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Week 5

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

Week 5

Identity, privacy and technology: DNA fingerprints, identity cards, and CCTV

This week, we will look at historical and contemporary technologies of identification, the contexts from which they emerged, and the ways in which the public and the state have reacted to them. As the technologies of identification change, do their effects change? Are DNA fingerprinting and CCTV really different from their historical antecedents? Why are our feelings about such new techniques so ambivalent? And do they really have the power and the specificity that we (and the popular media) attribute to them?

 

Seminar DEBATE: Security, suspicion, and the consumption of identification

What are the dangers of using DNA as a primary form of identification? What unintended consequences do we fear? Will our security – national or individual -- be increased by wider networks of surveillance, and larger databases of identification? And what happens when biometric identity and identification become commodities? Students should use the readings to prepare for an in-class debate about identity cards.

 

Required Reading:

  • Jon Agar, ‘Modern Horrors: British Identity and Identity Cards’ in Jane Caplan and John Torpey (eds), Documenting Individual Identity The Development of State Practices since the French Revolution (Princeton: PUP, 2001). See also/instead http://www.historyandpolicy.org/papers/policy-paper-33.html
  • Simon Cole, Suspect Identities: A History of Fingerprints and Criminal Identification (Cambridge, MA: Harvard, 2001) Epilogue and Chapters 10, 12
  • Amâde M’charek, ‘Technologies of Population: Forensic DNA Testing Practices and the Making of Differences and Similarities’, Configurations, 8 (2000): 121–158 Research Pro

 

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).

Simon A. Cole, ‘Witnessing Identification: Latent Fingerprinting Evidence and Expert Knowledge’, Social Studies of Science, Oct 1998; vol. 28: pp. 687-712

Arthur Daemmrich, ‘The Evidence Does Not Speak for Itself: Expert Witnesses and the Organization of DNA-Typing Companies’, Social Studies of Science, Oct 1998; vol. 28: pp. 741-772.

Peter Gill, Alec Jeffreys, David Werrett, ‘Forensic Application of DNA ‘Fingerprints’’ Nature, Vol 318, Dec. 1985: 577-579

Phillip Kerr, A Philosophical Investigation, (New York: Farrar Straus &Giroux, 1992)

D. M. Luebke and S MIlton, 'Locating the Victim: An overview of Census-taking, Tabulation Technology and Persecution in Nazi German', IEEE Annals of the History of Computing 16:3 (1994).

Michael Lynch, Sheila Jasanoff, ‘Contested Identities: Science, Law and Forensic Practice’, Social Studies of Science, Oct 1998; vol. 28: pp. 675-686.

David Lyon, ‘Under my skin: from Identification papers to body surveillance’ in Jane Caplan and John Torpey (eds), Documenting Individual Identity The Development of State Practices since the French Revolution (Princeton: PUP, 2001): 291-310.

Gary Marx, ‘What’s new about the ‘new surveillance’? Classifying for change and continuity’ in Sean Hier and Josh Greenberg, eds, The Surveillance Studies Reader (Maidenhead: Open University Press, 2007):83-94.

Dorothy Nelkin, M. Susan Lindee, “Chapter 8, Genetic Essentialism Applied”, in their The DNA Mystique: The Gene as a Cultural Icon (New York: W.H.Freeman and Co, 1995)

Pamela Sankar, ‘The proliferation and risks of government DNA databases’, American Journal of Public Health March 1997, Vol. 87, No. 3

Pamela Sankar, ‘DNA-Typing: Galton’s Eugenic Dream Realised?’ in Jane Caplan and John Torpey (eds), Documenting Individual Identity The Development of State Practices since the French Revolution (Princeton: PUP, 2001): 273-290.

Kevin Walby ‘How closed-circuit television surveillance organizes the social: an institutional ethnography’ in Sean Hier and Josh Greenberg, eds, The Surveillance Studies Reader (Maidenhead: Open University Press, 2007): 172-190.

Martin Weiner, Reconstructing the Criminal: Culture, Law and Policy in England, 1830-1914 (CUP. 1990).

New readings for paper writers

Edward Higgs, 'Fingerprints and Citizenship: The British State and the Identification of Pensioners in the Interwar Peroid', History Workshop Journal, Issue 69, Spring 2010, pp. 52-67 [ Project Muse]

Barbara Prainsack and Martin Kitzberger, ‘Other ways of knowing: Forensic DNA Technologies’ Social Studies of Science 39/1 (February 2009):51-79.

Ward Churchill, 'From the Pinkertons to the PATRIOT Act: The Trajectory of Political Policing in the United States, 1870 to the Present', CR: The New Centennial Review, Spring 2004; Vol. 4, No. 1, pp. 1-72. [ Project Muse]

Christian Parenti The Soft Cage: Surveillance in America, from Slave Passes to the Patriot Act (New York: Basic Books, 2003).