SOAS University of London

Department of Development Studies

Techno-humanitarianism: Rethinking the Securitisation and Victimisation of Refugees

Dr Martina Tazzioli (Goldsmiths, University of London)

Date: 4 February 2020Time: 5:00 PM

Finishes: 4 February 2020Time: 7:00 PM

Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings Room: Djam Lecture Theatre (DLT)

Type of Event: Seminar

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This presentation focuses on the constellation of technologies that migrants need to navigate and come to grips with in Greece, showing how technologies are incorporated in refugee humanitarianism in ways that multiply the obstructions in accessing the asylum system and the financial support they are entitled to. Such an insight into techno-humanitarianism leads us to complicate analyses that focus on the securitisation and victimisation of refugees, investigating how asylum seekers are governed as forced techno-users. Asylum seekers are not only crafted as risky subjects and subjects at risk; nor are they shaped as entrepreneurs of themselves. Rather, logics of securitisation and victimisation are intertwined with the production of hindered subjects, who are legally and physically obstructed in navigating the asylum regime. The talk firstly deals with the Cash Assistance Programme, which is the first EU-funded project in Europe of financial support to asylum seekers, exploring how through prepaid cards, asylum seekers are expected to behave as responsible techno-users and, at the same time, to comply with a series of disciplinary and spatial restrictions. The presentation goes on to analyse the peculiar financialisation of refugee humanitarianism within a broad constellation of technologies that are mandatory in Greece (e.g. Skype, Viber etc.) to access asylum or use the cards. In the third part, I will analyse the governing of refugees through epistemic disorienting that is at the core of techno-humanitarianism: indeed, asylum seekers as forced-techno users need to confront a panoply of technological and bureaucratic steps that are frantically changed over time. The talk concludes with some considerations about how to rethink critique of refugee governmentality in light of the constellation of obstructing technologies that more than monitoring and tracking refugees, disempower them in claiming rights and organising collective struggles.

Martina Tazzioli is Lecturer in Politics & Technology at Goldsmiths, University of London. She is the author of The Making of Migration: The Biopolitics of Mobility at Europe’s Borders (Sage, 2020), Spaces of Governmentality: Autonomous Migration and the Arab Uprisings (2015) and co-author with Glenda Garelli of Tunisia as a Revolutionised Space of Migration (2016). She is co-editor of Foucault and the History of our Present (2015) and Foucault and the Making of Subjects (2016). She is co-founder of the journal Materialifoucaultiani and on the editorial board of the journal Radical Philosophy.

Organiser: Feyzi Ismail (