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Public Seminar Series, Hilary term 2023

Forced Migration and Digital Technologies: (Dis)continuities in Actors and Power Relations

Series convenors: Dr Derya Ozkul and Dr Marie Godin

About the series

The rapid development and pervasive diffusion of digital technologies have far-reaching implications for the enforcement of migration regimes. On the one hand, immigration authorities are increasingly using or testing automated algorithmic decision-making systems, machine learning, and predictive analytics. There is widespread agreement in the scholarship on tech-driven migration governance that technological innovations are not deployed evenly nor neutrally across societies; rather, their design tends to intensify and accelerate pre-existing inequalities and hierarchies along class, gender, racial/ethnic, legal, and territorial lines. On the other hand, migrants use digital technologies too in order to navigate their lives, migration and settlement journeys but also to resist and contest these borders leading to new forms of solidarity and intimacy.

The debates around digital technology often focus on the novelty of the processes and practices they provoke. In many ways, this discourse mirrors policy language that biometrics, technology, and data are ‘silver bullets’ and provide new solutions to the global governance of migration, often termed ‘technosolutionism’. While new forms of governance and practice are provoked by technology, there are also many continuities in rationalities for data use. This series of seminars at the Refugee Studies Centre will explore the continuities and discontinuities around the uses of technology, new and old power relationships that arise or continue, and actors that benefit or are benefiting from these technologies. This series of talks will host some of the leading scholars in this field in person at the Refugee Studies Centre.

Time and location

All seminars will take place in Seminar Room 2, Oxford Department of International Development, 3 Mansfield Road, Oxford, OX1 3TB. Please check the date and time of each seminar as these vary.

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Download the series poster.

Hilary term seminars

Tuesday 24 January, 1-2pm

Algorithms for improving refugee resettlement

Prof Alexander Teytelboym (University of Oxford)


Tuesday 7 February, 1-2pm

Digital labour platforms and migration: making of commoditised workers

Dr Jonas Valente and Dr Funda Ustek-Spilda (Oxford Internet Institute)


Tuesday 21 February, 1-2pm

The digital border and its techno-symbolic assemblages of power

Prof Lilie Chouliaraki and Prof Myria Georgiou (London School of Economics and Political Science)


Tuesday 28 February, 1-2pm

Asylum, digital surveillance and platform power

Prof Claudia Aradau (King's College London)


Thursday 2 March, 12-1pm

Virtual borders: human rights and the fluid subject of algorithmic governance

Dr Dimitri Van Den Meerssche (Queen Mary University of London)