A critical rearticulation of Foucault's panoptic paradigm : fingerprinting as a failing project
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Using a critical rearticulation of Michel Foucault's broad output, this thesis analyses juridical fingerprinting in England to illuminate panoptic systems as inevitably failing projects. Explicitly, it presents original scholarship in delineating twenty criteria that summarise Foucault's contribution to surveillance studies literature and which comprise the theoretical framework for this thesis. In narrating the story of the incremental panoptification of fingerprinting, it elucidates his interpretation of Jeremy Bentham's Panopticon design and how fingerprinting fails to meet this specific description of panopticism. This thesis also assesses a supplementary argument that whilst Foucault's work has influenced discourse of almost every genre, the inaccurate rendering of his texts has been frequent. The criticism of 'traditional' readings of Foucault centres on the ahistorical spatiality which eclipses discourse on moments of rupture and change that were so crucial to his genealogy. The thesis asserts that closer evaluation of Foucault's panopticon is required for application to contemporary surveillance assemblages, carefully rejecting the inappropriate extensions offered by petit Foucauldians who have limitedly engaged with his work. Utilising Pyrrhonian scepticism in line with Foucault's own, this thesis exposes accepted understandings of surveillance, especially fingerprinting, as flawed. By describing fingerprint technology as existed historically and as exists now, whilst predicting a future of intensified (but still failing) panoptification, this thesis explores the fundamental fragility of the mechanism. Furthermore, such corporal surveillance is therefore ineffective as a regime of governmental population control.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
Embargo Date: Restricted until 1st November 2017
Embargo Reason: Thesis restricted in accordance with University regulations
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