Conference Presentation Title: Authentication trails of Body as evidence: What counts as a confirmation of what?
Author: Ranjit Singh
Panel: Techno-Utopias of Identification: Comparing and Situating the Fantasy in Aadhaar
Venue: 4th LASSnet International Conference in New Delhi, India
Date: 10 December, 2016
This paper traces body as evidence in the analysis of India’s biometrics-based identity project – Aadhaar. It will employ the heuristic of following the body of an Indian resident – specifically, the scans of fingerprints, iris, and a photograph of the face – as a circulating reference across the different modalities of the project’s implementation in India. As the project has slowly shifted from the enrollment phase into the authentication phase, the modalities of using Aadhaar numbers (current as well as imagined) present different stories of accountably rationalizing ‘what counts as a confirmation of what’ in the context of legal, technological, and bureaucratic entanglements of reinventing governance in India. The paper will draw on primary ethnographic material from my six-month long field research in India and secondary sources to unpack the sociotechnical imaginaries of ‘uniqueness of the body’ as the pivot for the ongoing transformations in Indian governmentality in which, on a macro scale, the attempt is to know the Indian resident as a ‘customer’.