(E02)
The European Other as site of institutional experiment. Articulating friction in infrastructures for processing alterity
Location Bowland North Seminar Room 7
Date and Start Time 27 Jul, 2018 at 14:00
Sessions 2

Convenors

  • Annalisa Pelizza (University of Twente) email
  • Melpomeni Antonakaki (Technical University of Munich) email

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Chair Melina Antonakaki (Technical University of Munich), Annalisa Pelizza (University of Twente)
Discussant Anne-Marie Fortier (Lancaster University), Lucy Suchman (Lancaster University)

Short abstract

This panel seeks to investigate the frictions arising between established institutional and emerging knowledge infrastructures in the management of the "European Other". We ask how such infrastructures constitute experiments in enacting individuals and institutions.

Long abstract

European "alterity processing" (Pelizza under review) via expert institutions has been developed, shifted and re-negotiated following multi-level changes in the order of governance. The so called "Hotspot approach" addresses the ongoing crisis of the Dublin System, while as at the same time it inherits and re-distributes all of Dublin's institutional components in novel settings.

This panel seeks to investigate the frictions arising between established institutional and emerging knowledge infrastructures in the management of the "European Other". Adopting an open understanding of Otherness, from migrant and refugees to travellers, we ask how such infrastructures constitute experiments in enacting individuals and institutions.

Hotspots are spaces where legal, medical and geopolitical matters of concern are worked out. As such, they convene multiple forms of knowledge, mediate among some of them, silent some others. At the fringes of Europe where the approach has been implemented so far, "spaces of experimentation" not yet shaped by concrete policy and refined regulations have been carved out, bringing together people, data and diverse technologies in a trial-and-error setting (Antonakaki and Kasparek 2017). However, Hotspots are not the only such spaces. By designing and developing data infrastructures that privilege certain standards instead of others, trans-national IT engineering labs also contribute to the legitimization of specific forms of knowledge about the European Other, while silencing others.

We suggest that the strategic horizon of such techno-social assemblages of alterity management cannot be caught if not recurring to an STS understanding of infrastructures as coalescing experimental practices, knowledge tensions, polities transformation.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.

Papers

Processing alterity, shaping the order of Europe

Author: Annalisa Pelizza (University of Twente) email
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Short abstract

The paper asks how contemporary data infrastructures for processing migrants and refugees at the border, as well as inside Europe, shape the European order. As such, it aspires to contribute to technology studies on the infrastructural construction of Europe.

Long abstract

The paper asks how contemporary data infrastructures for processing migrants and refugees at the border, as well as inside Europe, shape the European order. As such, it aspires to contribute to technology studies on the infrastructural construction of Europe.

Notably, it introduces data infrastructures for "alterity processing" as a field of inquiry for Science and Technology Studies concerned both with the management of Otherness and with the infrastructural construction of polities. Drawing on fieldwork conducted at Hotspots involved in registration and identification (R&I) procedures in the Mediterranean Sea, as well as on a study of interoperable data architectures across Europe, it suggests that institutional practices, (meta)data and procedures designed to translate unknown people into European-readable identities co-produce migrant people and polities.

Harmonising the country of origin information infrastructure

Author: Jasper van der Kist (University of Manchester) email
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Short abstract

This paper investigates the country of origin information infrastructure. By analysing the frictions that occur between national research units as well as European efforts to overcome them, it asks how this emergent knowledge system becomes implicated in the European governance of asylum.

Long abstract

As the number of asylum seekers increase, and flight routes become more complex, European governments recognise the importance of having a restricted and qualified group of professionals producing Country of Origin Information (COI). In the past two decades, practically all European countries have established dedicated research units producing country information for both asylum officials and policy-makers. Besides being a national effort, country information is high on the agenda of the Common European Asylum System (CEAS). For instance, the joint gathering and provision of COI has become a core tasks of the European Asylum Support Office (EASO).

STS has long recognised that our world "massively underdetermines what scientific practices can say about it" (Barry 2001:23), and the complex world of conflict and persecution is no exception. Country research is marked by extreme ambiguity and methodological differences lead to widely divergent knowledge claims. Moreover, disparities between national COI units poses problems for formulating a common European response to asylum issues, spurring calls for further harmonisation.

Relying on document analysis, interviews, and survey findings, this paper maps out the country information infrastructure. It focuses on the 'science friction' (Edwards et al. 2011) between different organisations working with information about the refugee-sending world, as well as emerging European efforts to resolve problems of difference and strengthen cooperation by means of standard guidelines, training modules, and data-sharing systems. Finally, the paper discusses its political implications, including the legitimising role of knowledge in the governance of asylum and the asymmetrical effect of displacing migrant voices.

Media narratives about transnational criminal surveillance systems: constructing the "European others"

Authors: Marta Martins (University of Minho) email
Helena Machado (University of Minho) email
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Short abstract

This paper investigates the media's narratives about the uses of DNA technologies in transnational criminal cases. It aims to explore how the media portrays transnational criminal surveillance systems along political and moral processes of constructing the "European others".

Long abstract

At the heart of the European Union's security policies is the continued commitment to the expansion of technological infrastructures for the exchange of large-scale intelligence data for criminal investigations. In this context, the transnational exchange of DNA data for fighting cross-border crime and terrorism is gaining increasingly visibility in terms of the design and development of infrastructures for the surveillance of criminalized populations. This paper aims to contribute to the on-going debates in STS and critical surveillance studies by investigating the media's narratives about such infrastructures in transnational criminal cases. In particular, the paper explores how the media portrays transnational criminal surveillance systems along political and moral processes of constructing the "European others".

The paper includes a historical analysis (1990-2017) of ninety news related to the coverage of transnational crimes referring to the use of technological systems of DNA data exchange. These news were published in newspapers of five European countries, namely Portugal, Spain, the United Kingdom, France, and Germany.

The key argument is that the media narratives circulate sociotechnical imaginaries that relate on the one hand, to the legitimacy of DNA technologies; and, on the other hand, to criminalization of certain social and ethnic groups and particular nationalities. Therefore, the media narratives intersect imaginaries about infrastructures for surveillance of criminality, with geopolitics, imaginaries of genetics applied in crime fighting, and categories of suspicion.

'Folded Infrastructure' two years on: what is at stake when unregulated spaces generate "best practices"?

Authors: Melpomeni Antonakaki (Technical University of Munich) email
Bernd Kasparek (University of Göttingen) email
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Short abstract

This paper proposes the concept of 'folded infrastructure' for addressing the politics of 'hotspots' at the external European border. We ask what can hybrid, unfinished, expendable, short-lived infrastructure show that is relevant to the question of Europe, Europeanisation and its conflicts?

Long abstract

In this paper we offer a theorisation of hotspot operations as a 'folded infrastructure'; a concept that allows dynamic force fields of political and moral struggles to appear while found digested, squeezed, transformed or sustained through infrastructural change. The approach is inspired by STS scholar Penelope Harvey's work, which has argued for setting into motion the topological quality of the infrastructural relation to produce multiple narratives of state- and polity- making (2012). For developing what we perceived as topological rather than geographic or geopolitical at the External European border, we draw from our own observation /intervention material and related studies in the span of two years (2015-2017). We are interested in 'minor narratives' (Deleuze and Guattari, 1986) of Europe -making, so we start one step before the powerful 'centres of calculation' (Latour, 2005), at lowly frictions during hotspot enclosures of testimony, labour and pre-registration. We thus are able to point out ways that the opened-up by the hotspot Approach (2015) 'spaces of experimentation' relate to current generalisable "fruits" for policy or regulation. Our analysis shows how performing state-space and state-responsibility does not necessarily coincide neither with territoriality (as an integrated and networked national narrative) nor sovereignty (as an integrated body politic).

"Something like hospitality": the "illegal" migrant in discourses and materialities regarding pre-removal centers and registration/identification infrastructures after the EU-Turkey deal

Authors: Ermioni Frezouli (University of Twente) email
Annalisa Pelizza (University of Twente) email
Aristotle Tympas (National and Kapodistrian University of Athens) email
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Short abstract

The paper will introduce to an argument concerning the analogy and interaction between registration/identification infrastructures and pre-removal centers.

Long abstract

The paper will introduce to an argument concerning the analogy and interaction between registration/identification infrastructures and pre-removal centers. The focus will be on the rhetoric and materialities involved in the paradigmatic case of registration/identification infrastructures operating on the island of Chios and the pre-removal center that has been planned for the same island. Following the EU-Turkey deal, migrants arriving to Chios could not move freely to the mainland. The first part of the paper will introduce to details on the way this center has been presented and promoted by politicians from the central and local government, the press and the police. The second will give an outline of the registration/identification infrastructure used in Chios. In the third part of the paper, the operational philosophies of the two -pre-removal center and registration/identification infrastructures—will be compared. The paper will conclude by arguing that the two share the same philosophy, central to which is a key shift: from assuming that all migrants are legally entitled to an application for a refugee status to treating them in a manner that makes it practical impossible to pursuit such status.

The research has been conducted in the context of the ERC-funded Processing Citizenship project.

Marginal stories of an EU database: Liminal data objects in the EU-Turkey Statement

Author: Vasileios Spyridon Vlassis (IT University Copenhagen) email
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Short abstract

This paper examines the way that legislations governing the use of systems and databases designed for purposes as different as law enforcement and migration control intertwine with the practices of different Member States, by looking at the correlation between EURODAC and the Prüm Convention.

Long abstract

In the context of the EU's border regime the multi-level process of the construction of the "Other", is heavily mediated by the registration, storage and comparison of personal and biometric data in large, often interconnected digital databases. These ICT tools not only enable (if not enforce) certain realities on the subject/migrant but have played an important role in the extensively discussed ontological transformation of bordering.

The function of the aforementioned tools, is usually legislated in a responsive manner, draws from often re-occurring "emergency and crisis" discourses, and heads towards greater interoperability and constant expansion of scope. Reflecting the different realities and political agendas of different Member States, the implementation of this legislation is not always smooth, as the story of the Dublin Regulation has shown.

Seeking to enrich the critical discussion around the use of such databases and the function creep phenomenon that accompanies their design and use, this paper will discuss two instances of use of biometric data, namely the EURODAC database and the Prüm Convention. Examining the interference of the legislations governing these two different systems, the paper seeks to conceptualise "unorthodox" uses of data as the outcome of different practices among EU Member States, in the "margin" of the EU border control and asylum system.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.