Bodies as Evidence

Security, Knowledge, and Power

Book Pages: 256 Illustrations: 3 illustrations Published: November 2018

Anthropology > Cultural Anthropology, Science and Technology Studies, Sociology

From biometrics to predictive policing, contemporary security relies on sophisticated scientific evidence-gathering and knowledge-making focused on the human body. Bringing together new anthropological perspectives on the complexities of security in the present moment, the contributors to Bodies as Evidence reveal how bodies have become critical sources of evidence that is organized and deployed to classify, recognize, and manage human life. Through global case studies that explore biometric identification, border control, forensics, predictive policing, and counterterrorism, the contributors show how security discourses and practices that target the body contribute to new configurations of knowledge and power. At the same time, margins of error, unreliable technologies, and a growing suspicion of scientific evidence in a “post-truth” era contribute to growing insecurity, especially among marginalized populations.

Contributors. Carolina Alonso-Bejarano, Gregory Feldman, Francisco J. Ferrándiz, Daniel M. Goldstein, Ieva Jusionyte, Amade M’charek, Mark Maguire, Joseph P. Masco, Ursula Rao, Antonius C. G. M. Robben, Joseba Zulaika, Nils Zurawski


"The volume certainly highlights what a conceptual anthropological engagement with 'security,' as well as with 'evidence' means. The volume will be worth reading for scholars in- and out-side anthropology interested in the production of knowledge, technologies, security and governmentality."
  — Monika Weissensteiner, Surveillance Studies

Bodies as Evidence poses a bold premise. It argues that not only is evidence beholden to social and political influences but that the glorification of evidence has demonstrable, and often dangerous, side effects on already marginalized communities. Its exemplary use of ethnographic and reflexive methodologies illustrates the vast complexity of seemingly objective data, and the practical limitations of collecting and employing it.”
  — Sarah Maya Rosen, Journal of International & Global Studies

“This timely book will be of interest to political, legal, and social geographers concerned with the embodied and spatial implications of shifting laws and borders, and demands for evidence by and against the state.”
  — Emily C. Kaufman, Social & Cultural Geography

“This book gives new meaning to the anthropology of security. A scintillating, tightly knit collection, it illuminates, quite brilliantly, the core drama of our times, when radical uncertainty feeds a fetishism of evidence, when alt-authoritarianism breeds a strange new relativism and an insidious obsession with fakery. Those who live in these times seek variously to counter its terrors by perfecting their fix on truth and its elusive measures; above all they return, as modernity's children, to the ground zero of the human body, thus to anchor the indices of the real and the absolute.” — Jean Comaroff, coauthor of The Truth about Crime: Sovereignty, Knowledge, Social Order

“This unique and unusually important book explains why the ‘body’—as both corporeal identity and as metaphor—has become so vital to understanding present-day security concerns, projects, and technologies. With its novel use of evidence-gathering and evidence-based knowledge both as a lens through which to critique the contemporary security state and as an organizing principle for the range of topics and cases covered, this book will be welcomed by anthropologists of security and policing, as well as sociologists, STS scholars, and others working on immigration and refugee issues, forensics, and war and technology.” — Andrew Bickford, author of Fallen Elites: The Military Other in Post-Unification Germany


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Price: $25.95

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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Mark Maguire is Senior Lecturer of Anthropology and Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences at Maynooth University.

Ursula Rao is Professor of Anthropology at the University of Leipzig.

Nils Zurawski is Senior Researcher and Visiting Professor in the Department of Social Sciences at the University of Hamburg.

Maguire and Zurawski are coeditors of The Anthropology of Security: Perspectives from the Frontline of Policing, Counterterrorism, and Border Control. Rao is author of News as Culture: Journalistic Practices and the Remaking of Indian Leadership Traditions.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Introduction: Bodies as Evidence / Mark Maguire and Ursula Rao  1
1. The Truth of the Error: Making Identity and Security through Biometric Discrimination / Elida Jacobsen and Ursula Rao  24
2. Injured by the Border: Security Buildup, Migrant Bodies, and Emergency Response in Southern Arizona / Ieva Jusionyte  43
3. E-Terrify: Securitized Immigration and Biometric Surveillance in the Workplace / Daniel M. Goldstein and Carolina Alonso-Bejarano  62
4. "Dead-Bodies-at-the-Border": Distributed Evidence and Emerging Forensic Infrastructure for Identificiation / Amade M'charek  89
5. The Transitional Lives of Crimes against Humanity: Forensic Evidence under Changing Political Circumstances / Antonius C. G. M. Robben and Francisco J. Ferrándiz  110
6. Policing Future Crimes / Mark Maguire  137
7. "Intelligence" and "Evidence": Sovereign Authority and the Differences that Words Make / Gregory Feldman  159
8. The Secrecy/Threat Matrix / Joseph P. Masco  175
9. What Do Your Want? Evidence and Fantasy in the War on Terror / Joseba Zulaika  201
Conclusion: Discontinuities and Diversity / Mark Maguire and Ursula Rao  228
Contributors  237
Index  241
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-1-4780-0294-9 / Cloth ISBN: 978-1-4780-0169-0
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