This is a comparative investigation of different regional histories of registration - a feature of societies common across Asia, Europe and the Americas, but poorly understood in contemporary social science. Registration has typically been viewed as coercive, and as a product of the rise ofthe modern European state. This volume shows that the registration of individuals has taken remarkably similar, and interestingly comparable, forms in very different societies across the world. The volume also suggests that registration has many hitherto neglected benefits for individuals, and that modern states have frequently sought to curtail, or avoid responsibility for, it. The book shows that the close study of practices of registration provides a tool - like class, gender or state -that supports analytical comparisons across time and region, raising a common, limited set of comparative questions that highlight the differences between the forms of state power and the responsibilities and entitlements of individuals and families.