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Accepted Paper:

Work and views from a control room at a Swedish immigration detention center  
Aina Backman (Department of Social Anthropology, Norwegian University of Science and Technology)

Paper short abstract:

This paper discusses the use of surveillance technology in a control room at an immigration detention center in Sweden. The paper shows how monitoring of detainees places demands on employees and shapes their inter-employee relation as well as their perception of detainees.

Paper long abstract:

This paper explores work in a control room at a Swedish immigration detention center, wherefrom camera surveillance, monitoring of doors and communication between employees is coordinated. I look closely at what the use of technology does for the sociality between employees and how this shapes their experience of the work. I ask what the encounter in the control room does for the sociality between employees when performing their tasks and how this plays out in relation to detainees? I show how the use of surveillance technology brings about a set of concerns that place demands on the inter-employee communication. The argument takes off from Heidegger’s questioning of technology (1977) and suggest that issues arising in connection to the implementation of new technology directs attention towards technology rather than the people subject to it. This has the effect of directing focus away from the consequences of confinement. In the execution of coercive measures, surveillance technology keeps employees busy with the technical on behalf of the social, which has consequences for how detainees are perceived. The paper contributes by adding knowledge of the work in a control room arguing it being part of the transformation of the Swedish immigration detention regime.

Panel P029a
Experiencing and Resisting Technologies of Confinement, Surveillance and Data Extraction [Anthropology of Confinement Network] I
  Session 1 Friday 29 July, 2022, -