Refugees’ Debit Cards, Subjectivities, and Data Circuits: Financial-Humanitarianism in the Greek Migration Laboratory

Tazzioli, Martina. 2019. Refugees’ Debit Cards, Subjectivities, and Data Circuits: Financial-Humanitarianism in the Greek Migration Laboratory. International Political Sociology, 13(4), pp. 392-408. ISSN 1749-5679 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

This paper focuses on the financialization of refugee humanitarianism in Greece, bringing attention to the Cash Assistance Programme, which is the first European Union–funded project in Europe providing financial support to asylum seekers, coordinated by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. This program consists of the delivery and monthly recharge of prepaid debit cards to asylum seekers inside hotspots and refugee camps. The article deals with three aspects. First, it analyzes the political technologies of government that this system enforces, bringing attention to the modes for governing refugee populations in transit. Second, it considers the data circulation activities that are connected to it, analyzing what I call the circuits of financial humanitarianism and explaining in detail how data is shared between the different actors involved (banks, IGOs, Greek authorities, and NGOs). Third, it explores the specific effects of subjectivation produced by this temporary and exclusionary mechanism of financial support, together with the forms of value extraction that stem from it. The paper argues that far from generating financial inclusion, techniques of financialization of humanitarianism should be situated among measures for regaining control over unruly movements, predicated upon exclusionary and temporary mechanisms of government.

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December 2019Published
26 July 2019Published Online
16 June 2019Accepted

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01 Aug 2019 14:35

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26 Jul 2021 01:26

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Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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