Accepted paper:

Travels and troubles of forensic genetic surveillance in the EU

Author:

Helena Machado (University of Minho)

Paper short abstract:

Criminalization of population through the exchange of DNA data among EU countries is witnessing unprecedented expansion. By adopting a multi-site ethnography, I explore the intersections between geopolitics, national identities and assumptions about criminal bodies and criminal conducts.

Paper long abstract:

Close links between DNA technologies and surveillance of suspect populations are witnessing unprecedented expansion. A striking example is the development of reciprocal automated exchange of DNA data among EU countries for the purpose of combating crime. DNA technologies, together with ICT systems, legislations and science criminalize the body in a set of social relationships. Technologies of criminalization may have varying meanings and effects in different national contexts. By adopting a multi-site ethnography anchored on interviews, participant observation and analysis of policy documents, I explore the transnational exchange of DNA data as a container of intersections between geopolitics, national identities and assumptions about criminal bodies and criminal conducts. The metaphor of travels and troubles will help me on three interrelated levels. Firstly, to map how DNA data travelling among countries feed the co-existence of controversies and more or less disputed issues, alongside the standardization and normalization of data comparison and data sharing. Secondly, to capture how DNA travel creates fractured and competing constellations of utopias and dystopias related to genetic surveillance, which re-articulate national identities and geopolitics. Thirdly, DNA travel implies softening disruptions and consensus building. For the criminal body to be legible in different countries, a common repertoire of material-technoscientific-cultural practices is needed, partly shaping social imaginaries about criminal bodies and criminal conducts. Present and future travels and troubles of forensic genetic surveillance in the EU bring together disruptive and consensual ontologies by which genetics and social order are co-produced as inextricably material-discursive.

panel T084
Technologies of Criminalization: On the convergence of forensic and surveillance technologies