Matthias Wienroth, University of Northumbria; Nina Amelung, Universidade de Lisboa; Gabrielle Samuel, King's College London; Dana Wilson-Kovacs, University of Exeter;

Biometric data and data infrastructures are entangled in 'othering' processes: they contribute to social sorting of individuals and groups (e.g., in public health, travel, online banking, social care). While STS scholarship has partially explored this issue, less focus has been paid to the ecological processes of othering occurring as part of the production of biometric data infrastructures. We attend to this through the concept of 'social ecology'. Social ecology is concerned with the practices, relationships, and orders in humans' interactions with their social, natural, and built environments. Examples include: migration processes that require refuge seekers to engage with (in-)visible border environments (DNA / fingerprint data, migration policies, physical/natural features etc.); adverse environmental impacts associated with sociotechnical efforts behind biometric data infrastructures (emissions from cloud servers, rare mineral-mining, electronic and other waste products etc.); behavioural data use in 'learning health systems' that can exclude individuals from healthcare provision; and shifts of access to services via face or voice ID, leading to exclusion of those not well recognisable by such biometric infrastructures. All examples can lead to drastic othering effects contributing to marginalisation of people and their environments. This panel is an opportunity to engage with new thinking about biometric enactments of othering and the emergence of social ecologies of marginalisation. We encourage contributions on (1) complex entanglements of marginalisation and environmental considerations, (2) conceptual and/or empirical exploration of sociotechnical practices of 'othering' via biometric data and/or its infrastructures, and/or (3) developments of specific understandings of social ecologies of marginalisation. (ONLINE ONLY)


Keywords: (In)Security and STS, Genetics, Genomics, Biotechnology, Environmental/Multispecies Studies, Social Ecology; Marginalisation & Othering; Biometric Data & Infrastructures

Published: 04/07/2023