25 June 2020

IDentities and Identity: Biometric Technologies, Borders and Migration

Associate Professor Kristina Grünenberg, Postdoc Perle Møhl, Professor Emeritus Karen Fog Olwig and Assistant Professor (tenure track) Anja Simonsen have contributed to ‘Ethnos. Journal of Anthropology’ with the special issue introduction ‘IDentities and Identity: Biometric Technologies, Borders and Migration’.

Biometric technologies using digital representations of bodily characteristics to identify individuals have become an institutionalised method of registering and recognising 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 the introduction biometric identification (or IDentification) is presented as a relatively new area of investigation that has been subjected to little ethnographic scrutiny. The authors argue 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.

Get access to the article here.