indentity



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.