Digital registration of migrants as co-production of citizens, territory and Europe

In this section you can find the project's articles, working papers and other outcomes


Pelizza, A. (2020), ‘“No Disease for the Others”: How COVID-19 data can enact new and old alterities"’, Big Data and Society: 1-10. Published online ahead of printing.


Pelizza, A. and Van Rossem, W. (2021, forthcoming), ‘Sensing European Alterity. An analogy between sensors and Hotspots in transnational security networks’, in Witjes, N., Pöchhacker, N. and Bowker, G.C. (Eds.), Sensing Security. Sensors and the Making of Transnational Security Infrastructure. Manchester: Mattering Press.


Pelizza, A., Lausberg, Y. and Milan, S. (2020, May 14th). ‘Come rendere visibili i migranti nei dati della pandemia’, Internazionale. Available at


Milan, S., Pelizza, A. and Lausberg, Y. (2020, April 28th). ‘Making migrants visible to COVID-19 counting: the dilemma’, Open Democracy. Available at


Pelizza, A. (2020), ‘Blame Is in the Eye of the Beholder: Beyond an ethics of hubris and shame in the time of COVID-19’, Harvard Kennedy School Misinformation Review, 3(Special Issue on COVID-19 and Misinformation): 1-4. DOI: 10.37016/mr-2020-022


Pelizza, A. (2019), ‘Processing Alterity, Enacting Europe. Migrant registration and identification as co-creation of individuals and polities’, Science, Technology and Human Values, 45(2): 262-288: 1-27. DOI: 10.1177/0162243919827927

The article introduces the concept of “alterity processing” to account for the simultaneous enactment of individual “Others” and emergent European orders in the context of migration management. Alterity processing refers to the data infrastructures, knowledge practices, and bureaucratic procedures through which populations unknown to European actors are translated into “European-legible” identities. By drawing on fieldwork conducted in Italy and the Hellenic Republic from 2017 to 2018, this article argues that different registration and identification procedures compete to legitimize different chains of actors, data, and metadata as more authoritative than others. Competing procedures have governance implications, as well, with some actors being included and others being excluded. Furthermore, there is evidence that—despite procedural rigidities—applicants themselves propose alternative chains of actors, data, and metadata that are more meaningful to them. In this tension, it is not only the individual Other that is enacted but also specific bureaucratic orders cutting across old and new European actors and distinctive understandings of “Europe.” From a technology studies perspective, this article engages in a dialogue with the emergent debate on Hotspots, the scholarship about the infrastructural construction of Europe and political sociology.


Dijstelbloem, H. and Pelizza, A. (2019), ‘The State is the Secret. For a Relational Approach to Secrecy’, in Bosma, E., De Goede, M., Pallister-Wilkins, P. (Eds.), Secrecy and Methodology in Critical Security Research. London: Routledge.

This chapter aims to provide methodological and conceptual tools to researchers interested in unpacking the relationship between states and secrecy in the context of border control, migration policies and international mobility. Methodologically, we suggest that the study of the various secrecies involved in these domains of international state politics can benefit from a particular approach that takes into account the situated and performative character of secrecy. Therefore, the chapter will set out some principles that should inform the study of secrecy: (1) a performative stance, (2) the notion of immanence and (3) a set of methods to follow actors. Conceptually, the chapter claims that secrecy can be understood as a relational notion. With this, we mean that states and their constituencies do not exist in a vacuum. Secrecy in the context of border and mobility management constitutes a variety of political relationships, modes of knowing and ways of seeing, not only between the state and its traditional constituencies (i.e., individual citizens, organizations, businesses), but also between states and trans-national polities and actors (including migrants, travellers, European agencies, NGOs and researchers). The “real secret” – we argue – does not concern the specific actions, justifications, intentions or interventions by states but the nature of the state itself.


Pelizza, A. (2017), 'Processing Citizenship. Digital registration of migrants as co-production of individuals and Europe', EASST Review, 36(3).

This article presents the “Processing Citizenship” ERC project hosted by the STǝPS department, University of Twente, on the Journal of the European Association for the Study of Science and Technology (EASST). Processing Citizenship asks how migration enacts Europe. Not a new question in itself, it is usually legally and politically answered. Differently, Processing Citizenship addresses it technically, by asking how data infrastructures for alterity processing co-produce individuals and Europe. The project is carried on by a team of six researchers with backgrounds in anthropology, computer science and sociology.