Panel 3 - Data circulations: Rethinking Sovereignty, Territory, and Citizenship

Tuesday, 27 June, 9:30-13:00

Panel Presenters

Part 1
- Nina Amelung: Circulating Technologies and Expertise across Migration and Crime Control. Biometric Surveillance in the Policing of the 'Crimmigrant Other' (with Matthias Wienroth, Northumbria University)
- Huub Dijstelbloem: The movability of data processes and sovereignty tests and the emergence of post-colonial border politics
Chiara Loschi: “Ambiguation” between regulation and data practices: The contingent administrative reorganization of task allocation (with Annalisa Pelizza)

     - Coffee Break -

Part 2
- Silvia Masiero: Digital Identity as Platform-Mediated Surveillance
- Paul Trauttmansdorff: The Infrastructural Politics of Access and Belonging: Containing, Channeling, and Detaining Movement (with Annalisa Pelizza)

Panel Discussants
- Aristotle Tympas
- Paul N. Edwards

Annalisa Pelizza

Collection of Abstracts


Panel Abstract


Data production, collection, and circulation involve multiple and diverse processes, designs, formats, or contexts. They shape how people are registered and categorized, how “new” or “old” borders are erected or abolished, how security is understood and defined, how knowledge and power are produced and distributed. In so doing, data processes also shape forms of citizenship—entitlements, rights, acts, or claims—that are no longer bound to the traditional scales of sovereignty and national territories. Contributing to the rich work in STS, global studies, critical border studies, and critical migration studies on the so-called “datafication of mobility and migration management” (Broeders and Dijstelbloem 2016; Leese, Noori, and Scheel 2022; Trauttmansdorff 2017), this panel seeks to investigate the longer-lasting implications and technopolitical reconfigurations of data. It proposes to focus on new forms and scales of sovereignty, territory, and citizenship that emerge from data production and circulation in border and migration regimes.

To produce and circulate information, the construction of data infrastructures has become an integral element of governance formation and alteration. Large-scale information systems collect and store data at different locations, not only at national and EU external borders, but also by inscribing the border on bodies within and beyond territorial boundaries. Data connect these different locations and reorganize sovereignty by networking public and private agencies as well as national, supra- and sub-national actors (Pelizza and Loschi 2023). Data circulations can thus enact different sovereign scales, produce governmental states of security and/or exception, and shape the decision for inclusion and exclusion; in short, data circulations transform the very character of sovereignty.

Data formats, practices, and circulations have also produced new forms of knowledge and authority and thereby enacted new territories and populations (Grommé and Ruppert 2020). They have reshaped borders from geographical lines on the map to multiple spatial and temporal configurations of control that produce both statehood and difference. Spatial authority thus no longer constitutes clear territorial “insides” and “outside”, but rather relational topologies, which can connect multiple places, institutions, technologies, and people. In short, data infrastructures and practices reshuffle the contemporary geographies of power, authority, and rights.

Finally, data have been crucial for establishing, upholding, or undermining citizenship and rights. They have transformed the sociotechnical and epistemological conditions of access and belonging, which allow migrants to move, work, or live, and define the scope for resistance and empowerment. Research in Processing Citizenship has also advanced the argument that data infrastructures co-produce both the individual “other” and political institutions (Pelizza 2020; Pelizza and Van Rossem 2021). To make individuals legible and process them as “alterity”, data are deeply entangled with the oppressive and violent conditions at borders but also provide the grounds for acts of empowerment and citizenship.

This panel, therefore, asks how our traditional understanding of sovereignty, territory, or citizenship is transformed and foregrounds the multiple rationales, infrastructures and technologies, values, ideologies, and visions of data production and circulation in border regimes. For example,

  • How do data (infrastructures) connect actors, institutions, and technologies to produce new forms and scales of sovereignty? How do they shape new orders, knowledges, and decisions of exclusion and inclusion?
  • What forms of territoriality have emerged and how do they differ from traditional imaginaries such as the national (state) territory or the global network?
  • What new grounds do data provide for claims, rights, entitlements, or protection?
  • How do data create new tools of oppression, violence, appropriation, and exclusion, and how can they offer opportunities for emancipation and empowerment?
  • What epistemological and methodological tools in the social sciences do we need to develop to be sensitive to the social and technopolitical implications and changes?





Broeders, Dennis, and Huub Dijstelbloem. 2016. “The Datafication of Mobility and Migration Management: The Mediating State and Its Consequences.” In Digitizing Identities: Doing Identity in a Networked World, edited by Irma van der Ploeg and Jason Pridmore, 242–60. New York: Routledge. DOI: 10.4324/9781315756400


Grommé, Francisca, and Evelyn Ruppert. 2020. “Population Geometries of Europe: The Topologies of Data Cubes and Grids.” Science, Technology, & Human Values 45 (2): 235–61. DOI: 10.1177/0162243919835302.


Leese, Matthias, Simon Noori, and Stephan Scheel. 2022. “Data Matters: The Politics and Practices of Digital Border and Migration Management.” Geopolitics 27 (1): 5–25. DOI: 10.1080/14650045.2021.1940538.


Pelizza, Annalisa. 2020. “Processing Alterity, Enacting Europe: Migrant Registration and Identification as Co-Construction of Individuals and Polities.” Science Technology and Human Values 45 (2): 262–88. DOI: 10.1177/0162243919827927.


Pelizza, Annalisa, and Chiara Loschi. 2023. "Telling ‘more complex stories’ of European integration: How a sociotechnical perspective can help explain administrative continuity and acknowledge heterogeneous agency in the Common European Asylum System" Journal of European Public Policy. DOI: 10.1080/13501763.2023.2197945


Pelizza, Annalisa, and Wouter Van Rossem. 2021. “Sensing European Alterity: An Analogy between Sensors and Hotspots in Transnationals Security Networks.” In Sensing In/Security. Sensors as Transnational Security Infrastructures, edited by Nina Klimburg-Witjes, Nikolaus Poechhacker, and Geoffrey C. Bowker, 262–87. Manchester: Mattering Press. DOI: 10.28938/9781912729111.


Trauttmansdorff, Paul. 2017. “The Politics of Digital Borders.” In Border Politics. Defining Spaces of Governance and Forms of Transgressions, edited by Cengiz Günay and Nina Witjes, 107–26. Springer International Publishing. DOI: 10.1007/978-3-319-46855-6_7.