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Who's Who?: The Biometric Future and the Politics of Identity

NCJ Number
European Journal of Criminology Volume: 6 Issue: 2 Dated: March 209 Pages: 135-155
Daniel Neyland
Date Published
March 2009
21 pages
This article examines the politics of identity and the future of biometric identification.
There has been a significant social history of branding the body or constituting features of the body as a means to categorize, specify, and segregate populations along lines of claimed identity. In recent years, technological developments and advances in the techniques of biometrics have led to claims regarding the increasing ease of identity constitution, identity corroboration, and identity mobilization. In the United Kingdom, these advances have resulted in political debate surrounding the possible introduction of national identity cards. This article engages empirically with the futures of biometric identification; it engages with the current United Kingdom political debate regarding the introduction of identity cards, by participating in a trial of biometric technologies and working with an organizational setting where ID cards would be introduced, such as an airport. This article utilizes data from an ongoing study of technology and identity featuring biometrics to ask several questions, and uses these questions to engage with the global politics of identity envisaged in claims regarding the future of biometric technologies. The article addresses these questions through, first, introducing theoretical and methodological sensibilities [that technology does not in itself create a single, straightforward, predictable effect, that identity production and mobilization is complex, and that technologies are congealed social-political relations] through which the biometric future and politics of identity can be considered. Second, it will analyze particular argumentative movements toward biometric cards in technology trials and airports. Lastly, it will provide suggestions on the ways in which social science can engage with the politics of identity. References


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