Zehra Hashmi

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Michigan, Ann Arbor, U. of

Grant number

Gr. 9495

Approve Date

May 1, 2017

Project Title

Hashmi, Zehra, U. of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI - To aid research on 'Kinchip: Identification, Security and Biometric Belonging in Urban Pakistan,' supervised by Dr. Matthew Hull

Preliminary abstract: Pakistan’s National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) began its operations in 2000 by launching an electronic identity card. More than just connecting a name and a body, each card has a unique identifying number that connects its bearer with a vast set of databases. NADRA’s significance lies in its ubiquity: the card is used for banking, paying bills, school admissions, acquiring a cell phone chip, property transactions and voting. Moreover, key actors involved in NADRA operations are algorithms that integrate and verify data, particularly familial relations creating official kin units. My research asks how NADRA reconstitutes kin ties by examining the effects of this governance technology amongst Pashtun migrants in Islamabad. As central targets of security measures, this ethnic group provides a productive point from which to observe NADRA’s operations and its implications for social life in urban Pakistan. How do NADRA’s identification processes shape Pashtun’s lived understandings of what security is, as well as conceptions of security more broadly? As identification practices become entangled with security, I ask how individuals’ incorporation, exclusion and status within NADRA’s databases informs claims and experiences of urban space, especially for the ethnically marginalized? How does this affect migrants’ ability to inhabit the city as home? These questions seek to explain how NADRA moves from a security-oriented identification system to a broader regulatory regime governing domains of social life outside the realm of security such as kinship and dwelling practices. This research will illuminate connections between databases, security practices, and the status of ethnic minorities as they crystalize into a single, state-organized information infrastructure.