A European Data space? Data collection, storage, and connection in European public policies

On 5th July 2022, Dr Sarah Perret will present a paper co-authored with Professor Claudia Aradau titled 'La fabrique des données aux frontières européennes : inscriptions, savoir et suspicion' (The 'Making of Data' at European Borders: Inscriptions, Knowledge and Suspicion) at the AFSP Conference. Dr Perret will present in Session 11 'A European Data space? Data collection, storage, and connection in European public policies'. The conference will take place from 5th-7th July 2022 at the University of Lille.

Abstract of the paper: The ‘making of data’ at European borders: Inscriptions, knowledge and suspicion by Claudia Aradau & Sarah Perret (English):

For several years, the management of European borders has been marked by the collection of information and its processing within institutionalised databases such as SIS, VIS or ETIAS, in the name of the fight against terrorism. Asylum seekers, and more broadly migrants considered as 'irregular', were then the main objects of this data extraction, notably via the EURODAC database. Much of the critical literature has proposed analyses of the effects of this increased collection of biometric data, particularly in the transformation of borders and identities, and the risks involved in terms of data protection and the reinforcement of the already existing blurring between migration and security. Yet data comes in many forms and very few have looked at how it is produced and constituted by various actors, devices and institutions. Extending Ian Hacking's (2004) concept of ‘historical ontology,’ we propose to analyse not the ‘making of people’ but the 'making of data', by identifying what counts as ‘data’ at borders. As digital data is increasingly extracted from migrants' bodies through fingerprinting, screening, facial recognition or interviewing, we are not only interested in how ‘migrants’ are counted and categorised as such, but also how information as 'data' is taken into account and categorised to become ‘inscriptions’ in the sense of Akrich, Callon and Latour (1988). Using NGO reports as well as surveys conducted in Germany and France, we analyse what this European ambition of datafication at the borders consists of empirically. The entanglement of the ‘assemblage’ of these different ‘traces’ then inevitably produces an asymmetry and opacity in the composition and production of the data implemented in European databases that makes the border-crosser suspicious.

Details of the session can be found here.