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Infrastructure of compassionate repression: making sense of biometrics in Kakuma refugee camp

Iazzolino, Gianluca ORCID: 0000-0003-4153-1521 (2021) Infrastructure of compassionate repression: making sense of biometrics in Kakuma refugee camp. Information Technology for Development, 27 (1). 111 - 128. ISSN 0268-1102

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Identification Number: 10.1080/02681102.2020.1816881


My article focuses on the pilot of a Biometric Identity Management System (BIMS) for the distribution on in-kind aid in Kakuma refugee camp, in Kenya’s Turkana county, to examine the perception of biometric systems of verification by refugees. It explores how Somali refugees reflect on the implications of BIMS for their relations vis-à-vis humanitarian organizations, the Kenya state and other refugees, making sense of the humanitarian rationality tasked with both managing and policing populations in need. It thus argues that biopolitical technologies such as biometrics highlight, and heighten, the tension between care and surveillance as refugees challenge the official motives behind biometric infrastructures with counter-narratives situated in a specific socio-political milieu. Through an intense interpretative labor, which I captured in interviews and focus group discussions in Kakuma and Eastleigh, Nairobi, refugees open a crack in the apolitical veneer of humanitarianism, revealing, and challenging, the politics of biometrics.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2020 The Author
Divisions: International Development
Subjects: Q Science > QA Mathematics > QA75 Electronic computers. Computer science
J Political Science > JZ International relations
Date Deposited: 07 Sep 2020 14:18
Last Modified: 07 Apr 2024 04:45

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