Université de Montréal


Having recently completed a two year appointment as Visiting Research Professor and postdoctoral scholar at the Center for Mobilities Research and Policy at Drexel University, Tamara Vukov is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication at the Université de Montréal. She has published in such venues as the International Journal of Cultural Studies, Social Semiotics, the Canadian Journal of Communication, and Topia. Engaged in social justice activism and alternative media for over fifteen years, she also produces independent media and media arts (film, video, digital media), and is a founding member of the Volatile Works media arts collective.

Drone Mobilities, Drone Sensing: The Politics of UAV Technologies in Border Surveillance

This presentation will explore the current militarization of governing border mobilities through analysis of a particular technology that is currently being integrated into practices of border surveillance: the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) or drone. While the Obama administration has overseen an unprecedented expansion in the use of UAVs in military arenas, this period has also seen the introduction and expansion of a pilot program by US Customs and Border patrol deploying Predator B drones along the Canada-US and US-Mexico borders. Based on this program and drawing on recent mobilities research, this presentation will consider some of the politics of these expanded forms of militarized visuality and surveillant aerial governance of mobility in border control. The second part will consider recent counterpractices in the fields of drone visuality and mobility developed in amateur drone and activist contexts. It will close with a speculative prototyping thought experiment exploring what a noborder drone might do in the context of the alternative mobilities enacted and defended in migrant justice movements.