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Identifying the ‘Other’: imperial fingerprints and anthropometry HI269 Week 15.

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Presentation on theme: "Identifying the ‘Other’: imperial fingerprints and anthropometry HI269 Week 15."— Presentation transcript:

1 Identifying the ‘Other’: imperial fingerprints and anthropometry HI269 Week 15

2 Establishing identity before the fingerprint Modes of Identification Personal Recognition Signature Certification by recognized authority/individual (e.g. passaport, laissez-passe documents, emergent c. 1450s- 1590s) Branding (for criminals – abandoned post 1832) ‘Identifying marks’ (eg ‘Register of Distinctive Marks’) Photography Registers (eg Alphabetical register of Habitual Criminals, UK 1869; Bertillonage-based ‘portrait parle’ registers from ) But none of these techniques were reliable; see Martin Guerre, 1871 Tichborne Claimant, 1895 Adolf Beck case

3 Who do we think you are?

4 Personal Library Books Public Library Records Drivers Licenses Union Cards Hunting/Fishing Licenses Hotel Registration Cards Deposit & Withdrawal Slips Safety Deposit Access Records Promissory Notes Rental & Lease Forms Automobile Registrations Insurance Forms Broker's Records Deeds & Land Titles Powers of Attorney Credit Cards Invoices Receipts& Delivery Signatures Marriage Certificate & License Report Card Signatures School Records Identification Cards Membership Cards Cancelled Checks Federal & Provincial Tax Returns Business & Employment Records Bookkeeping Records Bond/Surety Applications Divorce Papers Court Records Registration Forms Personal Attendance Records Building Permits, Applications & Licenses Passports Domestic & Foreign Licenses Sign-In Sheets Social Insurance Card Hospital Records Incorporation Documents Mail Order Forms Loan Application Forms Credit Application Forms Mortgage Applications Mortgage Guarantees Signatures as legal identifier, witness to contractual relationship: where do(n’t) we sign?

5 Segregating the ‘criminal race’ The context: increasing fear of the ‘recidivist criminal’ – and the radicalised poor. The problem: how to identify this mobile, urban and wily population?

6 Bertillonage as a surveillance system: Key Features Use of standardization for: Measurements taken, Mode of measuring Mode of notation Mode of filing and accessing results Ability to locate and SHARE results: ‘portait parlé Abbreviations designed for use with telegraphy

7 Anthropometry and Empire As a mode of knowing and understanding subject populations, their needs, and their peculiarities As a mode of identifying and thus controlling ‘homogenous’ and unrecognizable subject individuals

8 Anthropometry and Empire Empire/colonies as a test bed for practices later deployed in Europe Broader societal interest in wake of Darwin and with rise of ‘social Darwinism’ and eugenics

9 Anthropometry and Empire Increase in interest following ‘Sepoy Mutiny’ of 1857 “such a survey will be a help to good government… instead of being a mere scientific luxury, as it might be in Europe, it was almost an administrative necessity in Bengal” Risley, 1891

10 Chronology of fingerprint identification Part 1: India 1857 ‘Sepoy Mutiny’ 1858 William James Herschel demands handprint as confirmatory ‘signature’ for a contract with an Indian 1860 Indigo uprisings; Herschel suggests fingerprints as contractual signature for illiterate peasants and later planters 1877 Herschel is able to institute fingerprinting for pensioners, deed registrations, prisoners 1878 Faulds too notices fingerprints in Japan and begins collecting information BUT: Govt of India did not adopt the practice and it had died out by 1890s Edward Henry, IG Bengal Police introduces integrated anthropometry and fingerprinting (women excluded) 1893 Herschel’s registry fingerprinting system reintroduced in Bengal for contracts, later pensions, postal orders, etc 1897 dissatisfied with anthropometry Henry devises system for classifying fingerprints

11 Controlling India, identifying Indians Desperate administrative need for conclusive forms of identification in relation to: –Taxes –Property ownership –Business contracts –Pension rights Conviction that all Indians were inherently deceptive, whether for gain, or from a desire to please – and therefore indigenous testimony was totally untrustworthy

12 Identity for Empire Finger prints were regarded as especial value in ‘identifying persons of other races…’ Thus they were perfect for the colonies, where: ‘The natives are mostly unable to sign; their features are not readily distinguished by Europeans; and in too many cases they are characterised by a strange amount of litigiousness, wiliness and unveracity.’ Galton, 1892

13 Chronology Part 2: Britain 1880s Faulds enlists Darwin, and is put in touch with Galton; publishes in Nature Faulds in touch with Scotland Yard promoting use of fingerprints in criminal forensics 1888 Galton and Herschel begin correspondence about fingerprints 1892 Galton publishes Fingerprints, British Assoc for Advancement of Science calls for a better system of identifying criminals (though it had Bertillonage in mind) 1894 Troup Committee supports use of fingerprints in theory, but classification too difficult; they go with Bertillon.print combo 1900 Belper Committee: Fingerprints ‘absolute impressions taken from the body itself’; recommends trial of ‘the Indian system’ 1902 First use of fingerprints as trial evidence in UK (Harry Jackson trial) 1902 By end of year, 1722 criminals identified by fingerprints 1909 Fingerprints ruled as acceptable proof of identity even in isolation – without need for personal recognition of their bearer!

14 Systems of Surveillance and national identities “ In Paris, every person arrested for any offence is at once subjected to the process of measurement and is sometimes photographed before being brought before any magistrate. It would not be consistent with English ideas to entrust to the police an arbitrary power of measuring or photographing every person arrested without authority from a magistrate and without regard to the necessity for the purposes of justice of discovering his antecedents and character.’ Troup Committee, 1893

15 Systems of Surveillance and national identities “ In every country of Europe, I believe, even in countries like France and Italy living under democratic institutions, surveillance of a far more rigorous character [than in England] is permitted by the law” Northern India magistrate, circa 1893

16 Bertillonage in action, NYC

17 Chronology Part 3: USA 1924 FBI founded as Identification Division of the Justice Department’s Bureau of Invesitgation, under John Edgar Hoover. Hoover immediately promotes idea of ‘domestic surveillance’ of all, not just known criminals All federal employees fingerprinted 1932 Lindberg Baby kidnapping: children recognised as group potentially benefited by fingerprinting 1935 Social Security Act (assigning unique number for each citizen as condition of receiving benefits): NO FINGERPRINTS solicited or taken. WHY NOT? 1936 Public drives and ‘education’ promoting voluntary fingerprinting for all; ACLU and public opposition 1937 Civilian Conservation Corps fingerprinted 1939 All WPA employees printed 1940 Alien Registration Act: fingerprinting and registration of all immigrants 14 or older 1943 Citizens Identification Act FAILS on right to privacy grounds

18 Fingerprinting and technology How have technologies made the biometrics of identification and surveillance possible? 1879 Bertillon invents workable filing system for his data 1897 Henry creates categorization and filing system for fingerprints 1919 Modus Operandi punch card system and sorting machine created for California 1924 IBM founded, based on better card sorting technologies 1934 FBI gets IBM card sorter (still can’t handle the volume of data produced by Soc Sec Act a year later) 1937 IBM horizotal card sorter can sort 420 cars per minute 1963 Grid classification system introduced for optical recognition of prints; automated print id system project initiated by FBI and Nat’l Bureau of Standards 1972 FBI installs first automated scanning system and begins scanning in old files – by 1980, 14.3 million entered 1979 Automated searches begin; candidates thus discovered still finally matched by a human from candidate pool – still done today Late 1970s AFIS (automated fingerprint identification system: DIGITAL) first marketed (cost: circa $2-10 million) 1986: AFIS- type digital systems become standard – but which one? Still trying to create a single standard, even today OJ Simpson trial draws public attention to ‘DNA fingerprinting’

19 Seminar Questions on Sengoopta Why were fingerprints used for civil and criminal matters in India, but only for criminal identification (and a handful of expelled Aliens) in England? What changes have allowed the introduction of fingerprinting for all asylum seekers under the Asylum and Immigrations Appeals Act of 1993? And the suggestion of biometric ‘smart cards’ for all benefit recipients (inc NHS)?

20 Great Websites to explore dex.htmlhttp://ctl.ncsc.dni.us/biomet%20web/BMIn dex.html tion/views.htmlhttp://www.nlm.nih.gov/visibleproofs/exhibi tion/views.html

21 First DNA fingerprint case Alec Jeffries and the Pitchfork murder case Jeffries works on technique to use RFLPs (restriction fragment length polymorphisms: highly individually variable isolated sections of DNA) to identify individuals Jeffries’ technique called in for Pitchfork case; rules out prime suspect. But how was the murdered caught – DNA evidence? No: he gave himself away when he asked a friend to give him a substitute blood sample… What does this tell us about public perceptions of forensic science, DNA etc?


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