IDentity, crude data and narrative at the border

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperResearchpeer-review

  • Perle Møhl
Based on ethnographic fieldwork among border control agents at a Schengen border point, the paper explores the linkages and dissociations between human and computer intelligence work in the daily operation of border control where voyagers are profiled, their IDs verified and their intentions scrutinized. In accordance with the critique of a trend in research on surveillance systems that sees ”big data”, data base networks and the production and storing of ”data doubles” (Lyon 2007, 2014) as impenetrable ”black boxes” operating in far-away centres of computerized algorithmic intelligence (Andrejevic & Gates 2014; Tsianos & Kuster 2016), my analysis takes an ethnographic approach to the practical work of border control agents. And on the floor where borders are erected and maintained on a daily basis, surveillance, control and data base consulting are indeed very practical and mundane matters, constantly articulated and made apparent to the anthropologist through direct sensory, verbal and affective encounters, negotiations and construction of narratives. The filtering at the border is thus to a large extent produced through direct human interaction, intelligence and profiling, and concerns imagined pasts and projected futures of voyagers, scenarios for which data doubles and “IDentity” constitute only the crude starting points.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date28 Aug 2017
Publication statusPublished - 28 Aug 2017
EventPACSA - 6th Bi-Annual Peace and Conflict Studies in Anthropology - Amsterdam, Netherlands
Duration: 28 Aug 201730 Aug 2017


ConferencePACSA - 6th Bi-Annual Peace and Conflict Studies in Anthropology
Internet address

ID: 186714915