Coronavirus (Covid-19): Latest updates and information
Skip to main content Skip to navigation

Week 3

Theme 1 Identity and identification: linking the self to the skin

Week 3

Myths and measurements: anthropometry

 

Fingerprinting was far from the only biometric system to be explored as a means of fixing identities to individuals. Anthropometry, in various forms, also emerged in the later 19th century. Although influenced by the exigencies of empire, anthropometry was more directly a response to population mobility and urbanization. Here we will explore the slightly different assumptions provoked by these origins, and embodied by anthropometric practices. What other purposes did anthropometry serve, and why was it superseded – at least until the post-9/11 period – by fingerprinting?

 

Seminar topic: Images, evidence, and interpretation

 

This seminar will function as an introduction to, and workshop on your media journals/SecondLife blogs. Please be sure that you have chosen your preferred mode of assessment and read all of the guidance notes at the back of our handbook. By the end of the session, you will need to choose which model you will follow over the course of the year. It will also introduce you to the wide range of historical and contemporary sources available to you online (and well beyond Wikipedia…)

 

Required Reading:

  • Simon Cole, Suspect Identities: A History of Fingerprints and Criminal Identification (Cambridge: Harvard, 2001) Prologue and Chapters 3, 5, 6

 

Background and Further Reading:

Jane Caplan and John Torpey (eds), Documenting Individual Identity The Development of State Practices since the French Revolution (Princeton: PUP, 2001).

Anne M. Joseph, ‘Anthropometry, the Police Expert, and the Deptford Murders: The Contested Introduction of Fingerprinting for the Identification of Criminals in Late Victorian and Edwardian Britain’, in Jane Caplan and John Torpey (eds), Documenting Individual Identity The Development of State Practices since the French Revolution (Princeton: PUP, 2001): 164-183.

Martine Kaluszynski, ‘Republican Identity: Bertillonage as Government Technique’, in Jane Caplan and John Torpey (eds), Documenting Individual Identity The Development of State Practices since the French Revolution (Princeton: PUP, 2001): 123-138.

Troy Duster, ‘The Molecular Reinscription of Race: Unanticipated Issues in Biotechnology and Forensic Science’. Patterns of Prejudice 40 (2006.): 427-441

New Readings:

Kim A. Wagner, 'Confessions of a Skull: Phrenology and Colonial Knowledge in Early Nineteenth-Century India', History Workshop Journal Issue 69 (Spring 2010): 27-51

Lucy Hartley. Physiognomy and the Meaning of Expression in Nineteenth-Century Culture (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Cambridge Studies in Nineteenth-Century Literature and Culture, 2001).

Miriam Claude Meijer. Race and Aesthetics in the Anthropology of Petrus Camper,1722-1789 (Amsterdam and Atlanta: Rodopi. Studies in the History of Ideas in the Low Countries, 1999).

Melissa Percival. The Appearance of Character: Physiognomy and Facial Expression in Eighteenth-Century France (London: W.S. Maney and Son, for the Modern Humanities Research Association, MHRA Texts and Dissertations, Vol. 47, 1999).

Josh Lauer, 'From Rumor to Written Record: Credit Reporting and the Invention of Financial Identity in Nineteenth-Century America', Technology and Culture, April 2008; Vol. 49, No. 2, pp. 301-324.

Martin S. Staum, 'Nature and Nurture in French Ethnography and Anthropology, 1859-1914', Journal of the History of Ideas, July 2004; Vol. 65, No. 3, pp. 475-495.