Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Liberal Studies


Ruth O'Brien

Subject Categories

Digital Humanities | Politics and Social Change | Science and Technology Studies | Social Control, Law, Crime, and Deviance


precarity, big data, neoliberalism, data analytics, extreme vetting


Who is a citizen? Who is a threat to public safety? Who is worthy of protection? What it means to be a valued body in the United States has been written into code, where the state and corporations have embraced an algorithmic approach to national security. Algorithms, previously praised for their neutrality, have been taking a neoliberal turn.

This thesis will examine how data is used by the state as a governance practice, specifically looking at how such practices have left certain communities more precarious and vulnerable than others. My aim is to show how the weaponization of data is the materialization of a white nationalist, neoliberal agenda that has changed the way we act and are controlled as subjects in a digital, democratic environment. In this thesis, I will analyze the President Trump’s executive order on extreme vetting, with a particular focus on the Department of Homeland Security’s request for information on data analytic services. I am interested in examining the precarity of a body when it is digitized and how that digital data can be used as a weapon in this larger project of governmentality via surveillance. I will lean on the theoretical frameworks of Judith Butler, Isabel Lorey, and Michel Foucault to demonstrate this neoliberal governmentality as well as to examine the formation of the subject based on these theorists. Additionally, I will also analyze how the state has used fear and constant crisis perpetuate precarity.