Jose Ragas

Jose Ragas's picture
HGS 209
Fields of interest: 

Global STS; Surveillance and Biometrics; History of Technology in Latin America and the Global South; Grassroots Science and Technology; Digital History; Early Global Warming and Society

Jose Ragas (Ph.D. in History, UC Davis) investigates the emergence of the global biometric system in post-colonial societies and the current implementation of ID cards as a mechanism designed to grant citizenship and curb the legacy of gender, age, and racial discrimination imposed by similar technologies in the past. In his dissertation he examined the genealogy of the identification system in post-colonial Peru, arguing that the implementation of certain techniques and devices (fingerprints, mug shots, and identity cards) reinforced archaic social structures that enabled policy makers and technocrats to extract resources from citizens via the imposition of individual identities.
His research also shows how citizens turned those technologies into generators of social and political rights, empowering citizens and allowing them to gain official recognition. He is currently working on his book manuscript tentatively titled Andean Big Brothers: Technology and Bodies in the Age of Global Surveillance. In it, he analyzes the complex emergence of the modern identification system in Peru, focusing on how postcolonial structures fostered racial divides that left large segments of the population undocumented until the 2000s.
Selected articles and book chapters
“The Revolutionary Roots of Modern ID cards.” Age of Revolutions (September 2016).
“The Silent Revolution: How ID Cards are Changing the World.” Harvard International Review 38.2 (Spring issue 2017): 24-7.
with Patricia Palma. “Sanitary Enclaves. Chinese Diaspora, Anti-Immigration Discourse and Popular Medicine in Lima’s Chinatown.” Anuario Colombiano de Historia Social 45.1 (Colombia). Special Issue on “Hygiene, Body, and Disease,” edited by Diego Armús. (forthcoming).
“Starving Revolution: ID Cards and Food Rationing in Bolivarian Venezuela” in David
Murakami, ed. Surveillance and the Global Turn to Authoritarianism. Surveillance & Society (forthcoming).
“The Official Making of Undocumented Population. Peru, 1880s-1930s.” In: Ben Fallaw & David Nugent eds., Capitalisms, States, Citizens in Latin America, c. 1850-c. 1950. (forthcoming)
You can also see my work in and follow me on Twitter (@joseragas).