Staff Publications

Staff Publications

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    'Staff publications' is the digital repository of Wageningen University & Research

    'Staff publications' contains references to publications authored by Wageningen University staff from 1976 onward.

    Publications authored by the staff of the Research Institutes are available from 1995 onwards.

    Full text documents are added when available. The database is updated daily and currently holds about 240,000 items, of which 72,000 in open access.

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Record number 541535
Title Securing Identities : Biometric Technologies and the Enactment of Human Bodily Differences
Author(s) Kloppenburg, Sanneke; Ploeg, Irma van der
Source Science as Culture (2018). - ISSN 0950-5431
Department(s) Environmental Policy
Publication type Refereed Article in a scientific journal
Publication year 2018
Keyword(s) Biometrics - border management - enactment - ethnicity - identity

Worldwide, biometrics are quickly becoming the preferred solution to a wide range of problems involving identity checking. Biometrics are claimed to provide more secure identification and verification, because ‘the body does not lie.’ Yet, every biometric check consists of a process with many intermediate steps, introducing contingency and choice on many levels. In addition, there are underlying normative assumptions regarding human bodies that affect the functioning of biometric systems in highly problematic ways. In recent social science studies, the failures of biometric systems have been interpreted as gendered and racialized biases. A more nuanced understanding of how biometrics and bodily differences intersect draws attention to how bodily differences are produced, used, and problematized during the research and design phases of biometric systems, as well as in their use. In technical engineering research, issues of biometrics’ performance and human differences are already transformed into R&D challenges in variously more and less problematic ways. In daily practices of border control, system operators engage in workarounds to make the technology work well with a wide range of users. This shows that claims about ‘inherent whiteness’ of biometrics should be adjusted: relationships between biometric technologies, gender and ethnicity are emergent, multiple and complex. Moreover, from the viewpoint of theorizing gender and ethnicity, biometrics’ difficulties in correctly recognising pre-defined categories of gender or ethnicity may be less significant than its involvement in producing and enacting (new) gender and ethnic classifications and identities.

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