Global Trade and Customs Journal

Volume 13 (2018)

Volume 13 (2018) / Issue 3

Thomas Cantens, 'The Political Arithmetic of Borders: Towards an Enlightened Form of Criticism' (2018) 13 Global Trade and Customs Journal, Issue 3, pp. 116–127


This paper addresses the use of data and numbers in border management and proposes a criticism of the criticism against what is commonly named the datafication of borders. The paper aims to show that the so-called datafication applied to commodities crossing borders is not a new process, as a science of merchants accompanied the raise of foreign trade in the seventeenth century. The current phenomenon is a mathematization of borders, producing a particular topology of borders and using ways of computing data and numbers that are politically driven. The paper then describes some calculation principles proper to this new form of border governance and draws the consequences in terms of policy dialogue regarding the nature and management of borders.

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ISSN: 1569-755X
ID: GTCJ2018015