Talks Biometric borderworlds: an anthropological exploration of biometric technologies, border control, and EU immigration

Biometric technologies – such as fingerprint imaging, iris scanning, and DNA testing – are used by European member states to identify and monitor people seeking entry and/or asylum in the Schengen area. As more than a million refugees and migrants from the Middle East and North Africa have fled to Europe, the intersection between these biometric technologies and border control raises important questions about identity, security, and mobility in contemporary society. What are the social and political impacts of biometric technologies on asylum requests and the practices of immigration officials? How are understandings of citizenship, personhood, and belonging influenced by the introduction of biometric scanners? I will share how our "Biometric Borderworlds" project at the University of Copenhagen is using anthropological methods to understand how a diverse array of actors (refugees, immigration officials, border guards, and activists) experience and interpret biometric technologies. I will also discuss the logic of "securitization" that underlies these developments, the privacy rights of refugees and vulnerable groups (personal biometric data is collected for migrant children as young as six), and why biometric surveillance should be a concern for anyone who believes in a free society. Additionally, I look forward to hearing more from infosec experts & hackers about the security risks of storing this biometric data in centralized databases.


  • Saturday Aug. 26 13:30 - 14:30