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Identity, DNA Typing and Citizenship: Philosophical Reflections
Place of publication | Year of publication | Collation: 
Québec | 2010 | p. 207–229
ISSN 1492-1375 (numérique)
Marie-Hélène Parizeau
Corporate author: 
Sociologie et sociétés
Europe and North America

In a context of globalization, migratory flows and the hunt for terrorists, how are biometrics, and, more specifically, the notion of the human DNA Typing, changing the individual’s relationship to his or her citizenship ?
To try to answer this question, we review some of the theoretical aspects of citizenship and briefly outline the history of identification measures linked to the advent of citizenship. We then examine the current context of the use of biometrics for identification purposes and the reasons for its use as cited by the European Community and the United States. We more particularly look at the case of the human DNA Typing, using examples from Canada and the United States. The genetic footprint is related to personal identity based on Paul Ricoeur’s concept of narrative identity. We show how the ethno-racial criteria used by biometrics, together with the ideology of multiculturalism, are constructing, in the West, a new narration of the Other, of foreigners, which excludes them from the sphere of citizenship.

Resource Type: 
Declarations, statements and normative instruments
Journal articles
Civic / Citizenship / Democracy
Cultural literacy / Intercultural / Cross-cultural / Multi-cultural
Social justice / Equity
Inclusive / Diversity
Level of education: 
Higher education


Political philosophy; Citizenship; Identity; Biometrics, DNA Typing
Philosophie politique; Citoyenneté, Identité; Biométrie; Empreinte génétique