AO: Breckenridge is interested in empire and how the triangular relationship between India, the Witwatersrand and Britain established the special South African obsession with biometric government.
AO: Breckenridge notes the mutual co-construction of South Africa and the world: “the ways in which the world made South Africa, in particular how the global fingerprinting project created a distinctive state in this country. On the other, it examines how the events and ideologies produced by the very local (and often obscure, antipodean) struggles of this history around biometric identification fashioned a global politics.” (1)
AO: He builds on Cooper to note that the state in Africa was built to control trade and that has changed little in the postcolonial era.
AO: Breckenridge notes the close relationship between India and SA: Biometric government was first developed in India, brought to South Africa by officials of the Indian Colonial Service in 1900, where it was quickly put to use against the Indians in the Transvaal. “It was Gandhi’s international protests against fingerprint registration in South Africa that prompted the development of his anti-colonial political philosophy.” (19)