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AOIR Dublin: Life

Updated: Jan 20

27 – 31 October 2020

Speakers: Claudia Aradau & Sarah Perret – Making up data: From migrant traces to border inscriptions




Claudia Aradau and Sarah Perret took part in a panel on ‘The biometric Lives of Migrants: Borders, Discrimination and (in)justice'. The paper we propose to supplement the historical ontology of ‘making up people’ (Hacking 2004, 5) by ‘making up data’ (see also Aradau and Blanke 2015). ‘Making up people’ was coined by the philosopher Ian Hacking to render the ways in which statistics created different types of categories and people came to fit these categories. ‘Making up data’ investigates the ways in which different materialities come to count as data and what is discounted in these operations. To this purpose, we develop a conceptual distinction between digital ‘traces’ and ‘inscriptions.’ While digital traces are increasingly extracted from the bodies of migrants through fingerprinting, screening, facial recognition, or interviews, these traces are processed, combined and recombined to become border inscriptions. It is through these digital ‘scriptural’ operations (Denis 2018, 82) and compositions that migrant traces gain particular social and political relevance as border inscriptions.


The panel description and short versions of the contributions are available here.

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