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Changing African ID systems and reshaped citizen futures 
Amanda Hammar (Copenhagen University)
Kojo Aidoo (University of Ghana)
Asiimwe Godfrey (Makerere University)
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Amanda Hammar (Copenhagen University)
Andrea Behrends (Leipzig University)
Alena Thiel (IT University Copenhagen)
Politics and International Relations (x) Infrastructure (y)
Hörsaalgebäude, Hörssaal E
Saturday 3 June, -, -
Time zone: Europe/Berlin

Short Abstract:

This panel explores how increasingly centralized and digitalized national ID systems in Africa - simultaneously overvaluing new technical 'solutions' and devaluing selective pasts, peoples and 'papers' - are reconstituting state-citizen relations and reshaping differentiated citizen futures.

Long Abstract:

There is growing recognition of the devastating consequences for individuals and society of the mass lack of legal forms of identification globally. 50% of an estimated one billion people affected world-wide are said to reside in Africa. In response, a range of far-reaching, mainly digital and often highly centralizing 'solutions' are being promoted through hegemonic channels such as the World Bank's ID4D programme, among others. These are being adopted or adapted by many African states, alongside other local or hybridized systems. Yet mounting research-based evidence points to how these solutions rest on and reinforce over-simplified interpretations of why such wide-scale lack of IDs persist. They seldom acknowledge what this reflects about state priorities and state-citizen relations, or the threats posed to aspects of privacy, physical security, and access to or exclusion from core services, including the means of formal recognition of citizenship itself. Additionally, the overvaluing of such technical solutions simultaneously generates and masks the devaluing or even erasure of particular social and political pasts and groups of people, through redesigning classification and certification systems, and invalidating former paper-based ID systems that were often more conducive for inclusive citizen recognition.

This panel explores how increasingly digitalized and centralizing national identification (ID) systems are reconstituting state-citizen relations and reshaping differentiated citizen futures. It draws primarily but not only on the research within the Certifications of Citizenship in Africa (CERTIZENS) Research Project, which examines the logics, policies, practices and effects of the changing national identification and registration eco-systems in Ghana and Uganda.

Accepted papers:

Session 1 Saturday 3 June, 2023, -
Session 2 Saturday 3 June, 2023, -