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Registration and RecognitionDocumenting the Person in World History$
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Keith Breckenridge and Simon Szreter

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780197265314

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197265314.001.0001

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Parish Baptism Registers, Vital Registration and Fixing Identities in Uganda1

Parish Baptism Registers, Vital Registration and Fixing Identities in Uganda1

Chapter:
(p.277) 10 Parish Baptism Registers, Vital Registration and Fixing Identities in Uganda1
Source:
Registration and Recognition
Author(s):

Shane Doyle

Publisher:
British Academy
DOI:10.5871/bacad/9780197265314.003.0011

Uganda's system of recording births and deaths was unusually comprehensive by colonial African standards, but colonial registration struggled to assign individuals a permanent, accurate identity. Many Ugandans used different names at different times in their dealings with officialdom, and local elites were complicit in this reidentification. The flexibility which is an inevitable component of a name-based registration system in East Africa served to alleviate social tension and exclusion. The possession of multiple names was advantageous to the weak, and could benefit rural elites, but it obstructed the state in its desire to monitor and control its population. The rise of biometric systems of identification is in part designed to bypass the naming problem, but also reflects the growing influence on African governments of two contradictory trends: the tying of aid to concepts of universal rights, and growing awareness of the potential of technology to undermine challenges to governmental authority.

Keywords:   Uganda, Africa, colonial, postcolonial, registration, names, rights, technology

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