Abstract

It is well-known that Mark Twain introduced the idea of finger-print identification to much of the world in his novella Pudd’nhead Wilson. While Twain’s prescience has often been noted, this essay explores the less-remarked-upon connections between fingerprint identification and the idea of racial typing that forms a central theme of the book. The essay argues that, in addition to foreseeing the use of fingerprint evidence in criminal trials, Twain identified a tension between individualized identification and racial typing that has pervaded the law and criminal-justice systems through the present day.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1080-6520
Print ISSN
1063-1801
Pages
pp. 227-265
Launched on MUSE
2009-04-01
Open Access
No
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