The digitalization of migration and borders in Africa

Le Jeudi POMAF is a public space for inquiry and open discussion about migration policies in Africa.

Thursday 30th November 2023, 14.00-15.30 (CET time)


Hassan Ould Moctar, London School of Economics (LSE)

Digital Resource Frontiers and Border Externalisation in Mauritania

Moderator: Alice Fill


Digital Resource Frontiers and Border Externalisation in Mauritania

As European Union (EU) migration priorities extend ever farther beyond the EU external border, scholarship has increasingly theorised this externalisation process from the perspective of non-EU countries. In doing so, it often highlights the manipulation and appropriation of migration control priorities by non-EU state actors as evidence of a non-Eurocentric and/or postcolonial perspective on externalisation. Drawing upon qualitative fieldwork carried out in Mauritania, this paper engages these perspectives through an examination of the relationship between the externalisation process and a biometric overhaul of the Mauritanian civil registry system. While the rolling out of the biometric civil registry system broke with the desires of certain EU actors in Mauritania, it also opened up a new technological resource frontier to the European security industry. As a Mauritanian state-financed initiative which prised open new terrains of digital accumulation to European capital, this biometric component of externalisation in Mauritania highlights how non-EU state agency can manipulate and appropriate externalisation technologies, while also reproducing broader neo-colonial uneven development dynamics between Europe and Africa.


Dr Hassan Ould Moctar is a writer and researcher interested in the relationship between migration, borders, and development processes, with a regional focus on Mauritania, the West African Sahel, and the Sahara. He holds a PhD from the Development Studies Department at SOAS, University of London, and has held fellowships in SOAS and the London School of Economics. His work has been published in academic journals such as Environment and Planning: D,  Geoforum, and Anthropologie et Développement, as well as in media outlets such as Al-Jazeera, Open Democracy, and Jadaliyya. His monograph, After Externalization: Migration, Race, and Labour in Mauritania is forthcoming with Bloomsbury Publishers.

Séminaire sur l'étude des politiques migratoires africaines

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