Why do I need a passport to travel? Why do I require so many passwords online? Why should I be fingerprinted to enter the USA? Should there be national DNA databases? Is my identity safe? Questions like these have multiplied in recent years, especially in the aftermath of the events of 9/11. New ways of identifying people on the move, buying goods and services, and preventing crimes have been developed in the UK as well as globally. Do these protect our rights, threaten our privacy, or make us safe?
Public debate on these complex global issues remains surprisingly ignorant of the history and ideas underpinning individual identification, registration, and pigeon-holing. We think of these techniques as modern – but the fact is that recognisable ID systems are almost as old as civilisation itself. This conference will bring the history, practices and likely future of identification technologies into sustained analytical focus. Invited speakers, chairs, and commentators from a wide variety of disciplinary backgrounds will attend to the conceptual and theoretical foundations of identification; exemplary national and system case studies; the comparative and transnational dimensions of identification technologies; and the implications of historical research for contemporary policy and practice. For a full programme and booking information, please see the conference webpage:
The deadline for registration is Tuesday 15 September 2009. The conference will showcase the research of ‘Documenting Individual Identity: Historical and Comparative Perspectives since 1500’, a network of academics based in the Faculty of History at the University of Oxford and generously funded by an International Networks grant from the Leverhulme Trust. Founded and convened by Professor Jane Caplan (University of Oxford) and Professor Edward Higgs (University of Essex), the Network is group of researchers from four continents, working to tell the story of individual identification within a long-term, international, and comparative framework. For a comprehensive overview of our activities, please see the Network website:
If you have any queries about the conference or the Network as a whole, please contact the Facilitator, Dr James Brown (email@example.com).
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