Digital–Nondigital Assemblages: Data, Paper Trails, and Migrants’ Scattered Subjectivities at the Border

Canzutti, Lucrezia and Tazzioli, Martina. 2023. Digital–Nondigital Assemblages: Data, Paper Trails, and Migrants’ Scattered Subjectivities at the Border. International Political Sociology, 17(3), olad014. ISSN 1749-5679 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

This paper argues that the border regime works through entanglements of digital and nondigital data and of “low-tech” and “high-tech” technologies. It suggests that a critical analysis of the assemblages between digital and nondigital requires exploring their effects of subjectivation on those who are labeled as “migrants.” The paper starts with a critique of the presentism and techno-hype that pervade research on borders and technology, and points to the importance of analyzing historical continuities and ruptures in the technologization of the border regime. It then explores the assemblages of high-tech and low-tech technologies used for controlling mobility and investigates the imbrication of digital and nondigital records that migrants need to deal with and show not only at the border but throughout their journeys and, eventually, to obtain refugee status. The third section discusses migrants’ tactical uses of digital and nondigital records, their attempts to erase or reconstruct traces of their passages, and states’ oscillation between politics of identification and nonidentification. Finally, the fourth section questions the image of the “data double” and contends that, rather than a discrete digital subject, migrants’ digital traces generate scattered digital subjectivities that migrants themselves cannot fully access.

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Funding: This work was supported by funding from the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (SECURITY FLOWS, Grant Agreement No. 819213).

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7 July 2023Accepted
4 September 2023Published Online
September 2023Published

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31 Jan 2024 16:44

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31 Jan 2024 16:50

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Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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