Temporalities of Migration

Time, Data Infrastructures and Intervention

The dissertation explores the intersections between the temporalities of migration management and border-crossers’ temporalities.

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The dissertation explores the intersections between the temporalities of migration management and border-crossers’ temporalities. Scholarship has widely discussed both the temporalities shaping migration infrastructures and the temporalities of the migration journey. On the one hand, the quest for acceleration (smart borders, time politics of asylum) and pre-emptive governance (databases, mapping-monitoring devices) emerged as the main temporal goals and temporal strategies through which regulating - and hampering - migrants’ mobility. On the other hand, migrants’ temporal experiences have been analyzed in terms of waiting, acceleration and deceleration, cyclicity and repetition. Less attention has been paid to enquire the mutual, constitutive interrelationships and frictions between these two sets of temporalities. To articulate these issues, the dissertation is divided in three main parts. First, I analyze the relation between acceleration and (non)knowledge production by focusing on the “accelerated procedures” for asylum. These procedures are applied to people whose asylum applications are deemed as suspicious and likely to be rejected. I argue that the shortened timeframes shaping these procedures are a tool for hindering asylum seekers’ possibilities to collect and produce evidence supporting their cases, eventually facilitating and speeding up their removal for Member States’ territory. Second, I analyze the encounters between migration management and border-crossers during the identification practices carried out the Hotspots and during the asylum process in terms of “temporal collisions”. I develop the notion of “hijacked knowledge” to illustrate how these “temporal collisions” negatively affect border-crossers’ possibilities of action, by producing a significant lack of knowledge and awareness about the procedures to which they are subjected and their temporal implications. With the concept of “reactive calibration”, on the other hand, I suggest that once migrants become aware of the temporalities of control, they try to appropriate them by aligning their bodies, narrations and identities to those temporalities. The third part of the dissertation describes the situated intervention developed as part of my ethnographic activity. Drawing on participatory design, design justice and STS making and doing, I designed a role-playing game - My documents, check them out - seeking to involve border-crossers in the re-design of the categories usually deployed in migration management. The game was perceived by border-crossers as a learning activity and as a reflexive tool. However, the game proved to be a productive ethnographic device even when played by other actors (scholars, students, activists), as it allowed to reveal their knowledge and familiarity with the dynamics of migration management that are simulated by the game.