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Centre of African Studies: Events


We didn't have salt, but we had papers: Village identity papers in Uganda

We didn't have salt, but we had papers: Village identity papers in Uganda
Speaker: Florence Brisset-Foucault # Lecturer in Political Science, Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne, IMAF (Institut des mondes africains), Junior fellow of the Institut universitaire de France
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Date and Time
23rd Oct 2019 16:00 - 23rd Oct 2019 17:30
Seminar room 2, Chrystal Macmillan Building

Biometric National Identity Cards were introduced by the Ugandan central government from 2014, yet archival work and ethnographic fieldwork in varied parts of the country reveal that the production of identity papers has a long, plural and localised history throughout the country. Since the early 1980s, village leaders have been issuing village identity cards and letters of introduction to residents. This paper explores the social and localised although connected logics that have led to the development of these bureaucracies of identity at the village level. It seeks to unpack the social conditions, the varied moral ambitions, and the particular histories of social differentiation and literacy that lead to the production of identity documents. It shows that while they embraced the national agenda of technological renewal of identity documentation, village leaders did it on their own terms, with the ambition to produce moral and cosmopolitan communities of "good character citizens", anchored in hierarchical social sieves, rather than mere "ethnicised" individuals. 

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