Current Institutional Affiliation
Coordinadora, Grupo de Investagacion: Cultura, Violencia y Territorio, Universidad de Antioquia

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2009
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Anthropology, University of California / Davis
“Digital Birth”: Identity Cards, Mobility and the State in Senegal

In 2005 the Senegalese government adopted a system of identity cards that enables automated digital-fingerprint recognition. Historically, Senegal has been a node for West African immigrants seeking alternative livelihoods; beginning in the 21st, Dakar has become a jumping off platform for Senegalese and other West African migrants seeking to travel to Europe and the United States. How do new digitized technologies transform the relationship between mobile population and the Senegalese state? My research is situated at the intersection of two contemporary phenomena: 1) the adoption by governments around the world of digitized technologies purporting to record citizens' identity and movement accurately and 2) processes of mobility in and out of West Africa that circumvent the territorial borders of the nation-state. My project looks, on the one hand, at how paper-based procedures and unofficial transactions interact with automated verification technologies in creating a population registry in Senegal in order to monitor citizens, and, on the other, how these different technologies transform processes of mobility of migrant populations in Dakar. I hypothesize that the juxtaposition of these different technologies creates a gap between actual birth and digital birth where citizens and state representatives interact in official and unofficial ways that are producing new modes of citizenship and novel enactments of the state.