This paper historically examines how legal concerns inform the design, selection, and deployment of technological assemblages used to monitor and “control” commercial movements along the US-Mexico border at the Mariposa port-of-entry in Ambos Nogales (Nogales, Sonora, Mexico and Nogales, Arizona, United States). In the past two decades there has been an increasing global concern regarding the balancing of market interests with national security at border ports-of-entry and this has led to an intensified monitoring of these narrow commercial chokepoints. At the same time, the surveillance of commercial trade moving through these constrained channels has rapidly transitioned from face-to-face and paper-based mediums to complex systems composed of numerous digital and visualization technologies (e.g., mirrors, cargo container size X-Ray machines, and networked-based communication systems). This paper explores how the tensions between national security and market interests are navigated in the design and adoption of these new technological assemblages reaches back from the present moment to the late 19th century along the US-Mexico border. Until this point, socio-legal scholarship dedicated to tracking border movements has primarily been invested in understanding how visualization technologies are used to track the illegal movement of goods and people. However, this project aims to examine how such new technologies are being used to identify “trusted” logistics providers and monitor and “control” the flow of goods involved in legitimate commercial trade.

About the Presenter

Allison Fish is a Senior Lecturer at the TC Beirne School of Law at the University of Queensland. Her research lies at the intersections of law, socio-cultural anthropology, and science and technology studies. Prior to joining UQ Allison was an Assistant Professor of Informatics at Indiana State University and Visiting Assistant Professor in Comparative Cultural Studies at Ohio State University. To date, the bulk of her work has addressed the application of intellectual property law to the regulation of international markets for South Asian classical health systems. The paper presented in this series is a new project begun in 2018.


About Anthropology Working Papers

The Working Papers in Anthropology seminar series provides a forum for dissemination of anthropological research and ideas among UQ scholars and invited researchers. All students are invited to attend the series and postgraduate students, from honours upwards, are invited to present their research. The aim is to provide opportunities for students, staff and those from outside UQ, to present and discuss their work in an informal environment.


Level 4, Michie Building #09, St Lucia Campus
Seminar Room #443