Prehistory of Aadhaar: Body, Law, and Technology as Postcolonial Assemblage

  title={Prehistory of Aadhaar: Body, Law, and Technology as Postcolonial Assemblage},
  author={Itty Abraham},
  journal={East Asian Science, Technology and Society: An International Journal},
  pages={377 - 392}
  • Itty Abraham
  • Published 2018
  • History
  • East Asian Science, Technology and Society: An International Journal
Abstract This article seeks to go beyond the binary of elite concerns over privacy versus subaltern desires for recognition to understand the huge Indian biometric project, Aadhaar. It offers a prehistory of Aadhaar, framed not in terms of rights and wrongs, important as they are, but as the most recent project in the shaping of modern social and political power through the technologically mediated intersection of the law and the body. Key moments of technopolitical reduction of the physical… Expand
India as database: Response to Reetika Khera
If sociology is ‘missing’ from the Aadhaar debate, to take Reetika Khera’s provocation seriously, the absence may reflect a disciplinary reluctance to accede to normative terms of contest in whichExpand
Tracing Biometric Assemblages in India’s Surveillance State: Reproducing Colonial Logics, Reifying Caste Purity, and Quelling Dissent Through Aadhaar
Part of the Asian Studies Commons, Civil Rights and Discrimination Commons, Disability Studies Commons, Ethnic Studies Commons, Gender and Sexuality Commons, Human Geography Commons, Models andExpand
Crafting “Integrity”: The Implications of Authentication through Unique Identification Databases
Supporters of Aadhaar, the unique identification scheme that aims to use biometric information and a 12-digit number to catalogue every Indian resident, have often commented on the tremendous amountExpand
Digital ID capitalism: how emerging economies are re-inventing digital capitalism
ABSTRACT This article adds to the literature on digital capitalisms by introducing a new state-led model called ‘digital ID capitalism’. Here, state agencies help guarantee personal data forExpand
From Open Data to “Grounded Openness”: Recursive Politics and Postcolonial Struggle in Hong Kong
This article maps the parameters of an emerging field of struggle around “openness” pertaining to digital data in the postcolonial smart city. Whereas colonial governance operated in relative secrecyExpand
The Imagination of Singapore’s Smart Nation as Digital Infrastructure: Rendering (Digital) Work Invisible
Abstract This article aims to understand contemporary forms of “digital work” and how this is imagined in visionary documents in the context of smart urbanism. Specifically, we argue for anExpand
Digital Infrastructure, Liminality, and World-Making Via Asia: The Infrastructural Politics of LiminalityIntroduction
Discussions of digital and smart infrastructures have often assumed ubiquitous, global connectivity and data-driven governance in ways that made the concept of liminality seem redundant. ContestingExpand
Introduction to the special section “Platforms, precarity, and entrepreneurship: Mobile communication in Asia”
The adoption of mobile technologies is changed, adjusted, and refracted by local culture. These technologies, we argue, reflect, and shape values and practices among users (Jasanoff and Kim 2015; W...


An eye for an I: recording biometrics and reconsidering identity in postcolonial India
In 2009, the Government of India embarked on a mission to issue each of India’s over one billion residents a unique biometric identification number, Aadhaar (literally, ‘foundation’). An AadhaarExpand
Citizenship and Its Discontents: An Indian History
This is the first ever history of the idea of citizenship in India. Unlike the mature democracies of the west, India began as a true republic of equals with a complex architecture of citizenshipExpand
Biometric Marginality UID and the Shaping of Homeless Identities in the City
policy and study the ways it is made available to people in their everyday life. In 2009, the Indian government adopted biometric registration (Unique Identifi cation Number, UID) as a magic bulletExpand
Subverting ID from Above and Below: The Uncertain Shaping of India's New Instrument of E-Governance
This article traces the contours of a new biometric project in India that aims to develop a universal biometric database for the unique identification of India’s residents (UID, The Indian UniqueExpand
Imprint of the Raj: How Fingerprinting was Born in Colonial India
A fascinating account of the invention of fingerprinting in colonial India and the story of how the technique was exported back to Victorian England. Opening with the first case in a British criminalExpand
Confessions of a Skull: Phrenology and Colonial Knowledge in Early Nineteenth-Century India
In the Medical School of the University of Edinburgh there is a room containing several hundred human skulls. Each with their own stand, double-stacked on the shelves of old wooden cabinets, they areExpand
The Location of Culture
Acknowledgements, Introduction: Locations of culture, 1. The commitment to theory, 2. Interrogating identity: Frantz Fanon and the postcolonial prerogative, 3. The other question: Stereotype,Expand
Legible Bodies: Race, Criminality and Colonialism in South Asia
Acknowledgements. List of Figures. 1. Introduction: convicts, colonialism and mass individuality. 2. Inscribing Criminality: penal tattooing and the Indian social body. 3. Ethnography, SurveillanceExpand
Biometric State: The Global Politics of Identification and Surveillance in South Africa, 1850 to the Present
Introduction: the global biometric arena 1. Science of empire: the South African origins and objects of Galtonian eugenics 2. Asiatic despotism: Edward Henry on the Witwatersrand 3. Gandhi'sExpand
Algorithms of Oppression: How Search Engines Reinforce Racism
Read and considered thoughtfully, Safiya Umoja Noble’s Algorithms of Oppression: How Search Engines Reinforce Racism is devastating. It reduces to rubble the notion that technology is neutral andExpand