Controlling the Schengen Information System (SIS II): The Infrastructural Politics of Fragility and Maintenance

Rocco Bellanova, Georgios Glouftsios

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


This article focuses on the Schengen Information System (SIS II) – the largest data infrastructure supporting police cooperation and border controls in the European Union. Through the SIS II, national authorities exchange information about individuals and objects, and this across national and institutional boundaries. Yet, the SIS II does not always perform as anticipated in its design scripts. Following common threads about infrastructural politics across Science and Technology Studies, political geography and critical security studies, we explore fragility and maintenance as being intrinsic to the functioning of data infrastructures and crucial sites of governance. We show how the SIS II is kept under continuous control to operate as a controlling data infrastructure. This article contributes to a critical inquiry into the datafication of border controls by interrogating how data acquire the status of allegedly credible and accurate information. Ultimately, this approach pinpoints the inherent fragility of seemingly mighty data infrastructures and casts a light on those actors and processes that sustain, through maintenance, contemporary digital borders.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)160-184
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Geopolitics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Rocco Bellanova’s work was carried out in the framework of the research project ‘FOLLOW: Following the Money from Transaction to Trial’, funded by the European Research Council, Grant No. ERC-2015-CoG 682317. Georgios Glouftsios’s research has been funded by the Leverhulme Trust (grant number 2014-097) and the School of International Studies at the University of Trento (project STERI: Science, Technology and International Relations) We would like to thank Geopolitics’ Editors, especially Nancy Hiemstra, for taking care of the review process in the middle of a pandemic, as well as the three anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments. We would also like to thank the Special Issue’s Guest Editors– Matthias Leese, Stephan Scheel and Simon Noori–as well as Emily Gilbert, Beste İşleyen, Silvia Aru and Annalisa Pelizza (and the ‘Processing Citizenship’ project’s team) for their feedback on previous versions of this article.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.

Copyright 2022 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Schengen Information System (SIS)
  • European Security
  • border controls
  • infrastructure studies
  • Infrastructural politics
  • science and technology studies (STS)


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