Datafy, choke and disregard. Refugees’ subjectivities and asylum’s digital disruptions in Greece.

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This presentation focuses on the financialisation of refugee humanitarianism in Greece, bringing attention to the Cash Assistance Programme, which is the first EU-funded project in Europe of financial support to the asylum seekers, coordinated by UNHCR. This latter consists in the delivery of a monthly financial support to asylum seekers given on debit cards inside hotspots and refugee camps.

The presentation will deal with three aspects. First, it focuses on the peculiar political technologies of government that it enforces, bringing attention to the modes for governing refugee population in transit. It contends that the implementation of debit cards for asylum seekers needs to be analysed within a much broader constellation of technologies that are used in refugee humanitarianism and that often obstruct migrants’ access to rights and services (such as the compulsory Skype call to lodge an asylum application in Greece). Second, it grapples with the specific effects of subjectivation produced by this temporary and exclusionary mechanism of financial support, together with the forms of value extraction that stem from it. It argues that to be at stake are modes of temporary incorporation into the financial circuits that push migrants to act as if they were citizens and consumers, therefore playing on a fictional dimension. Third, it takes into account the data circulation activities that are connected to it, analysing what I call the circuits of financial humanitarianism and explaining in detail how data is shared between the different actors involved (banks, IGOs, Greek authorities and NGOs).

The presentation shows that far from generating financial inclusion, the techniques of financialisation of humanitarianism should be situated among measures for regaining control over unruly movements, predicated upon exclusionary and temporary mechanism of government. In the final part, the talk will focus on the antinomies between freedom and autonomy that the practices and discourses on “refugee digitalities" are predicated upon. It highlights how the notion of autonomy has been appropriated by international organisations, such as the UNHCR, as well as in refugee studies literature, to craft and justify measures of containment that are supported by the use of digital technologies.

Martina Tazzioli is Lecturer in Politics & Technology at Goldsmiths College, London. She is the author of ‘The Making of Migration. The biopoltics of mobility at Europe’s borders’ (Sage, 2020), ‘Spaces of Governmentality: Autonomous Migration and the Arab Uprisings’ (2015) and co-author with Glenda Garelli of ‘Tunisia as a Revolutionised Space of Migration’ (2016). She is co-editor of Foucault and the History of our Present (2015) and Foucault and the Making of Subjects (2016). She is co-founder of the journal Materialifoucaultiani and a member and on the editorial board of the journal Radical Philosophy.