Unravelling Bureaucratic Opacity: Frontex, Freedom of Information, and Struggles over Secrecy

FSW Lecture by prof. Ludek Stavinoha - East Anglia University - 12/12/2023, Aula M.002 Stadcampus (Gebouw Meerminne, Sint-Jacobstraat 2, 2000 Antwerp)

About the lecture

Drawing on a long-term collaboration with investigative journalists, this paper tells the story of the political controversy surrounding the PeDRA project - a Frontex-Europol programme for collecting and exchanging sensitive personal data of illegalised migrants. It critically reflects on Freedom of Information (FOI) requests as both a methodological tool for prying open the archives of opaque EU bureaucracies as well as a analytical vantage point for interrogating the intersections between secrecy, transparency, and the (il)legitimacy of the EU’s bordering apparatus. The paper argues that FOIs are central to the ‘epistemic struggles’ to render everyday bureaucratic irregularities and resulting border violence publicly visible and politically contestable.

About the speaker

Ludek Stavinoha is an Associate Professor in Media and International Development at East Anglia University. 

His teaching and research interests lie at the intersection of humanitarian communication, political sociology, and digital migration studies. 

There are two strands to his current research:

The first project is concerned with the politics of grassroots humanitarianism, migrant solidarity and border violence in Europe through ethnographic research in and around refugee camps in Greece: How have grassroots volunteers transformed the humanitarian landscape through everyday practices of care and solidarity in refugee camps? How do refugees exercise their political agency through everyday acts of resistance within camps and digital media spaces to contest the logic and language of their confinement?

The second strand of research focuses on the politics of transparency in EU governance and the use of Freedom of Information (FOI) requests as a unique research methodology to pry open the 'black box' of institutional deliberation and policy-making processes that often result in social harms. 

Practical information        

Date: 12 December 2023, 12 PM - 2 PM

Place: Aula M.002 (Gebouw Meerminne, Sint-Jacobstraat 2, 2000 Antwerp)

Participation is free, but online registration is mandatory 

Lunch will be provided

The live stream/recording can be accessed by anyone at the URL below: https://mediasite.uantwerpen.be/Mediasite/Channel/fa5d0e2de0604fafb0bf48716884ac5b5f/browse/null/oldest/null/0/null