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Philippa Metcalfe

Research Fellow


Twitter: @philippamet


I am currently an ESRC Postdoctoral Research Fellow and joined PAIS in October 2023. My current project, Datafied borders as opaque immigration policy: Demystifying complex data infrastructures at the border”, explores disparate experiences of datafied and securitised borders, focusing on how both ongoing and historical developments impact the lived realities that illegalised travellers and people seeking asylum face in the UK and the EU today. The questions driving my research focus on the how datafication of borders transforms the ways in which bordering becomes operationalised, affecting how we think about borders as physical entities, as institutions, as spaces of security, risk, categorisation, and control, and as violence. I also seek to explore ways in which we can gain a wider understanding of complex border technologies which are often described as a ‘black box’, which has thus far limited the depth of community engagement and wider public scrutiny of their development.

Prior to this, I completed my PhD in 2022 as part of the ERC funded DATAJUSTICE project, based at the Data Justice Lab at Cardiff University, UK. For my doctoral thesis, I conducted empirical research in Greece and the UK, exploring how control, power, coloniality and violence becomes operationalised within the datafied border and asylum regimes of Europe. My research demonstrated how new technologies within datafied border and asylum regimes exhibit both exceptional and mundane forms of control and power, where technologies work to simultaneously occlude, invisibilise, and intensify border controls as they become embodied and enacted both at the physical border and across the everyday.


Metcalfe, P. Dencik, L., Chelioudakis, E., & van Eerd, B. (2023). Risking Lives: Smart Borders, Private Interests and AI Policy in Europe. Data Justice Lab. opens in a new window

Metcalfe, P. (2022) Autonomy of Migration and the Radical Imagination: Exploring Alternative Imaginaries within a Biometric Border, Geopolitics, 27:1, 47-69, DOI: 10.1080/14650045.2021.1917550

Metcalfe, P. (2022) ‘Hostile Data’, Migration and the City: Enacting and Resisting Spaces of Hostility in the UK, in Data Justice and the Right to the City, eds. Currie, M., Knox, J., and McGregor, C. Edinburgh University Press

Metcalfe, P. and Janson, F. (2022) The Facade of Datafication; The Real Harms of an Imagined World in Vertical Atlas, eds Dellanoce, l. Khalaf, A., Kuitenbrouwer, K., Nyabola, N., Roukens, R., Steiner, A. and You, M. Hivos’ Digital Earth and Het Nieuwe Instituut.

Metcalfe, P. & Dencik, L. (2019). The politics of big borders: Data (in)justice and the governance of refugees. First Monday. 24. 10.5210/fm.v24i4.9934. Dencik, L., Jansen, F. & Metcalfe, P. (2018). A conceptual framework for approaching social justice in an age of datafication.