The politics of big borders: Data (in)justice and the governance of refugees

Philippa Metcalfe, Lina Dencik


This article provides an overview of the collection and uses of data in relation to European border regimes. We analyse the significance of these developments for the governance of refugee populations and make the case that within the current policy context of European border control, data functions to systematically stigmatize, exclude and oppress ‘unwanted’ migrant populations through mechanisms of criminalisation, identification, and social sorting. This, we argue, highlights the need to engage with data politics in a way that considers both the politics in data as well as the politics of data, highlighting the agendas and interests that advance the implementation of these technologies, privileging justice concerns on terms that go beyond techno-legal solutions, and positioning those who are most impacted by developments at the forefront of discussions.

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