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Accepted Paper:

Mobile lives, immutable facts: the quest for truth in family reunification  
Anna-Maria Tapaninen (University of Eastern Finland)

Paper short abstract:

This paper discusses the making of facts in family reunification procedures in Finland. In lieu of credible documents, many applicants have to convince the authorities through details of family life and the results of DNA analysis. The most disadvantaged of applicants are suspect and easily excluded.

Paper long abstract:

This paper looks at family reunification in Finland on the basis of interviews and court decisions. Family reunification has formed a major "channel" for legal entry into Europe. The admissibility of families is contingent on their resources and on varying categories of eligibility, and the techniques of proof themselves create differences between applicants. Documents, the minutiae of narratives and DNA analysis are intertwined as evidence that can establish or refute the claims presented. The routine use of the biotechnological tools of DNA profiling and medical age assessment creates an illusion of precision and objectivity. The details of family life are made into facts, "averaged out" or "made flat": they are treated as immutable mobiles (Latour 1986). This quest for truth brings into view a pivotal paradox: the assumption of immutability and permanence of true families stands in stark contrast to the world of forced mobility and insecurity. The complexities of mutable forms of relatedness in the conflict-ridden zones of the world easily become the basis for exclusion. DNA profiling targets the most disadvantaged of applicants, especially the ones with a refugee background, who lack credible documents and whose family life is suspect because of its strangeness. Hence, all families are not worthy of protection "by society and the State", to quote the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Panel P111
Mobilities, inequalities, power
  Session 1