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Republican Identity : Bertillonage as government Technique

Abstract : By the end of the nineteenth century in France, industrial growth and urbanization had radically transformed the way of life and destabilized the existence of a significant proportion of the population. The response of the Third Republic was to extoll the virtues of order, stability, and work, and it did all its power to enforce respect for these values. This was the context in which police anthropometry emerged. Invented by Alphonse Bertillon (1853-1914), anthropometry was not simply a new weapon in the armoury of repression, but a revolutionary technique: it placed identity and identification at the heart of government policy, introducing a spirit and set of principles that still exist today. By tracing the evolution, consequences, and implications of this system, we shall see how it enabled first the maintenance of order and repression, and then the establishment of a technique and a politics of republican government based on the concept of identity. It was in the context of criminal policy, confronted by the struggle against crime and by galloping rates of recidivism, that this politics of identity was to emerge.
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Contributor : Martine Kaluszynski <>
Submitted on : Sunday, November 30, 2008 - 5:00:54 PM
Last modification on : Friday, July 17, 2020 - 9:28:26 AM
Document(s) archivé(s) le : Monday, June 7, 2010 - 11:36:49 PM


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  • HAL Id : halshs-00343196, version 1




Martine Kaluszynski. Republican Identity : Bertillonage as government Technique. sous la direction de Caplan (J), Torpey (J),. Documenting Individual Identity : The Development of State Practices Since the French Revolution,, Princeton University Press, pp. 123-139, 2001. ⟨halshs-00343196⟩



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