PhD candidate and university assistant Julia Malik has been awarded a Marietta Blau-Grant by the Austrian Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research (BMBWF). This scholarship supports her field research in Colombia for her doctoral project, ‘Classifying Citizens, Updating the State: How Practicing Digital Welfare Shapes Statehood in Colombia’.
The grant helps highly qualified PhD students to optimize their doctoral thesis through a long-term stay abroad. Thanks to the scholarship, Julia Malik is able to go to Colombia for twelve months to continue her fieldwork and connect with researchers at the Universidad del Rosario in Bogotá. This will significantly advance her PhD project dealing with the interplay of digitalization, welfare, and the state.
In her dissertation, Julia Malik focuses on a digital classification and information system used by the Colombian state to manage welfare, asking how practices and materialities of digitalized welfare form the state. During the scholarship stay, she will apply ethnographic research methods to explore how this digital welfare infrastructure is sociotechnically enacted in various ways. Further, she will investigate how technologies and practices around this digital welfare infrastructure configure the state, thus shaping bureaucracy, social policy, welfare delivery, and governmental knowledge. Moving beyond common assumptions about digitalization and the frequent focus on its consequences for citizens, Julia Malik attends to digitalization’s manifold, ambivalent, and unexpected effects and their intertwinements with non-digital processes. Conceptualizing digitalization as multiplicity produced through socio-material practices, her dissertation project enriches STS debates on the digitalization of the state.