Technologies of power and human suspicion: Negating indigenous knowledge through online toponymy in an asylum-seeking procedure

While drawing on an ongoing interpretive ethnographic enquiry dealing with asylum-seeking procedures and the role that socio-technological platforms play in asylum seekers’ lives, the present contribution focuses more closely on the role of the internet in the organisation and recognition of indigenous knowledge during an asylum-seeking adjudication happening in a power saturated environment like that of police hearings.

More specifically, the present contribution addresses the discrepancies between the narrative matrix emerging from the story narrated by an asylum-seeking applicant and the type of web-based factual knowledge and narration matrix sought by the officials judging the truthfulness of the application. 

The case documented here, demonstrative of the global politics of suspicion when dealing with asylum-seeking, also serves the function of laying bare the torn ligaments around the bones of nation-state border policies and globalisation. It embodies how human beings migratory experiences become enregistered into administrative prescriptive accounts of how someone should prove the authenticity of his/her own indigenous identity claims. 


Massimiliano Spotti

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Digital Humanities Tilburg