Accepted Paper:

Monitoring immigrant integration: the reproduction of 'European Others' and imagination of national societies   


Sanne Boersma (Erasmus University Rotterdam)

Paper short abstract:

This paper is an ethnographic study of the monitoring of 'immigrant integration' at social scientific institutions and networks in various West-European nation-states and shows how 'European Others' are reproduced and consequently a national society is imagined.

Paper long abstract:

This paper aims to bring together the fields of STS, postcolonialism and feminism through an empirical study of the monitoring of 'immigrant integration' in West-European societies. On the basis of ethnographic fieldwork at social scientific institutions and networks in the Netherlands, Denmark, Germany and the UK, the paper first of all focuses on how practices of monitoring are to be held accountable in constituting "European Others" in West-European national societies (El-Tayeb, 2011). Second it shows how monitoring makes plausible these national societies through epistemic formulations and interrogates in particular how "anxious practical epistemics of race" are still at work today in professional practices (Stoler, 2008). Empirically the paper examines classification systems including categories such as 'second generation' or 'people with migration background', which show a reproduction of European Others who are mostly born within Europe. Also it questions the seemingly 'neutral' standards in the background of survey questions on for instance religion and modern views. I argue that these practices amongst others enable difference-making, i.e. the production of 'self' and 'other', hence producing postcolonial West-European societies. Rendering observable European Others through monitoring immigrant integration legitimizes who does or does not belong to 'society'. 'Society' I argue is not to be understood as something 'out there' but as being continually reproduced and imagined through knowledge-making and technological practices such as monitoring.

Panel T051
Feminist Postcolonial STS