Graduation Year


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Media Studies

Reader 1

Ming-Yuen Ma

Reader 2

Piya Chatterjee

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Terms of Use for work posted in Scholarship@Claremont.

Rights Information

© 2020 Priya V Prabhakar


Tracing Biometric Assemblages in India’s Surveillance State seeks to understand the historical conditions that rendered the nation-state of India as having the world’s largest biometric surveillance system: Aadhaar. Surveillance practices used by the British Raj mirrors the current social order of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), as they use surveillance to similar ends in today’s political economy, through the intersecting forces of neoliberalism and ethnonationalism. This thesis is an exploration into how India’s current surveillance regimes cultivate biometric surveillant assemblages through Aadhaar. Contrary to claims that Aadhaar was created to empower the poor, I argue that these surveillance regimes are actually fundamentally oppressive. On one hand, Aadhaar champions biopolitical control used to uphold caste purity, control and coerce marginalized bodies, and anticipate, suppress, and punish dissent against the Indian nation-state. On the other hand, Aadhaar is also used as a means to achieve necropolitical control over those who fail to assimilate into the system and become disposable to the nation-state. These processes are informed by values of Brahmanical hegemony, capitalism, Hindu supremacy, and patriarchy. In order to move towards a praxis of anti-surveillance, we must make political demands for dominationless societies where care, solidarity, and trust substitute surveillance.


Below is the link to my web project, "Dekh Rahe: An Interactive Timeline of India's Surveillance State in the Making", for your reference to complement this thesis created during Fall of 2019:

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