On Being Enregistered into the Matrix of Online Knowledge: An Ethnographic Exploration of an Internet-based Dismissal in an Asylum-seeking Procedure

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterScientificpeer-review


Linguistic ethnographic studies dealing with the so-called ‘long interview’ taking place between asylum-seeking applicants and host country officials have been led to powerful notions like trans-idioma (Jacquemet, 2005; 2013) and, more broadly, to uncover the normalcy that veils narrative inequality (Blommaert, 2005). In a nutshell, these studies showed this interview to be a moment of meaning-making synchronised and crystallised in the moment to moment unfolding of verbal, written and pictographic interactions between institutional figures and asylum-seeking applicants in a given power-saturated environment (Blommaert, 2009). The point, back then, was that whenever human beings communicate, they deploy a range of semiotic resources such as topics, chronology, toponymy, languages and their varieties, pictograms and accents, all of which are part and parcel of a much larger process of institutional enregisterment (Agha, 2003) into ‘ergoic’ discourses of identification and authenticity. One of the resources that had been neglected back then, mainly due to the paucity of its use in institutional encounters, was the internet and with that the resources that this infrastructure of globalisation brings into play (Spotti, 2015). Against this background, the present contribution wishes to explore the process of institutional enregisterment of the story narrated by an asylum-seeking applicant and the identity (mis)recognition that derives from it through internet-based knowledge. In so doing, the contribution advances considerations on how, in power-saturated communicative events of this kind, the knowledge held by a migrating subject is enregistered into an administrative prescriptive matrix of what someone should say, what someone should know and – within that – how someone should name things in order to give proofs of identity and gain legal mobility. Yet again, these proofs now ought to bridge the gap between the offline local knowledge of the applicant and the online support lent to institutional figures by internet-based knowledge.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationExploring (Im)mobilities
Subtitle of host publicationLanguage Practices, Discourses and Imaginaries
EditorsAnna Da Fina, Gerardo Mazzaferro
Place of PublicationClevedon
PublisherMultilingual Matters
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9781788925303, De Fina , Mazzaferro
ISBN (Print)9781788925280
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2021

Publication series



Dive into the research topics of 'On Being Enregistered into the Matrix of Online Knowledge: An Ethnographic Exploration of an Internet-based Dismissal in an Asylum-seeking Procedure'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this