“I Don’t Know if It Wanted Me to Dance”. On Leading and Being Led in Human-eGate Interaction





eGates, automation, usability, human-machine-interaction, dance of agency


Automated border controls, like eGates, are becoming an everyday experience when travelling. Besides their contested character as a biometrical border, these access control systems are either taken for granted in their smooth functioning or are seen as forcing humans into a scripted sequence of action. Based on a technographic study of laboratory eGate-testings in Germany, we argue for a different approach in understanding the specific human-machine-interaction. Drawing on Pickering’s (2012) “dance of agency”, we will show that the reciprocal interaction of using an eGate comprises facets of routine, anticipation and mimicry. Attuning to the oscillation of agency, where leading and being led is reciprocal, we must recognize that even automated systems rely on human beings, their bodies and their senses to make adjustments. The analysis suggests that both entities are interwoven in an asymmetric way, which allows seeing it from a new angle that incorporates usability and STS-perspectives to approach border technologies. In doing so, the focus on (laboratory) testing shows that it can bring back and secure human agency within interactions with border technologies.




How to Cite

Paul, B., & Kühne, S. (2023). “I Don’t Know if It Wanted Me to Dance”. On Leading and Being Led in Human-eGate Interaction. Tecnoscienza – Italian Journal of Science & Technology Studies, 14(2), 27–44. https://doi.org/10.6092/issn.2038-3460/17902