Shifting Identities in the Biometric Age: a conversation between artist Ayesha Hameed and scholar Btihaj Ajana

Image: Still from A Rough History (of the destruction of fingerprints) by Ayesha Hameed

As part of Dreamed Native Ancestry (DNA), Ayesha Hameed and Btihaj Ajana discuss the impact and ethical implications of the advance of biometric means of verifying identities – through fingerprints, DNA tests, facial recognition software, iris scans, voice waves, etc.

 
From border control and asylum regulation to the management of social services and medical records, many fields are increasingly using such systems as a means of confirming identity and enabling control. This raises a host of concerns around the increase in surveillance and the reduction of identity to bio-data and algorithms.
 
Dr Ayesha Hameed, an artist who explores historical and contemporary borders and migration in her research, will discuss these concerns with Dr Btihaj Ajana, whose book Governing Through Biometrics: The Biopolitics of Identity analyses biometric systems as a biopolitical practice within the domain of borders, immigration and citizenship management and interrogates what is at stake in the merging of the body and technology for security and governance purposes. Hameed's project A Rough History (of the destruction of fingerprints) is a film essay that looks at the coalescence of skin and data in the collection and destruction of fingerprints, examining the life and circulation of the fingerprint in a speculative history that travels from border checks to early gestures in film.
 
The event is followed by a performance by sound artists Dubmorphology (Trevor Mathison and Gary Stewart) from approximately 4pm, in which the artists will remix sound samples of the migrant stories and wisdom donated to the Dreamed Native Ancestry (DNA) database.
 
You are welcome to come to either or both the conversation and the performance, or to come at any time from midday and contribute your ancestry stories or memories of migration. 
 
The event is free and open to all, although we recommend reserving a place for the conversation here
 
In-conversation
3-4pm 
 
Performance by Dubmorphology
4-5.30pm
 
The event forms part of Dreamed Native Ancestry (DNA), an installation and programme by artist group Mission//Misplaced Memory (Dubmorphology and Zaynab Bunsie), critically addressing and re-thinking contemporary issues around race, migration, biopolitics and culture, through an Afrofuturist science fiction narrative and deep history perspective.
 
ABOUT THE CONTRIBUTORS
 
Dr Ayesha Hameed
 
Ayesha Hameed is an artist whose work explores contemporary borders and migration, critical race theory, Walter Benjamin, and visual cultures of the Black Atlantic. Recent presentations and performances have been shown at the Institute of Contemporary Art in London, The Showroom, the Oxford Programme for the Future of Cities, the Haus der Kulturen der Welt and the Edinburgh College of Art.
 
Dr Btihaj Ajana
 
Btihaj Ajana is a Senior Lecturer in Culture, Digital Humanities, and Creative Industries at King’s College London. She is also a Marie Curie Research Fellow and Associate Professor at the Aarhus Institute of Advanced Studies. Her research expertise covers a broad range of subjects including digital culture, identity, biometrics and big data, and the politics and ethics of borders and immigration