Springe direkt zu Inhalt

Dr. Timm Sureau

Image Credit: Miriam Klingl

Martin-Luther-Universität Halle/Wittenberg

Institute for Social and Cultural Anthropology


Reichardtstraße 11
Room 301
06114 Halle (Saale)

Timm Sureau is a post-doc at the Law and Anthropology Department of the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology in Halle and the Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg. Timm Sureau has been doing research since 2006, first in Sudan, then in South Sudan, and now in Germany. His first research focused on political narratives of marginalization in northern Sudan, highlighting the dissonance between the media discourse, personal and family experiences. For his PhD, he examined state formation processes in South Sudan from an anthropological viewpoint, allowing him to enquire into the mechanisms of legitimation and negotiation in state formation. The low degree of institutionalization with its low barriers of access during the emergence of South Sudanese statehood allowed him to analyze the scope and influence of manifold individual and collective actors. More recently, he concentrates on the digital processes by which state stability and legitimation is supported, and how knowledge, ‘truth’ and evidence are shaped through the control of information flow.

He received his magister’s degree in Social Anthropology, Human Geography and Computer Science from the Free University of Berlin in 2010, and defended his dissertation in 2017 at the Martin-Luther-University Halle-Wittenberg. He then coordinated the International Max Planck Research School on Retaliation, Mediation and Punishment from 2017-2019, and in 2019, he joined the SFB 1171 Affective Societies in the project “Sentiments of Bureaucracies: Affective Dynamics in the Digital Transformation of German Immigration Management”. Therein he focusses on the digitalization and its multiple consequences of the German migration management.

An Ethnography of Programming: Migration management and the digitalization of legal-bureaucratic processes in Germany

In the context of the research project “Sentiments of Bureaucracies: Affective Dynamics in the Digital Transformation of German Immigration Management”, I will ethnographically trace how German   administrative bodies that manage migration are digititalizing their tasks and workflow procedures. We understand such administrative programs similar to infrastructure, which undergoes a process of black boxing, and can best be analyzed while breaking and while being constructed or programmed. And this process of infrastructuring is happening right now. It is thus a unique moment to look at the intricacies at the intersection of demands for efficiency on the one hand, and for due process and procedural justice within bureaucracies on the other. in the field of migration management, administrative agencies are at the forefront of digitalization and are under much public scrutiny, since its increasingly digitalized work is crucially concerned with the highly politicized question of immigrants’ legal status and gradual rights of citizenship (broadly understood), and thus about inclusion/exclusion, collective belonging and identity.

In the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF), they are currently not only developing new applications and system extensions, but also use new forms of work organisation such as methods of agile software development in which IT developers and bureaucrats work closely together. The central question is thus how bureaucratic sentiments are developed and transformed through new work contexts and techniques as well as how bureaucratic sentiments are inscribed in the developed technologies and disseminated within the agency.

  • 2023, forthcoming: “The Federal Portal: Affective and Corporate Entanglements in Digital Administrative Publics” In Affective Formation of Publics – Places, Networks, and Media, ed. Margreth Lünenborg, Birgitt Röttger-Rössler. Routledge, [co-authored with Thomas Götzelmann]
  • 2023, forthcoming: Digital Infrastructuring as Institutional Affect(ing) in German Migration Management. In: Affect, Power, Institutions, ed. Millicent Churcher, Sandra Calkins, Jan Slaby ans Jandra Boettger. Oxford, New York: Routledge, [co-authored with Thomas Götzelmann]
  • 2021: „What makes a revolution ‚real‘? A discussion on social media and al-thawra ثورة in Sudan“. In: Rottenburg, Richard et al. [eds.] Digital Imaginaries: Africas in Production. Kerber Verlag. [co-edited with Siri Lamoureaux, Enrico Ille and Amal Fadlalla].
  • 2021: „“Was macht eine Revolution ,echt’? eine Diskussion über Social Media und die Al-Thawra ثورة im Sudan“. In: Rottenburg, Richard et al. [Hrsg.] Digital Imaginaries: afrikanische Positionen jenseits des Binären. Kerber Verlag. [co-authored with Siri Lamoureaux, Enrico Ille and Amal Fadlalla].
  • 2019: „Unruly techno-irrational ontologies: artificial intelligences“. In: Park/Rottenburg [eds.]: Mattering Press.
  • 2019. „Роковое Будущее При Сохранении Прошлого: Эпохальные Надежды При Получении Независимости Южным Суданом (Fateful Futures in the Presence of the Past: Epochalist Hopes at South Sudan’s Independence)“. In: Ученые Записки Института Африки Ран 2 (47): 68–85. https://doi.org/10.31132/2412-5717-2019-47-2-68-85
  • 2019. “The Last Bullet”: South Sudan’s emerging state.
  • 2019: Understanding Retaliation, Mediation and Punishment: Collected Results. 250. ed. Bd. XXV. XXV Bde. Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology Department ‘Integration and conflict’ field notes and research Projects. Halle (Saale): Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology. [co-edited with Yelva Auge].
  • 2018: Punishment: Negotiating Society. Berghahn. [co-edited with Filip Vojta].
  • 2018: „Knowledge and legitimacy: the fragility of digital mobilisation in Sudan“. In: Journal of Eastern African Studies 0 (0): 1–19. [co-edited with Siri Lamoureaux]. https://doi.org/10.1080/17531055.2018.1547249
  • 2015: „Introduction: Peace and constitution making in emerging South Sudan on and beyond the negotiation tables“. In: Journal of Eastern African Studies 9 (4): 612–33. [co-edited with Katrin Seidel]. https://doi.org/10.1080/17531055.2015.1105438.
  • 2015. „How DDR Shifted Its Face in South Sudan“. In: Calkins, Sandra, Enrico Ille und Richard Rottenburg [eds.]: Emerging Orders in the Sudans. Mankon, Bamenda: Langaa Research & Publishing CIG: 271–294.
  • 2013: „New forms of exclusion in Torit: Contestation over urban land“. In Gravert, Elke [eds.]: Forging Two Nations: Insights on Sudan and South Sudan Addis Ababa, Ethiopia: OSSREA: 143–159.
  • 2010: „‚Main Roads’, ‚Rote Linien’ und ‚süße’ Reden - Politische Diskurse und Perspektiven auf den Nord-Süd-Konflikt im Sudan unter Studenten der Universität Khartum“. Berlin: Freie Universität Berlin.