The birth of biometric security.
Anthropology Today, 25 (2).
We are currently witnessing a rapid rise in biometric security. Borders are apparently becoming ‘smart’; passports are becoming e-passports, and when you set out on your travels your data double is already at your destination. Access to airports and even continents will increasingly be determined not by your national citizenship but by the security of your identity. Biometric security has received little anthropological attention despite historical associations with the discipline. Here I wish to outline a brief genealogy of biometric security in order to argue that, beyond the apparent newness of the technology, key biometric technologies owe their origins to 19th-entury deployments and then as now they may be understood as a form of bio-governmentality in which the security of identity opens possibilities for population control.
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