Association for Political and Legal Anthropology
Oral Presentation Session
GPS ankle monitors, electronic shackles or “grillete electronico” in Spanish, were initially introduced forty years ago in the US criminal justice system as an alternative to incarceration. Since then, the numbers of imprisoned and monitored persons have been ever escalating. In a similar way, the introduction of electronic monitoring as an alternative to the detention of immigrants in 2004 has not stopped the ever-expanding use of detention in the USA, and in a parallel development, the numbers of immigrants who are monitored have skyrocketed. Corporations that promote the use of monitoring were central in the expansion of the ‘criminal industrial complex’ and the ‘immigration industrial complex’, and have now found new markets in the USA and in Europe, following a logic of extractivism applied to human bodies.
First, the paper will discuss some of the economical and political logics that have contributed to spread this technology transnationally and to increasingly diverse categories of foreign-nationals. It will then analyze how confinement and border control are experienced when they take place through a device strapped unto the body that makes persons traceable at all times and opens the possibility for immediate arrest if they disrespect a curfew or if their immigration case amounts to a deportation. Finally, the contribution will discuss the ways in which this particular technology of confinement modifies the temporal and spatial experiences of the wearers and their possibilities of contestation.