Large research grant for anthropological research in biometric technologies – University of Copenhagen

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25 October 2015

Large research grant for anthropological research in biometric technologies

The VELUX Foundation has granted 5,8 million DKK to a new research project, supervised by Professor Karen Fog Olwig, which will investigate biometric technologies such as finger-prints and iris scans and how these “objective” technologies actually form part of specific social, cultural and political contexts

Recent years have seen increasing use of biometric technologies to track the movements of migrants and refugees and register their identities. As global voluntary and involuntary (refuge) migration continues to rise, there have been large investments in the development of biometric security measures and border control techniques. Technology developers and stakeholders often portray biometric technologies as objective, however, the technologies are, in fact embedded in specific societal contexts.

A new large scale research project at the Department of Anthropology will examine these contexts and investigate how these new technologies come into being. The project will focus on their social and political significance, the assumptions attached to their use as well as the identities, practices and relations that they enable and/or disable. The project is not only highly topical, it offers an important contribution to research on migration, identity, subjectivity and social relations, as well as an ethnographically grounded contribution to studies of surveillance and technology.

The project ”Biometric Border Worlds: Technologies, bodies and identities on the move” has been granted 5,8 million DKK from the VELUX Foundations sub-fund for research in the humanities. It is the first time the Department of Anthropology receives this prestigious funding.

The project will begin 1 July 2016 and will run till 31 December 2018. A part from Professor Karen Fog Olwig who will act as primary investigator, External Lecturer Kristina Grünenberg, Research Assistant Perle Møhl and Phd fellow Anja Simonsen are also associated with the project.