Machine-Readable Refugees: Navigating biometric systems in Kenya
Dr Keren Weitzberg (UCL)
Public Seminar Series
Wednesday, 02 February 2022, 5pm to 6.30pm
Hosted by Refugee Studies Centre
Public Seminar Series, Hilary term 2022
Race, Borders, and Global (Im)mobility
Series convenor: Dr Hanno Brankamp, Departmental Lecturer in Forced Migration
This seminar series critically interrogates the ways in which militarised borders, migration enforcement, and their racial orderings continue to be normalised on a global scale. The political drive towards expanding walls, policing infrastructures, camps, detention centres, interceptions at sea, push backs, deportations, surveillance, and racist immigration policies that restrict asylum and migration is hereby not only a legacy of past empires but is also indicative of new emerging geographies of (im)mobility, racialisation, and liberal violence. Speakers in this series come from a range of disciplines and will examine global migration through questions of race and racism, coloniality, nationalism, citizenship, belonging, criminalisation, and bordering.
Series poster (pdf)
About the seminar
Centralized biometric systems have become ubiquitous in the humanitarian and refugee aid sectors in recent years, but are also facing increasing scrutiny. This talk will discuss a particularly poignant example of exclusion caused by the introduction of biometric refugee registration in Kenya. Considered neither citizens nor refugees, tens of thousands of citizens cannot obtain national IDs because their fingerprints are in refugee databases. The ongoing dilemma of those caught between the national and refugee systems is more than just a case of techno-solutionism gone wrong. The problem of double registration in Kenya also exposes key institutional tensions at the heart of the refugee sector and raises fundamental challenges for those who see in digital identity technologies the prospect for a ‘post-social’ politics of inclusion and redistribution.
The video of this seminar is available to watch on YouTube.