The National Museum of Ethnology (Minpaku) is a research center for ethnology and cultural anthropology.

The Anthropology of Identification and Migration

Joint Research Coordinator CHEN Tien-Shi

Reserch Theme List


The aim of this project is to clarify how legal and political systems and their implementation affect identification of individuals who migrate, travel across borders, or reside outside their native countries. We are exploring how, throughout the life cycle from birth to death, the identification documents required of travelers and residents, affect both immigrants and their descendants. By examining passports, other travel documents, and other forms of personal ID, we are trying to understand how they affect both personal identification and social transnationalism. We note, too, that these documents become important links between the generations, as second and third-generation immigrants pass through life stages from birth and childhood, education, employment, marriage, divorce, residence, family life, community building, retirement, death and burial.. To understand how these documents have changed over time and how they are used in a transnational era with a borderless economy is a research topic of the highest importance. To directly address, through a global process and networking, human rights and other issues surrounding the role and administration of personal identification from anthropological, sociological and legal perspectives will be of major significance for immigration policy.

Our goal is to offer concrete proposals for how to safeguard human rights while taking into account the needs of the legal and administrative systemsof nation states.