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Imprint of the Raj: The Colonial Origin of Fingerprinting and Its Voyage to Britain Paperback – February 6, 2004

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Chandak Sengoopta is the Wellcome Research Lecturer at the Centre for the History of Science, Technology and Medicine at the University of Manchester. Originally from Calcutta, where he trained to be a doctor, he subsequently studied the history of science, medicine and technology in the USA and in London. His first academic book, Otto Weininger: Sex, Science, and Self in Imperial Vienna was published by the, University of Chicago Press in 2000. Imprint of the Raj is his first book for the general reader.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Pan Books (February 6, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0330491407
  • ISBN-13: 978-0330491402
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.7 x 7.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,960,360 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This book shows that the use of fingerprints for the identification of criminals, first implemented in the British Empire, was not simply the work of any one creative individual, but rather the product of a lengthy process involving different people -- some in British India and some in England. The author draws upon a wide range of sources to provide an interesting, in-depth look at the facts and circumstances surrounding the development and implementation of the use of fingerprint identification, first in civil proceedings and later in criminal investigations and criminal prosecutions. The author provides a fascinating and readable tale about how a combination of theory, technology, individual personality and temperament, personal rivalry, creativity, serendipity, and practical problem solving influenced the development and implementation of early fingerprint identification. The author also does a good job of comparing the pros and cons of early fingerprinting techniques with those of alternative forms of identification used in the Nineteenth Century, including the Bertillon measurement system used by the French police.

This book is a good example of the value of taking an interdisciplinary approach to study and better understand the complexity of the act of invention, the relationship between science and technology, the role of the human element in science and technology, and the difficulties of turning ideas and concepts into practical and workable technologies. Readers interested in the interdisciplinary approach taken by this book might also consider taking a look at the following other books: Robert V. Bruce, Lincoln and the Tools of War; Bruce J.
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