Call for Papers: Technologies of Registration Workshop

Centre for Health, Law and Society
La Trobe Law School, La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia

Registration, as a technology and as a material practice, enables the production of information and shapes particular forms of legal relations. In different spatial and temporal locations, registration involves the gathering and recording of information by a variety of people, through a range of technical and material arrangements, and the production of new formations of knowledge. As the technologies and practices of registration change, so too do its rationales, purposes and functions. The nineteenth century, for example, witnessed a shift from clerical to civil registration of births and deaths in England. Baptism and burial registration at the parish level was largely driven by concerns over property rights and transfers, such as questions of inheritance, probate and conveyance, whereas legislative reforms in the nineteenth century transformed how the register became oriented towards compiling statistics, tracking populations and monitoring natality and mortality rates. The formation of a General Register Office in England ushered in a bureaucratic logic: individuals became records in a register, records became data points feeding into a data set, and individuals, rather than parishes, were tasked with a civic responsibility to register births and deaths in the family.


Registration in the twenty-first century cultivates social, legal and technical relations between actors, discourses and institutions in the nation-state. However, its rationales, purposes, functions and effects are often overlooked in academic scholarship, dismissed as an intractable cog in the ‘iron cage’ of bureaucracy. Technologies of registration underpin the bureaucratisation of social inequalities whereby those experiencing disadvantage are marginalised as ‘dangerous’ individuals within a neoliberal rationality of governance. It is becoming urgent that we interrogate technologies of registration from interdisciplinary perspectives, to examine how changes in registration support the production of different relations, and flows of different forms of information over time. It is imperative to question how registration produces and is produced by new forms of knowledge of both the individual and the population.

Submission instructions

The Centre for Health, Law and Society invites papers that engage with technologies of registration in the past, present and future. What is the relationship between law, governmentality and registration systems? How do technologies of registration materialise inequalities and positions of privilege? How may we interrogate and account for the failures of technologies of registration? How do institutional practices, bureaucratic procedures and legal rituals and ceremonies affect those that occupy the role of registrar and those that register? How does the register affect the performance of public roles, and official decision-making across different jurisdictions? We invite scholars to explore a variety of registration practices – land, birth, death, relationships, social security, intellectual property, finance, migration, education and the environment – and view the problem of registration through an innovative, interdisciplinary and critical approach.

Please submit a maximum 500 word abstract to
Dr Marc Trabsky ( and
Dr Sarah Keenan (
by 15 March 2020.

Workshop Convenors

Dr Marc Trabsky and Dr Laura Griffin,
Centre for Health, Law and Society,
La Trobe Law School, La Trobe University

Dr Sarah Keenan,
Birkbeck School of Law, University of London

Event details

Date: 24 April 2020

Time: 9:30am – 4:30pm

Venue: Room 20.02, Level 20, La Trobe University, City Campus, 360 Collins Street , Melbourne 3000

More information: for more information, please contact the Centre for Health Law and Society via

La Trobe