The Transparent Traveler: The Performance and Culture of Airport Security
Performing Involuntary Transparency: The TSA’s Turn to Behavior Detection
This chapter critiques the Transportation Security Administration’s program in behavior detection. Based on select Israeli security techniques, which have been modified according to a contested school of behavioral psychology, the program approaches the passenger/suspect as a discrete individual characterized by neurological, muscular, and skeletal processes understood to be bound up in the body. At the same time, the program has partially embraced what could be characterized as a more fluid understanding of affect as something that circulates between and among bodies, objects, and the airport environment. The demand for affective transparency within airports potentially poses a threat to public participation beyond, insofar as it isolates members of the public, each of whom may be caught in a private experience of the terror of suspicion, and breeds conformity via the pressure to perform inconspicuousness. The chapter draws on the resources of performance studies to offer a critique of the pseudoscience informing behavior detection.