The dissertation Dissociating Society: Knowledge, Affect and Performativity in immigrant integration monitoring analyses a work of dissociation by investigating the performative practices and effects of immigrant integration monitoring. It shows how statistical knowledge production of those classified in one way or another as ‘immigrants’ and their so-called integration enacts a racialized imaginary of society. Through two focal points, narrating and affect, the dissertation demonstrates what is produced ‘between the walls’ of social scientific knowledge production that is intricately tied to population management by the state. It does so through a multi-sited ethnography of monitoring practices at various institutions and academic networks in four West European countries.
The chapters of the dissertation show and claim the making of difference-as-racialized distance in images of immigrant integration, the narration of perpetual arrival of ‘immigrant’ characters compared to those already in society, an imagination of ‘there’ on the basis of constantly questioning ‘where are you from?’, and the active presence of a societal gaze through which seeing is distributed in the professional field of monitoring immigrant integration. Two forms of affect, discomfort and anxiety, are analysed as performative in practices of immigrant integration monitoring, sustaining and reproducing a racialized imaginary of society. This is traced in difficulties in speaking that emerged from the inevitable paradoxes that make up the logics of monitoring immigrant integration. The community of practice does a lot of work to avert a reversal of figure and ground, specifically, by pushing the reference category representing society out of sight and placing ‘immigrants’ in the spotlight. This results in paradoxes analysed through the observations of speaking with a double voice, moments of stammering and slips of the tongue. Subsequently, the dissertation states that monitoring immigrant integration is a work of dissociation in which ‘society’ is moved away and purified from ‘others’ who are not good enough yet, not fitting in, on a distance, that is, those who are perpetually arriving.

Additional Metadata
Keywords Knowledge, Affect, Performativity, Society, immigrant integration monitoring, racialization
Promotor W. Schinkel (Willem) , R. van Reekum (Rogier)
Publisher Erasmus University Rotterdam
ISBN 978-94-028-1510-8
Persistent URL
Boersma, S. (2019, June 14). Dissociating Society : Knowledge, affect and performativity in immigrant integration monitoring. Erasmus University Rotterdam. Retrieved from