’ (Friedman 2002) and drastically curbed the flows of money, goods and people across national boundaries? Will the first decade of the twentyfirst century be seen as ‘‘the period in which the seemingly inevitable process of economic globalization faltered’’ (OECD Observer 2002)? More conceptually, is globalization indeed ‘‘over theorised in terms of social openness and under theorised in terms of social closure’’ (Shamir 2005)?