Ontologies enacting alterity

Image credit: Universität Bremen


Schemas, graphs and ontologies can enact social actors in politically sensitive ways. This is clearly revealed when such formal knowledge representations are used to establish intended identities of non-citizens. As part of the ERC-funded “Processing Citizenship” project, this paper presents the results of the semantic analysis of ontologies of information systems used to identify and register migrants in Europe. By launching the “hotspot approach” in 2015, the European Commission has identified the use of information systems as an important element to de facto achieve a joint migration policy and to gain knowledge on non-EU citizens. However, differences (and similarities) exist among members states’ systems, as well as between member states’ and Europe-wide systems. At European level this is especially relevant as information systems are undergoing major changes following several proposals to make them semantically interoperable, and make their data more usable for EU policy-making. How are migrants enacted by information systems designed for different purposes by different institutional actors? What consequences are entailed by their ongoing integration? Our paper will present how we extracted identity  ontologies from technical, design, legislative, and other types of documents. This allows us to process them using novel visualization methods, highlighting the otherwise less visible work of knowledge production. We introduce this novel method and the first results from our comparative analysis of the current operational information system at European level and from Greece. The results from this analysis will contribute to STS scholarship with a new method based on the empirical analysis of ontologies.

Sep 12, 2019 11:00 AM — 12:30 PM
University of Bremen, Germany