This workshop explores new directions in the ongoing debate on the entanglements of finance and security (de Goede 2010; Tellmann 2015; Boy 2017; Amicelle 2017) – by focusing specifically on the question of “infrastructure”. Existing work has discussed the historical, conceptual and technological entanglements of economic (esp. financial) and security rationales, that take shape in (financial) surveillance practices and that materialize in technological devices. Our workshop seeks to explore new directions in the finance/security debate, and thereby account for current developments within the field of financial security.
The political significance of financial infrastructures has gained public and political attention with two recent examples. First, the geo-political implications of financial security have been made explicit within the US-imposed Iran sanctions. The US has sought to weaponize the SWIFT system as well as the dollar currency for these purposes. Second, political protest and regulatory concern have been raised amidst Facebook's announcement to launch a new digital currency that is based on the blockchain technology as an alternative infrastructure to the established financial system. Both cases highlight the political importance of financial transactions as well as the value of transactional data that is produced by their use. Money increasingly flows via digital technology and in new forms and ways of exchange. These shifts imply important changes for the handling of financial security as they introduce new points of surveillance, but also new actors into the field (i.e. Apple and Goldman Sach’s launch of a joint credit card, or decentralized cryptocurrencies). While transactional data have long been monitored and used for financial and security purposes, their increasing datafication opens the field to new the implications. Hence, a number of questions arise that touch upon the relation of finance and security. For example, how is datafication at work within finance/security practices? What happens when financial transaction circuits and infrastructures become used for geopolitical ambition? What are the infrastructural data practices around notions of ‘threat finance’ and how do these shape money circuits? How do new forms of money and transactions alter forms surveillance and governance?
In order to tackle these questions, the workshop will focus specifically on the notion of infrastructure(s).i Although the term infrastructure has widely been used to describe large and durable systems and objects, it also accounts for devices and technologies that enable and prefigure the emergence and circulation of objects, humans, services and data. A minimal definition describes infrastructures as “technologically mediated dynamic forms that continuously produce and transform socio-technical relations. That is, infrastructures are extended material assemblages that generate effects and structure social relations, either engineered (i.e. planned and purposefully crafted) or non-engineered (i.e. unplanned and emergent) activities. Seen thus, infrastructures are doubly relational due to their simultaneous internal multiplicity and their connective capacities outwards.” (Harvey et al. 2017: 5; see also Larkin 2013). The concept thereby allows to connect materiality, technology, social actors as well as broader social and political dimensions. As Opitz and Tellmann (2015: 171) have suggested, there is a need to think through the ways in which technical dis/connectivity enables “political collectivity.”