Accepted Paper:

Technologies of sensing and sense making. Frontex Screening and its socio-technical assemblage of truth assessment at Moria Hotspot, Greece  


Silvan Pollozek (Technical University of Munich)

Paper Short Abstract:

This talk analyzes the socio-technical assemblage of Frontex Screenings, where so called "irregular migrants" with or without papers are identified, as a technology of sensing and sense making fabricating identities "true enough" and "processable" for further institutional sorting.

Paper long abstract:

In this talk I elaborate on truth assessment technologies understood as stabile assemblages consisting of techniques, materials and knowledge, which differ not only from the problems and practices of assessing claims as true or false, but also from the entities being brought together.

While DNA tests let probes speak for the person concerned to prove her claims by transferring the matter into the assemblage of a laboratory, police identification arrangements have to come to a conclusion in the very situation of determining a refugee's country of origin and the like whereat an individual is principally not to be trusted and capable of pretending, giving false statements and objections. While laboratories may derive measurements and estimations from objects as modest witnesses, police identification assemblages need to sense the individual's performance due to credibility and to make sense of her statements' content in terms of truth and lie.

I analyze the socio-technical arrangement of Frontex Screenings, where refugees with or without papers are identified, as a technology of sensing and sense making. Based on ethnographic fieldwork on Moria Hotspot I examine the practices of sensing and sense making by studying the interplay of skillful bodies, devices (e.g. screening booklets, questionnaires, Google maps) and taxonomies. I show, how this technology's design oscillates between framing and overflowing identifying credibility and truth successively by selecting, coding and channeling statements while monitoring the interviewee's performance. Finally I discuss pragmatics of truth assessment within the identification and registration procedure, which circles around "true" and "processable" identities.

Panel G01
Scrutinizing (bio-)technological truth assessments