Access to Civil Registration as a Mode of Stratification


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships


Sociology and Social Policy


Functional, inclusive civil registration systems are instrumental to governments in delivering basic rights and services, as well as informing public policy. Yet, millions worldwide remain uncounted. This dissertation explicates both the causes of being uncounted, and its micro- and macro-level consequences for individuals’ life chances and countries’ development aspirations. Drawing on fieldwork conducted in Malaysia and Myanmar, it argues that uncounted populations are not always the product of a lack of state capacity or economic development, as has been largely assumed by social scientists and development actors. Rather, who counts and how they are counted are inherently political choices that are sometimes part of larger strategies of exclusion—particularly with regard to regulating national membership.