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Volume 72, issue 1
Geogr. Helv., 72, 97-107, 2017
https://doi.org/10.5194/gh-72-97-2017
© Author(s) 2017. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Special issue: Power and space in the drone age

Geogr. Helv., 72, 97-107, 2017
https://doi.org/10.5194/gh-72-97-2017
© Author(s) 2017. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Standard article 24 Feb 2017

Standard article | 24 Feb 2017

Swiss military drones and the border space: a critical study of the surveillance exercised by border guards

Silvana Pedrozo Silvana Pedrozo
  • Institute of Geography, University of Neuchâtel, Neuchâtel, Switzerland

Abstract. This paper focuses on the Swiss border guard's relationship with the border space since the use of military drone systems (ADS-95 Ranger) for surveillance missions. Firstly, the paper highlights how the use of these flying devices both facilitates and limits the acquisition of new knowledge by the border guards. It then explores the way in which the fundamentally mobile and flexible nature of this technology also gives rise to new surveillance practices and identification controls. We show that these changes influence the border guard's relationship with the border. To achieve this, our analysis is based on empirical data obtained from semi-structured interviews with key players in the field, action maps and field observation carried out during a drone engagement in September 2014. One major question therefore guides this study: how do military drone systems – by way of the new knowledge and practices they generate – influence relationships in the border space?

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The paper highlights how the use of Swiss military drones facilitates and limits the acquisition of knowledge for the missions of the border guards. It then demonstrates the way in which the mobile and flexible nature of this technology also gives rise to new surveillance practices and identification controls. Moreover, through this study, the aim is to rethink the real interest of the modern states in acquiring and using new technology to secure the national territory.
The paper highlights how the use of Swiss military drones facilitates and limits the acquisition...
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