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Reading: Making Migrants Governable: Counting and defining the ‘illegal migrant’


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Special Issue Article

Making Migrants Governable: Counting and defining the ‘illegal migrant’


Helle Stenum

Roskilde University, DK
About Helle
Ph.D. Associate Professor
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This paper will investigate the production of knowledge regarding the number of illegalized migrants. Estimation of the number has been the common frame for production of this kind of knowledge, performed by social scientists, government officials, NGOs and others, but now biometric technology offers new perspectives on data, concepts and production of political numbers. Based on an analysis of various approaches to estimation of the number of irregular migration and an outline of biometric visions in the European Union on data production, the paper concludes that the changes caused by biometric technology will produce increased objectivity and depolitization in numbers of irregular migrants which could not be obtained in the field of estimation. The level of truth reflects the level of control and surveillance fixed as a strategy of government of mobility in the biometric technology.

How to Cite: Stenum, H., 2012. Making Migrants Governable: Counting and defining the ‘illegal migrant’. Nordic Journal of Migration Research, 2(4), pp.280–288. DOI:
Published on 01 Nov 2012.
Peer Reviewed


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