1st Edition

Identification and Citizenship in Africa Biometrics, the Documentary State and Bureaucratic Writings of the Self

Edited By Séverine Awenengo Dalberto, Richard Banégas Copyright 2021
    392 Pages 15 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    392 Pages 15 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    In the context of a global biometric turn, this book investigates processes of legal identification in Africa ‘from below,’ asking what this means for the relationship between citizens and the state.

    Almost half of the population of the African continent is thought to lack a legal identity, and many states see biometric technology as a reliable and efficient solution to the problem. However, this book shows that biometrics, far from securing identities and avoiding fraud or political distrust, can even participate in reinforcing exclusion and polarizing debates on citizenship and national belonging. It highlights the social and political embedding of legal identities and the resilience of the documentary state. Drawing on empirical research conducted across 14 countries, the book documents the processes, practices, and meanings of legal identification in Africa from the 1950s right up to the biometric boom. Beyond the classic opposition between surveillance and recognition, it demonstrates how analysing the social uses of IDs and tools of identification can give a fresh account of the state at work, the practices of citizenship, and the role of bureaucracy in the writing of the self in African societies.

    This book will be of an important reference for students and scholars of African studies, politics, human security, and anthropology and the sociology of the state.

    Introduction: The Social Life of IDs in Contemporary Africa, Séverine Awenengo Dalberto & Richard Banégas

    Part 1. Biometric State versus Documentary State: Identification Technologies and Citizenship 

    1. "African Citizenships: A Biometric Turn?", Séverine Awenengo Dalberto, Richard Banégas & Armando Cutolo 

    2. "Documentary Government and Mathematical Identification. On the theoretical significance of African biometric government", Keith Breckenridge 

    3. "Legible Bodies and Lives. How a Biometric Registration Campaign Reinvented the Chadian Population", Marielle Debos 

    4. Testimonies and Social Markers in the Age of Biometrics. The Work of the Identity Control and Verification Commission in Chad, Kelma Manatouma 

    5. "Digitalized Paper Barriers. Identity Verifications and Exclusions of Immigrants Learners in Low Income High-Schools of Johannesburg", Jeanne Bouyat 

    6. "The Malian refugee card in Burkina Faso" Nora Bardelli 

    7. "The Republic and its Double. Forgery, Inequalities and State Morality in Cameroon", Marie-Emmanuelle Pommerolle 

    8. "General Amnesty for All ‘René Caillés’! Falsifying Birth Certificates and Reforming Legal Identification in Côte d’Ivoire", Richard Banégas & Armando Cutolo & Souleymane Kouyaté  

    Part 2. Identity, Citizenship and the Politics of Inclusion and Exclusion 

    9. The French West African Identity Card in Senegal. The Challenges and Meanings of Legal Identification in the Era of Imperial Citizenship (1946-1960), Séverine Awenengo Dalberto 

    10. " A Kipande for Ugandans?The Aborted 1947 ‘Identity Card for Africans’" Sandrine Perrot 11. "Papers to Ward Off the Threat. Identity Cards, Documentary Uncertainty, and Genocide in Rwanda", Florent Piton 

    12. "Rwanda: Identity Papers under Belgian Colonial Occupation", Léon Saur 

    13. "Kenya’s Ethnic Somalis and Access to Identity Papers. Citizenship and Nation-Building in North-East Kenya", Hervé Maupeu 

    14. "Bureaucracy and the Politics of Identification in Nigeria. Issuing Certificates of Indigene and Investigating Citizens’ Ancestral Origins", Laurent Fourchard 

    15. "‘Hands Off My Citizenship!’ Biometrics and its Politics in Mauritania", Zekeria Ould Ahmed Salem

    16. "What State is There for Those ‘Without Paper or Pencil’? A Case Study of Women and Identification in North Cameroon, Claude Mbowou 

    Part 3. Bureaucratic Writing of the Self: Political Subjectivities and the Social Production of Papers 

    17. "Disputing Parenthood at the Civil Registry in Côte d’Ivoire in the 1960s", Louise Barré 

    18. "Bureaucratic Interpersonal Knowledge. Village Identity Papers and the Production of Moral Homelands in Uganda", Florence Brisset-Foucault 

    19. "Negotiating Indigenousness. Citizenship and the Struggle for Papers of the Maragoli Community in Uganda", Sandrine Perrot & Gerald Owachi 

    20. "Bureaucratizing Self-Defence and Reframing Identities. The Case of Koglweogo in Burkina Faso", Romane Da Cunha Dupuy 

    21. "‘Here is My Evidence’. The Documented Path of a Woman Ex-Combatant from Côte d’Ivoire", Kamina Diallo  22. "Faith Papers. Transnational Mobility, Christian Networks, and Citizenship in Morocco and Senegal", Johara Berriane 

    23. "A Driver and his Licence in Senegal. Professional Ethos and Documentary Imaginary", Sidy Cissokho 

    24. "Inanimate Politics. Identifying ‘Lifeless and Undocumented Migrants’ in Guinea and Morocco", Alimou Diallo 

    25. Postface : "The Identificatory City in Sub-Saharan Africa", Jean-François Bayart


    Séverine Awenengo Dalberto is a CNRS Researcher at the Institut des mondes africains (IMAF), France. Richard Banégas is a Professor at Center for International Studies (CERI), Sciences Po, France.