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The introduction provides a performance-based analysis of airport security. The aesthetics of transparency is used to moralize biopolitical distinctions drawn between populations presumed capable of reflexive governance and those excluded from the project of risk management. In the post-9/11 era, consent and coercion are knotted together in complex ways that are difficult to disentangle. The different types of transparency at work across security cultures of terrorism prevention are defined, including voluntary, forcible, and involuntary. Recent work in surveillance studies is critiqued. This calls for a revised conception of asymmetrical transparency, which attends to the uneven application of the aesthetics of transparency across bodies and contexts.

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