T022
Refugee technologies and mobility into Europe
Convenor:
Lino Camprubi (Max Planck Institute for the History of Science)
Stream:
Tracks
Location:
112b
Sessions:
Friday 2 September, 14:00-15:45, 16:00-17:45 (UTC+0)

Short abstract:

European countries offer technological solutions to the "immigrant crisis", from fences to the EuroSur system. Refugees and migrants have their own technologies of mobility, such as cell-phones and maps. This track explores the mutual adaptations of the technologies used in each side of the border

Long abstract:

The reverses of Europe's "migrant crisis" are Libya's and the Middle-Eastern refugee crisis and the structural economic scarcity of the African region. Similarly, technologies deployed by European countries to manage the crisis also have their reverse. Networks that facilitate mobility into Europe challenge networks of surveillance and systems of razor-wire fences. At both sides of the border, these two broad and non-monolithic families of networks are presented as a response to a counter-network. By focusing on "refugee technologies", this track aims at providing a better understanding of this mangle of networks.

In early 2015, Libyan refugees were dying in the Mediterranean by the hundreds.The situation got even more pressing with refugees fleeing Syria by the hundreds of thousands. This challenges previous legal, institutional and moral assumptions. FRONTEX, the EU agency devoted to managing the borders with non-Schengen countries, has oscillated between strategies of rescue (the Italian-led Mare Nostrum) and strategies of surveillance and expulsion (EuroSur). Now, the Schengen agreement itself seems vulnerable. In turn, migrants and smugglers have revised their routes, means of transportation, strategies of counter-surveillance and even rhetorical technologies.

Putting technology at the center of the refugee crisis will add complexity to the usually shallow interpretations of this humanitarian drama. By revealing the co-evolution of the networks for mobility and blockade, we will show that practical socio-technical arrangements render established categories of analysis insufficient. This will allow for new voices to be heard and possibly will open the door to imagine different futures.