Raj Konai’s Hand: The First Biometric Identity?

e43f4780a2fc991162bdbf3b2661bdfee1faac7fFrom an exhibition by Raqs Media Collective at London’s Frith Street Gallery, which puts forth that modern biometric identification was invented by a British colonial official in 1858:

Untold Intimacy of Digits is an facsimile of the handprint of a Bengal Peasant, Raj Konai. The handprint was taken under the orders of William Herschel – scientist, statistician and at the time a revenue official with the Bengal government.

It is one of the earliest impressions of the human body taken by a person in power with the explicit purpose of using the trace to identify and verify a human subject.

It was taken in lieu of a signature, to affix the identity of Konai to a document. It was felt, at the time, that subaltern subjects were way too slippery when it came to the presentation of their identities to the authorities.

Read/See More: Frith Street Gallery

5 Comments on "Raj Konai’s Hand: The First Biometric Identity?"

  1. Jin The Ninja | Apr 17, 2012 at 6:44 pm |

    proving that statistical sociology was (is?) a method of social control.

    • Stratocaster | Apr 17, 2012 at 7:18 pm |

      Academic sociology is presently dominated by radical left-wing activists, by a ratio of about 30:1, so you’re correct, but probably not in the way you meant.

  2. Stratocaster | Apr 17, 2012 at 7:14 pm |

    > that subaltern subjects

    Antonio Gramsci called. He wants his discredited ideology back.

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