Accepted paper:

Putting a face to data, doing race with data


Amade M'charek (University of Amsterdam)
Bobby Witte

Paper short abstract:

This paper discusses the convergence of surveillance and forensic technologies by attending to practice. It argues that the conflation of the aim of oversight in forensics (the individual), and that of surveillance, (the population), leads to the criminalization and racialization of population.

Paper long abstract:

This paper discusses the convergence between forensic and surveillance technologies. It argues that this convergence leads not only to the criminalization but also the racialization of particular groups of people. To show how in practice criminalization and racialization work together we will analyze an empirical case, a pilot aiming at aligning dactyloscopic data (fingerprints) and biometric photos. This pilot was prompted by incidences of so called identity fraud and aimed at proper administrative recording of the biometric identity of suspects and convicts. However the automated fingerprint databank does not only contain data about unsolved cases and convicts but also data about asylum seekers who are in no way connected to the criminal justice system. Detailing out the trajectory of the pilot, and connecting this to broader policy at the national and EU level about crime, identity fraud, surveillance of irregular migrants, we explore how diverse kinds of data is conjured up under the umbrella of crime solving, while reconfiguring categories of people. Our theoretical intervention is connected to the very use of photographical material and the ways it adds a phenotype to the data. Attending not simply to what the face comes to represent but especially to what a face can do, we explore the possibility of face to both individualize and collectivize.

panel T084
Technologies of Criminalization: On the convergence of forensic and surveillance technologies