Public Lectures

To participate, click on the links below in the description of each lecture.

Mo, 16th, 15:30-17:00

Professor of Social and Cultural Anthropology at University of Helsinki

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Biographical description:
Sarah Green is Professor of Social and Cultural Anthropology at the University of Helsinki. She has carried out fieldwork on the Greek-Albanian border, in southern Greece, in London and in Manchester, and is currently the leader of a five-year research project called Crosslocations: rethinking relative location in the Mediterranean (see ). Her work for that project is the basis of this presentation. Across her career, she has focused on issues relating to anthropology of space, place, borders and location, whether the theme of the research was the politics of gender and sexuality (Urban Amazons, St Martins Press 1997), border politics (Notes from the Balkans, 2005) or a variety of other topics, such as the introduction of the internet to Manchester, the understanding of money and trade in the Aegean region, or, most recently, the spatial politics of the movement of animals and attempts to manage the spread of zoonotic disease across the Mediterranean region.

Lecture description:
In 1920, a shipment of live cattle from India destined for Brazil stopped off in Antwerp, Belgium. The cattle were infected with rinderpest, and the shipment triggered a transnational outbreak of the disease. Four years later in 1924, an international organization, the Office International des Epizooties (OIE) was founded to coordinate international responses to the outbreak of animal-borne diseases. It is now called the World Organization for Animal Health (but still referred to as the OIE), and its main job is to carry out surveillance of animal movements across the planet and closely monitor the spread of their diseases. Nowadays, it is digitally tracking wild animals and fish as well as livestock. For comparison, the World Health Organization (WHO), which oversees transnational health issues affecting humans, was founded 24 years after the OIE, in 1948. The OIE developed out of the intensification of animal transport across the planet and the perhaps inevitable increase in the speed and extent of the spread of animal-borne diseases. These days, there are sophisticated digital surveillance systems that assist with the tracking, including the World Animal Health Information System (WAHIS), which is coordinated with the Global Early Warning System (GLEWS) and a variety of other digital surveillance systems whose job it is to track the movement of animals and their diseases across borders. Drawing on visits to different parts of the Mediterranean region to meet livestock traders, farmers, pastoralists, veterinarians, zoologists and other animal researchers, as well as local representatives of the OIE, the lecture describes how the movement of animals across the Mediterranean involve different kinds of borders from the ones crossed by humans. The lecture considers the surveillance systems being used in the contemporary period and historically to conduct surveillance of the nonhuman, focusing particularly on the Mediterranean region. By outlining the different kinds of logic used to track and control the movement of animals, the lecture aims to highlight the relations and separations between contemporary border controls aiming to control people, and those aiming to control animals and zoonotic disease.

Department of Philosophy and Communication Studies at the University of Bologna
Mo, 23th, 14:05-15:05

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The lecture will map current developments in the digital management of migration in Europe and introduce the notion of “Alterity Processing” as the data infrastructures, knowledge practices, and bureaucratic procedures through which populations unknown to European actors are translated into “European-legible” identities. How are people on the move enacted by the interplay of multifarious data systems used at the European border? How do “migrants”, “refugees”, “irregulars” come into being through the mediation of data infrastructures that are often interoperable? Beyond easy assumptions, how are stereotypes de facto built through classifications that silence most aspects of people’s identities? Drawing on research data collected since 2017 at diverse locations throughout Europe in the context of the Processing Citizenship research program (, Pelizza’s lecture analyzes the data infrastructures used to classify people caught at the borders. It will focus on the biometric translation of people and bodies into data, as well as on the data models underpinning national and supra-national information systems used to identify and sort third country nationals trying to enter Europe. All in all, this lecture will uncover the sociotechnical and classificatory mechanisms that bring to the enactment of people on the move as alterity, and will show possible direction in which “things could be otherwise”.

University of Applied Sciences, Kiel, and Prof. Dr. Brigitta Kuster, Humboldt University of Berlin
Wed, 25th, 14:05-15:05

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The presentation deals with the recourse to the body at the border and aims to outline some of the particular problems based on control policies and its further processing as a database-supported identity in the context of European migration policy. In this way, we want to contribute to the politicization of the constitutive instability of an embodied identity. In the first part of the presentation we take up three cases. They have occurred as a result of refugee movements into Europe from 2015 onwards and, for their part – as we will show, not at all rationally justified -, have been conjured up to create scandals and then used as arguments to promote both the social and political acceptance and the desirability of increasing data interoperability and extending the scope of application, as can be seen from the EURODAC amendment that is currently underway. In the second part, we summarize the EURODAC Recast – outlining a new phase of development of the socio-technical assemblage, which is producing an embodied identity of migration in the European development and research institutions of biometric identification and mobility control.

Lectures for Summer School participants only

Viadrina Center B/ORDERS IN MOTION, European University Viadrina
Tue, 17th, 14:35-16:00

Migration is an issue fiercly contested. Albeit migrants may encounter some sympathy as individuals or smaller groups, the imagination of migration as a dynamic and transformative large-scale phenomenon evokes strong sentiments of unsettledness among relevant parts of the population. The prevalent nativist image that the migrating “them” may endanger “our” public security, wealth and welfare fuels efforts to strictly control and contain cross-border movement of people. The fortification of state borders and intensification of migration control employ digital tools for border-crossing related data collection and processing with the promise to facilitate security for “Us”. Today, governments assembled in the UN officially share the minimal consensus to cooperate in border protection and migration control and to strive jointly for safe, orderly and regular migration. Although dealing with an incommensurable issue, the current policies to curb Covid-19 pandemic strenghtens the propensity to respond to perceived threats and unsolved problems with bordering practices. However, the presence of officially unwanted but economically needed migrants and the deadly fatalities on international borders indicate that current policy preferences fail goal attainment but entail a blatant contempt for self-declared human rights values. In order to overcome moralizing stalemate debates, it seems to be promising to make a step back and appraise the primary conflict lines around migration in order to imagine “real utopian” responses which constitute alternatives to knee-jerk migration control and bordering policies. Eventually, the question occurs how the possibilities of digital tools may contribute to the process of approaching such a “real utopia”. – The presentation does not aim to provide a comprehensive analysis of contested migration and conflict lines but to familiarize with an future-looking approach to address and dissolve the contestedness of migration.  


European University Viadrina
Fri, 20th, 13:30-14:30

Questions of gender and sexuality are generally not treated as important concerns in the literature on migration and border management, with the exceptions of gender and sexuality as grounds for asylum, and gender and sexuality in political anti-immigration discourses. However, drawing among others on Foucault to highlight the biopolitical dimension of migration and border management, the talk will present historical and contemporary examples of how gender and sexuality can matter, both in the regulation of migration and in the lifeworlds of migrants and their social networks.

Viadrina Center B/ORDERS IN MOTION, European University Viadrina
Fr, 20th, 14:35-15:35

In 2015, the so-called Balkan route became the focus of the European media as it became the main route for irregular migrants from the global south to reach the wealthier states of the EU.  Since then, border and migration management along the “Balkan Route” has changed significantly. After formalizing the route by creating a so-called corridor, it was closed again in spring 2016. This was followed by the securitization of the borders. In my presentation, I would like to address the new modalities of border and migration management in the Balkans, and in particular the use of digital technologies for border and migration management. In doing so, I highlight two very different strategies: First, the detection of irregular migrants at the inner fringe of the EU, which is regularly followed by unauthorized push-backs; second, the increasingly digitalized registration of migrants in the outer zones of the EU, which focuses on the individualized control of their movement. While the first strategy is in the spotlight of human rights organizations, the latter is developing more covertly but could be more far-reaching, as it sets the stage for EU states to legally return migrants to southeastern European states. This would turn the Balkan states even more systematically into a “backyard of Europe”. In my presentation, I would like to provide an embedded view of migration and border management by also highlighting the pitfalls of the new management system.

European New School of Digital Studies, European University Viadrina
Mo, 23th, 15:10-16:10

Empirical evidence is mounting that artificial intelligence applications threaten to discriminate against legally protected groups. This raises intricate questions for EU law. The talk will discuss why existing categories of EU anti-discrimination law do not provide an easy fit for algorithmic decision making. Furthermore, victims won’t be able to prove their case without access to the data and the algorithmic models. However, such access rights could be found in data protection law, which also offers other provisions for tackling algorithmic discrimination. Drawing on a growing computer science literature on algorithmic fairness, this talk will seek to unfold an integrated vision of anti-discrimination and data protection law to enforce fairness in the digital age. However, it will also discuss what legal constraint exist for technical fairness tools that seek to mitigate discrimination in data sets and outcomes of data-driven processes.

European New School of Digital Studies, European University Viadrina.
Tue, 24th, 14:05-15:30 

The relationship of infrastructure and nation states has been characterized by a modern promise of stability: large infrastructure projects such as roads, electricity or telecommunication systems were driven by nation states, at least until the 1960s. This promise of stability has also from the early 20th century on characterized European infrastructure projects, creating a „hidden integration“ (Misa/Schot 2005) of Europe by engineering infrastructural Europeanism. This modern promise has been broken many times since the 1970s: by privatization and deregulation, the rise of private platforms, by large scale public-private digital infrastructure projects. The European Union, on the other hand, has also changed and turned into an experiment in post-national constitutionalism. How can we as researchers, but also as political actors and citizens map, understand and co-design current technopolitical projects such as Europe’s digital migration and border control? The talk will introduce some conceptual tools, some guidelines for re-design and a few formats and ideas for intervention.

Catholic University of Applied Sciences, Mainz
Wed, 25th, 13:00-14:00

How do border security practitioners engage with data and technology? What are the consequences and implications of such new investments into border security? The example of the UK is particularly interesting because governments have invested high efforts into constructing a more stringent, efficient and secure UK border for decades. The notion of e-Borders in the UK context represents an assemblage comprising abstract conditions, concrete objects, and agents whose roles often manifest themselves through perceptions and practices. Drawing upon a variety of empirical data, I will exemplify how the e-Border assemblage are constructed, but also discontinuities and frictions are included in this datafied phenomena of border control. Apart from being never entirely coherent, and always being re-made, this representation of UK borders also has an impact of public perceptions and discourses.

European University Viadrina

Networks, imbroglios and hybrids are part of what geographers have defined as “the border assemblage”. In this conglomerate where human and non-human actants conflate, the contestation over the right to move across borders goes hand in hand with certain processes of subjectification. The lecture will analyze such processes in the case of the EU-Moroccan border assemblage around the fenced Spanish exclaves of Ceuta and Melilla. Here the high-tech barrier devices coexist with the self-fabricated prosthetic artefacts crafted by people on the move in order to climb the fence, as well as with the human-non-human symbiotic formations that emerge when migrants attempt to cross the land border camouflaged in the interior of cars, boats or suitcases. We will discuss the political and cultural implications brought about by such material formations, as well as the human and non-human hybridizations that emerge as part of the border assemblage. In these scenarios, not only “border struggles” unfold, but it is the very definition of the human underlying them what is at stake, with the latter becoming the product of what can be considered as a “racializing assemblage”.