Accepted paper:

Translations and Extensions of DNA Analysis for Family Reunification


Anna-Maria Tapaninen (University of Eastern Finland)

Paper short abstract:

This paper discusses the deployment of DNA analysis in Finland. While the purpose of the procedure is to verify genetic relatedness between the alleged family members, the technology has varied potential for extending and translating the answers.

Paper long abstract:

Since 2000, the use of DNA analysis for family reunification has been a constant in Finland. It has been incorporated into legislation, carried out through centralized administrative and technological procedures, and quite routinely resorted to. DNA analysis is but one of the widespread technological tools in the increasingly restrictive immigration policies yet specific because it concerns relational identities. While the Aliens Act states that establishing family ties is the sole purpose of testing and that the samples and the data shall be destroyed, it is not clear what role it plays in decision-making. DNA analysis provides an answer that stands out because of its perceived precision and objectivity. The creation of the facts amounts to the creation of immutable mobiles (Latour 1986) within the complicated landscape of immigration that is permeated by doubt and strangeness. Yet, it is mobile also in terms of possible extensions and translations. Interpreting the details of genetic relatedness as proof of kinship ties is already a translation, but more than that, the results can be translated into proof of credibility and fraud. The background and the consequence of the quest for infallible truth is ubiquitous distrust of the applicants' claims. What are the purposes, consequences and possibilities of the deployment of scientific evidence for family reunification? How are the contingencies and results perceived by people on the move?

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