Geomedia Speaker Series - Mark Latonero (US), Sandra Ponzanesi, Utrecht University, Martina Tazzioli, University of London and Ana Valdivia, King’s College London
Datafication and Migration
Digital technologies and datafied systems are increasingly used to surveil, control and manage migration. New automated systems from facial recognition to language detection have profoundly intensified and changed migration and border policies. At the same time, digital technologies also provide systems of help, aid, witnessing, connection and information for people who are seeking asylum or who are on the move. This Geomedia seminar brings together leading scholars in the field of migration studies to discuss the ambivalent and contradictory role of digital technologies for migrants and refugees, as well as the unsettling consequences of datafication in bordering and policymaking.
Mark Latonero, Senior Associate, Center for Strategic and International Studies, US
Sandra Ponzanesi, Professor of Media, Gender and Postcolonial Studies, Utrecht University
Martina Tazzioli, Lecturer in Politics and Technology, Goldsmiths, University of London
Ana Valdivia, Research Associate in Computer Science at the Department of War Studies, King’s College London
Introduction Kaarina Nikunen, Geomedia Guest Professor
Sandra Ponzanesi: Migration and Mobility in a Digital Age: Digital Diaspora and Cosmopolitan Belonging
Mark Latonero: Surveillance Humanitarianism and Displacement
Martina Tazzioli & Ana Valdivia: Making up migrants. Invisibilize, foster and recraft racialised borders through artificial intelligence
Panel discussion and Q&A
Abstracts and bios
Migration and Mobility in a Digital Age: Digital Diaspora and Cosmopolitan Belonging
This talk addresses some of the paradoxes offered by our globalized world of intermittent connectivity (Calhoun, 2017) and troubled belonging (Anthias, 2020), charting possible new directions in digital migration studies from a gendered, postcolonial and cosmopolitan perspective.
In particular, it explores recent ‘turns’ in migration (De Genova, 2019; Appadurai, 2019; Anderson, 2019) and mobility studies (Urry, 2007; Salazar, 2016; Sheller, 2018) and the way they intersect and diverge in accounting for how the experience of displacement is resignified and transformed by new digital affordances. The intervention proposed is to study the role of the media from a bottom-up perspective—migrant users’ engagement with technology for the purpose of acquiring agency, finding expression, establishing new connections and maintaining bonds with their homelands – in their everyday engagement. This perspective allows us to rethink the ways in which digital diasporas are constituted, sustained and negotiated at the local and transnational level. It is therefore important to focus on the spatial and conceptual terms chosen and their application not as normative but as relational, meaning in conversation with other definitions, always fluid, negotiable and porous. (Glissant 1997).
Sandra Ponzanesi is Chair and Full Professor of Media, Gender and Postcolonial Studies at the Department of Media and Culture Studies, Utrecht University, Netherlands. She is PI of the ERC project “Digital Crossings in Europe: Gender, Diaspora and Belonging” CONNECTINGEUROPE. She has published widely in the fields of media, postcolonial studies, digital migration and cinema, with a particular focus on postcolonial Europe from comparative and interdisciplinary perspectives. Among her publications are: “Paradoxes of Postcolonial Culture” (Suny, 2004), “The Postcolonial Cultural Industry” (Palgrave, 2014) and “Gender, Globalisation and Violence” (Routledge, 2014). She is co-editor of “Doing Digital Migration Studies” (Amsterdam University Press, forthcoming 2022) “Migrant Cartographies” (Lexington Books, 2005), “Postcolonial Cinema Studies” (Routledge, 2012), “Deconstructing Europe” (Routledge, 2012), “Postcolonial Transitions in Europe” (Rowman and Littlefield International, 2016) and “Postcolonial Intellectuals in Europe” (Rowman and Littlefield International, 2018). She has also guest edited several special issues on Europe, digital migration and cinema for peer-review journals such as Social Identities, Crossings, Interventions, Transnational Cinemas, Popular Communication, Television and New Media,International Journal of Cultural Studies, Postcolonial Studies and Communication, Culture and Critique (forthcoming).
"Making up migrants. Invisibilize, foster and recraft racialised borders through artificial intelligence"
Martina Tazzioli & Ana Valdivia
In this presentation we build on Ian Hacking’s formulation “making up people” (Hacking, 2006), to investigate how migrants’ subjectivities are produced, affected and targeted by algorithmic-driven systems at the border. We argue that a critical approach to AI in migration governance requires challenging what Foucault called the “repressive hypothesis” (Foucault, 1977) according to which power works mainly through interdiction and repression. Repressive mechanisms, we contend, are part of a broader economy of productive power relations and that artificial intelligence contributes to invisibilise, foster and recraft racialised bordering mechanisms. In the first section, the presentation engages with current debates and academic works on artificial intelligence in migration governance highlighting that many of these mobilise a juridical understanding of power and a primary focus on surveillance. It moves on illustrating how biometric systems at the border have altered the relationship between discourse, subject and truth. In the last part, we will with two socio-technical systems for border governance (iBorderCtrl and the algorithm-based Visa system in the UK), showing that an exclusive focus surveillance overshadows both the failure and limits of these projects and the racialising mechanisms they enhanced.
Martina Tazzioli is Lecturer in Politics & Technology at Goldsmiths. She is the author of “The Making of Migration. The biopoltics of mobility at Europe’s borders” (Sage, 2020), “Spaces of Governmentality: Autonomous Migration and the Arab Uprisings” (2015) and co-author with Glenda Garelli of “Tunisia as a Revolutionised Space of Migration” (2016). She is co-editor of “Foucault and the History of our Present” (2015) and “Foucault and the Making of Subjects” (2016). She is associate editor of the Journal Politics and on the editorial board of the journal Radical Philosophy.
Ana Valdivia is a Research Associate in Computer Science at the Department of War Studies, King’s College London. Her research has explored the performance of computational linguistics models and the design of ethical, transparent, and fair machine learning classifiers. Concerned about the impact that artificial intelligence can have on vulnerable communities, her interest lies in investigating how governmental actors are implementing it. Ana works on the development of digital methods to better understand the production of data and technology for border security. As a researcher, she bridges the gap between computer and social science.