Martina Tazzioli

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Extractive humanitarianism:

Participatory detention and asylum seekers’ unpaid labour

Martina Tazzioli (Lecturer in Politics and Technology, Goldsmith University)



2021 NECS Online Lecture (3/5)

The Lecture will take place on Zoom, on March 25, 2021, at 18:00 CET (

In order to join the Zoom Session, please register using the following form: [link to the form].


This presentation interrogates the political economy of labour and the modes of value extraction which are at play in refugee governmentality. It advances the notion of “extractive humanitarianism” to designate the central role played by data extraction and knowledge extraction operations in refugee governmentality. The talk focuses on Cash Assistance Programme for asylum seekers to data extraction activities in refugee camps in Greece, and explores the labour economies at stake there. It proposes to complement migration studies literature on labour and critical security studies works on digital technologies with feminist political theories on unpaid labour. It moves on by analysing multiple data extraction processes which are at stake in refugee humanitarianism. The second part focuses on knowledge extraction operations and on the unpaid labour that asylum seekers are nudged to do in refugee camps and hotspots in the name of their own good. In so doing, it argues, asylum seekers are asked to participate to their own confinement, that is to mechanisms of “participatory detention”. I will conclude by speaking about the invisible labour that humanitarian actors need to do in order to keep digital infrastructures up to date.


Martina Tazzioli is Lecturer in Politics and Technology at Goldsmith University.


The recordings will be available under request by sending an email to graduates[at]