Bhalisa 3 | Jesus and St Johns Colleges, Cambridge | March 19 - 21, 2019

Call for Participation

Full list of Participants

Panels & Papers

Ross's Liveblog

2017 Meeting

Bhalisa 3 | Cambridge | Panels

Tuesday, 19 March, 2019 - 23:30

See the list of panels below.

The third biennial workshop of the Bhalisa network takes its focus from an important new problem for economics, governance and justice in countries with histories of weak state administration: Does machine-based identification strengthen or weaken the dispersed and delegated processes of registration of the poor and the marginal? This key problem unsurprisingly has led to questions in the realm of law and policy, in civil registration in general, and at the interface of machine learning, particularly with fast-developing private credit markets in poor countries. In this workshop we aim to develop criteria across fields and regions for evaluating how investments in digital technologies of identification and credit risk assessment effect the less visible administrative processes of civil registration.

Venue: The workshop will take place in the Webb Library at Jesus College, Cambridge, UK

For a detailed summary of the discussion at this event see Ross Anderson's live blog at

Day 1 -- March 19, 2019

Introductions and opening  
Day 1 : 9:00 to 9:30 Subhashish Bhadra Omidyar Research

1 Global comparisons of ID systems

Ross Anderson What's in a name? The changing nature of identity, online and off
Day 1 : 9:30 to 11:15 Eddie Higgs Facial biometrics and the new physiognomy
Chair : Keith Breckenridge Wendy Hunter Undocumented Americans
  Amba Kak (Re)claiming data colonization?: Interrogating official narratives from India, China and Europe
  Ian Watson The Nordic ID Model: A Guidepost for the Future or a Relic from the Past?

2 Competing Models of Privacy and Data Regulation

Edwin Abuya Access to Information & Privacy Rights: Reviewing the East African Record
Day 1 : 11:30 to 13:00 Gautam Bhatia Aadhaar and Privacy
Chair :  Jon Klaaren Marianne Henriksen Current developments in Norwegian population registration, digital-ID and biometric capture
  Jonathan Klaaren Participation in Financialized Markets in Africa: Regulatory Pluralism in Privacy, Competition, and Registration Regimes
  Ranjit Singh Memory practices of Platforms: Aadhaar as a Know-Your-Resident Modality

3 Credit surveillance as alternative or platform for civil registration

Johann Bezuidenhout Breaking service exclusion barriers using alternative approaches to Functional Credential Registration and Issuance
Day 1: 14:00 to 15:30 Roland Claussen Predictive power of (German) credit information, and its application to microfinance lending in East Africa
Chair : Edgar Whitley Gabriel Davel Credit Markets in Africa: Potential & limitations of technology and digital credit to overcome traditional constraints to credit supply
  Bulelani Jili Chinese social scoring and African surveillance states

4 Comparative Costs and Benefits of ID and Registration Projects

Bidisha / Syed Mohammed Chaudhuri / Faisal Examining the Foundational versus Functional ID Debate
Day 1 : 16:00 to 17:30 Marielle Debos The marketing of Electoral biometrics in Africa: Politics, Business and Expertise
Chair :  Keith Breckenridge Alan Gelb Technology and Capacity: Insights from Applications of Aadhaar
  Jaap van der Straaten Of Democracy and Elections in Africa—In Reverse
Day 2 -- March 20, 2019

5 Practical inclusion, or how to walk the last mile

Amiya Bhatia Changes in birth registration coverage between 1999 and 2015 in low and middle-income countries: Are wealth and geographic inequalities decreasing?
Day 2 : 9:00 to 10:45 Laura Bingham The Last Mile, Do No Harm and the Bottom Up: The Promise of Civil Society and Community Engagement in Implementing Goal 16.9
Chair :  Mia Harbitz Sanjay Dharwadker Emerging incompatibilities between border crossing and national identification frameworks
  Ursula Rao Re-spatializing social security, or how to relate hierachical states to decentral e-services

6 Statelessness, border-marking and migration

Natalie Brinham Destroying identities across borders: Rohingya refugees and biometric registration
Day 2 : 11:00 to 12:30 Fernando de Medina Rosales Obstacles faced by displaced persons to access civil registration and identification: NRC’s field experiences
Chair : Bronwen Manby Eves Hayes de Kalaf (Re)Organising Citizens: Legal Identity, Access to Documentation and Race in Contemporary Latin America
  Bronwen Manby Civil registration and the creation of statelessness among migrants and refugees in North Africa
  Emrys Schoemaker Identity at the Margins: Examining Refugee Experiences withDigital Identity Systems in Lebanon, Jordan, and Uganda

7 Registration and administration

John Effah National versus Sector Biometric Identification Systems in Ghana: Motivations, Contradictions and the Way Forward
Day 2 : 14:00 to 15:30 Christian Lund Another Fine Mess
Chair : SImon Szreter Cláudio Machado Cavalcanti The failed institutionalization of biometric identification in Brazil and its implications
  Alena Thiel Database interoperability and the rehabilitation of administrative population data in Ghana
  Ornit Shani Registering Voters In the World’s Largest Democracy: Trajectories from India’s First Elections
8 Closing session      
Day 2 : 16:00 to 17:00      



Centre for Global Equality With support from the Omidyar Network and the Centre for Global Equality