Description

In the context of the research project “Sentiments of Bureaucracies: Affective Dynamics in the Digital Transformation of German Immigration Management”, I will ethnographically trace how German administrative bodies that manage migration are digititalizing their tasks and workflow procedures. We understand such administrative programs similar to infrastructure, which undergoes a process of black boxing, and can best be analyzed while breaking and while being constructed or programmed. And this process of infrastructuring is happening right now. It is thus a unique moment to look at the intricacies at the intersection of demands for efficiency on the one hand, and for due process and procedural justice within bureaucracies on the other. In the field of migration management, administrative agencies are at the forefront of digitalization and are under much public scrutiny, since its increasingly digitalized work is crucially concerned with the highly politicized question of immigrants’ legal status and gradual rights of citizenship (broadly understood), and thus about inclusion/exclusion, collective belonging and identity.

In the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF), they are currently not only developing new applications and system extensions, but also use new forms of work organisation such as methods of agile software development in which IT developers and bureaucrats work closely together. The central question is thus how bureaucratic sentiments are developed and transformed through new work contexts and techniques as well as how bureaucratic sentiments are inscribed in the developed technologies and disseminated within the agency.

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