Who Are We? – the new technologies of identity and belonging

Issues of identity and belonging are longstanding topics of considerable public concern, coming into particular focus in the light of widespread mass migration. This year we welcome Amade M’charek (University of Amsterdam) to discuss these issues at the Tema T Exchange on November 13. 

The Tema T Exchange is a high profile public event, held annually to address issues of public concern. We invite scholars of international renown to lead us in debate. Past years have featured Don Ihde, Thomas Hylland Eriksen, Annemarie Mol and Lucy Suchman. The occasion is designed to maximise productive exchange and debate, by asking our invitee not to give a set public lecture, but instead to respond to a series of questions and comments submitted by a panel of colleagues.

Identity and belonging

Issues of identity and belonging are the longstanding topic of considerable public concern. These concerns come into particular focus in the light of widespread mass migration. In recent years Sweden proportionally exercised one of the most generous immigration policies in Europe. Out of all European countries, Swedes are least concerned that one’s place of birth should determine national identity, but this view varies enormously according to individual political sympathies. So we face a series of difficult questions. Who belongs where? What are the origins and status of those seeking asylum? How to confirm the identities, the age and the origins of displaced people? In the light of mass flows of populations is national identity a useful marker of rights and entitlements?

Colonial histories and capitalist presents entangle us in such profound ways that what is deemed ‘other’ always simultaneously constitutes who ‘we’ are. At the same time, anti-immigrant politics mark some as ‘us’ in contrast to those set up as ‘them’. This is not just a matter of rhetoric, but seems to take place in bureaucratic procedures, and through the use of a whole range of new technologies: biomedicine, forensics, genetic markers, algorithms, statistical analyses and facial recognition technologies. So we need to examine in detail these technologies and practices of doing similarities and differences. Given the ongoing use of such technologies, it becomes clear that there is no single answer to the question ‘Who are we?’ In appreciating that identity and belonging are made rather than given, we instead need to address the question ‘How are we?’

Guest - Professor Amade M’charek

To discuss these issues with us we are delighted to welcome Professor Amade M’charek (University of Amsterdam) as our distinguished guest for the Tema T Exchange 2019.

Amade works in science and technology studies (STS), the anthropology of science and technology, and post-colonial science studies. She researches a wide variety of substantive areas including the ways in which race is connected to forensic identification, genetics, physical anthropology and archaeology. She is interested in the ways in which diversity is mediated and reproduced through genetics, biomedical practices, sexuality and gender.

Amade is Professor of Anthropology of Science at the University of Amsterdam. M’charek is the principle investigator of the ERC-consolidator RaceFaceID project, on face-making and race-making in forensic identification. She is finalizing the projects: Dutchness in Genes and Genealogy, and Sexuality & Diversity in the Making. She is also the convenor of the seminar series Ir/relevance of Race in Science and Society.

Read more about the Drowned Migrant Cemetery that she set up.

 

Time: Wednesday November 13, 2019 13.15-15.00 followed by a Reception
Place: Universitetsklubben, Campus Valla, Linköping University

The Exchange will also be live streamed on the Tema T Facebook page

 

Amade M’charek in Tunisia

See the documentary about her work in Tunisia (with English subtitles): 

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