The Art of Identification: Forensics, Surveillance, Identity

Rex Ferguson, Melissa Monique Littlefield, James Purdon

Research output: Book/Report/Conference proceedingBook


Since the mid-nineteenth century, there has been a notable acceleration in the development of the techniques used to confirm identity. From fingerprints to photographs to DNA, we have been rapidly amassing novel means of identification, even as personal, individual identity remains a complex chimera. The Art of Identification examines how such processes are entangled within a wider sphere of cultural identity formation.

Against the backdrop of an unstable modernity and the rapid rise and expansion of identificatory techniques, this volume makes the case that identity and identification are mutually imbricated and that our best understanding of both concepts and technologies comes through the interdisciplinary analysis of science, bureaucratic infrastructures, and cultural artifacts. With contributions from literary critics, cultural historians, scholars of film and new media, a forensic anthropologist, and a human bioarcheologist, this book reflects upon the relationship between the bureaucratic, scientific, and technologically determined techniques of identification and the cultural contexts of art, literature, and screen media. In doing so, it opens the interpretive possibilities surrounding identification and pushes us to think about it as existing within a range of cultural influences that complicate the precise formulation, meaning, and reception of the concept.
Original languageEnglish (US)
PublisherPenn State University Press
Number of pages264
ISBN (Print)978-0-271-09057-3
StatePublished - Sep 2021

Publication series

NameAnthropoScene: The SLSA Book Series


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