Notes to Imagining Biometric Security
1. The word failure is itself an outgrowth of the nineteenth-century application of the
language of business to a much broader arena of social activities, where it was used
to refer uniquely to an ‘‘entrepreneurial fall from grace’’ (Sandage 2005:11). In the
nineteenth century the word came to include other human endeavors in a linguis-
tic shift that paralleled the application of business terms to everyday life. The
expression ‘‘I feel like a failure’’ would have had no meaning in 1800. As the
historian Scott Sandage argues, this phrase now ‘‘comes so naturally we forget it is
a ﬁgure of speech: the language of business applied to the soul’’ (5).
2. Corporeal fetishism is Haraway’s extension of Marx’s commodity fetishism. Hara-
way (1997: 135) explains that corporeal fetishism produces ‘‘interesting mistakes’’
by mistaking complex, lively interrelationships for ﬁxed things in a process that
helps to smooth the passage of bodies and genes to market. However, she amends
Marx to add nonhuman actors to the equation of commodity fetishism (143).
3. In Dark Angel, for example, the United States has su√ered a massive technological
failure referred to only as ‘‘the pulse,’’ a giant electrical surge that destroyed the
nation’s infrastructure. Each episode features the genetically enhanced heroine
teaming up with her entourage in order to save a series of imperiled individuals.
4. The ways that the media both informs and is informed by public policy are well
studied (Gates 2004; Penley 1997; Treichler 1999). One key example is found in
the television show 24, in which U.S. security agents use torture to extract the
‘‘truth’’ out of terrorists in a timely fashion. Torin Monahan (2010), a surveillance
studies theorist, shows that ‘‘ticking bomb’’ scenarios of the type found in 24 were
repeatedly referenced in the 2008 presidential debates, despite the fact that their
real-world occurrence is extremely rare.
5. After writing about medical error for ten years, Marianne Paget herself was mis-
diagnosed with back pain rather than smooth muscle cancer. This medical mistake
resulted in her early death. Describing her terrible prognosis as a result of medical
error, Paget (1993: 9) said, ‘‘I have not asked ‘Why did this happen to me?’ I have