Registration and RecognitionDocumenting the Person in World History

Registration and RecognitionDocumenting the Person in World History

Keith Breckenridge and Simon Szreter

Print publication date: 2014

ISBN: 9780197265314

Publisher: British Academy


This book is a comparative investigation of different regional histories of registration — a feature of societies common across Asia, Europe, and the Americas, but poorly understood in contemporary social science. Identity recognition of individuals by the groups they are born into or wish to affiliate themselves with has been a ubiquitous phenomenon of human experience. It has left widespread records in the form of legal, civic, and religious registration documentation. Yet, unlike the proliferation of censuses and state enumeration exercises of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, registration has attracted remarkably little scholarly attention. This volume provides an introduction to this new subject and presents a wide-ranging set of original studies of registration processes, offering a comparative conspectus across a time-span of over two thousand years. Registration has typically been viewed as coercive, and as a product of the rise of the modern European state. This book shows that the registration of individuals has taken remarkably similar, and interestingly comparable, forms in very different societies across the world. The book also suggests that registration has many hitherto neglected benefits for individuals, and that modern states have frequently sought to curtail, or avoid responsibility for, it. The book shows that the close study of practices of registration provides a tool that supports analytical comparisons across time and region, raising a common, limited set of comparative questions that highlight the differences between the forms of state power and the responsibilities and entitlements of individuals and families.

Table of Contents

Part I Registration, states and legal personhood

Part II Registration as negotiated recognition

8 Establishing and Registering Identity in the Dutch Republic1

Henk Looijesteijn, and Marco H. D. Van Leeuwen

Part III Empires and registration

Part IV Registration, Recognition and Human Rights

End Matter