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Biometric State: The Global Politics of Identification and Surveillance in South Africa, 1850 to the Present

Biometric State: The Global Politics of Identification and Surveillance in South Africa, 1850 to the Present

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Keith Breckenridge
Cambridge University Press
Edition: Illustrated, 10/2/2014
EAN 9781107077843, ISBN10: 1107077842

Hardcover, 266 pages, 22.9 x 15.2 x 1.6 cm
Language: English

Biometric identification and registration systems are being proposed by governments and businesses across the world. Surprisingly they are under most rapid, and systematic, development in countries in Africa and Asia. In this groundbreaking book, Keith Breckenridge traces how the origins of the systems being developed in places like India, Mexico, Nigeria and Ghana can be found in a century-long history of biometric government in South Africa, with the South African experience of centralized fingerprint identification unparalleled in its chronological depth and demographic scope. He shows how empire, and particularly the triangular relationship between India, the Witwatersrand and Britain, established the special South African obsession with biometric government, and shaped the international politics that developed around it for the length of the twentieth century. He also examines the political effects of biometric registration systems, revealing their consequences for the basic workings of the institutions of democracy and authoritarianism.

Introduction
the global biometric arena
1. Science of empire
the South African origins and objects of Galtonian eugenics
2. Asiatic despotism
Edward Henry on the Witwatersrand
3. Gandhi's biometric entanglement
fingerprints, Satyagraha and the global politics of Hind Swaraj
4. No will to know
biometric registration and the limited curiosity of the gatekeeper state
5. Verwoerd's bureau of proof
the Apartheid Bewysburo and the end of documentary government
6. Galtonian reversal
apartheid and the making of biometric citizenship
Epilogue
empire and the mimetic fantasy
Conclusion
Bibliography
Index.