From 7th to 10th of September the 8th Tensions of Europe (TOE) Conference took place in Athens. The conference is an important event organized by the TOE network, to bring scholars from the realms of history of technology, science and technology studies, critical migration and security studies scholars and many more come together to discuss different aspects and realms of the making of Europe through the lens of technology and infrastructures. A lot of different initiatives, publication projects,
conferences and workshops have been realized since 1999, such as the widely recognized six-volume book series Making Europe: Technology and Transformations, 1850-2000 or the Inventing Europe: European Digital Museum for Science and Technology.
The topic of this year’s conference was Borders and Technology and started with a keynote by Huub Dijstelbloem (University Amsterdam) with the title “The border goes where the movement is” analyzing the Schengen treaty and the set up of border control and mobility management in terms of technopolitics. In the following days parallel sessions elaborated on very different topics concerning borders and technologies, such as „Traveling Technologies“, “International Broadcasting: Challenges in Comparative Radio Research in Eastern Europe“ or „Science diplomacy: Some methodological aspects and Technologies Control, Hazards, Risks“.
One session, which was initiated by Annalisa Pelizza, I found especially interesting, as it posed the question, how the tension between volatility and entrenchment is articulated in border regime infrastructures. Several talks examined how infrastructures for example of Frontex interventions or the Hotspots need to be planned and rolled out over years, but at the same time a lot of current emergencies have to be solved on a short term level. In this regard I also gave a talk about Frontex interventions in Greece and their role on infrastructures of European border and migration management.
Athens was not only the place, where the conference took place, but also an issue present in many talks: Some examined it as urban space, other as a space of borders and boundaries, of poverty or of migration. Dina Vaiou gave her keynote speech about Gendered Technologies of Everyday Survival in the City examining unemployment, low wages and (lacking) support infrastructures.
During lunch breaks three guided tours were offered, where the conference participants visited places such as the National Archaeological Museum.