Issue Introduction: IDentities and Identity: Biometric Technologies, Borders and Migration

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Biometric technologies that use digital representations of bodily phenomena to identify individuals have become an institutionalized method of registering and recognizing persons, thereby establishing their right to cross borders. Based on situated ethnographic fieldwork among tech-developers, border police, forensics, IT hacktivists and migrants, this special issue illuminates how biometric technologies are put to use and experienced by the diverse social actors who imagine and promote, develop, employ, are subjected to and attempt to circumvent such identification. In this introduction, biometric identification (or IDentification) is presented as a relatively new area of investigation that has been subjected to little ethnographic scrutiny. It is argued that, while biometric technologies are promoted as enabling objective and incontestable IDentification of individuals, they are in practice embedded in specific social contexts, fraught with ambiguity and uncertainty, and dependent on substantial human interpretation and social identification. They are therefore of considerable interest and concern to anthropology.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEthnos. Journal of Anthropology
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - 2021

ID: 237104513