University of Virginia, College and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Crime, Security, and Citizenship: The Politics of Fingerprinting in China, 1920s - 1940s with Daniel Asen (Rutgers University)

November 15, 2019

An event in the Asian Cosmopolitanisms Lecture Series. Co-sponsored by the Humanities Informatics' Surveillance and Infrastructure research group.

Modern practices of fingerprint identification were introduced into China during the first few decades of the 20th century and saw widespread use over the 1930s and 1940s, a period that saw the Nationalists’ brief unification of the country, the outbreak of the Second Sino-Japanese War, and a civil war between the Nationalists and Communists. While the earliest applications of modern fingerprinting had focused on the identification of repeat criminal offenders and forensic crime scene investigation, by the late 1940s the taking of fingerprints had become a much more common experience in urban China, one that was tied to the use of travel passes and identity documents during the Japanese occupation and, following the end of the Pacific War, a new regime of national identity documents implemented by the Nationalist government. This talk examines continuities and shifts in the techniques, applications, and politics of fingerprinting as it was utilized by local, national, and occupation regimes during these decades of political tumult and war.
Homer Statue
Location: 
Wilson 142
Time: 
4:00PM - 5:30PM