Kranzberg Dissertation Fellowship Recipient 2021
Michelle Spektor, MIT
For ” From Documents to Data: The Emergence of National Biometric Identification Systems in the 20th and 21st Centuries.
The Committee is pleased to award the 2021 Melvin Kranzberg Dissertation Fellowship to Michelle Spektor.
Michelle Spektor is a student in the Doctoral Program in History, Anthropology, and Science, Technology, and Society at MIT, working on a dissertation project titled, From Documents to Data: The Emergence of National Biometric Identification Systems in the 20th and 21st Centuries.
Spektor examines the shared history of national biometric identification systems in the UK and Israel to uncover how current systems, as well as recent proposals for digital versions, were influenced by past systems used in the UK, in the British Mandate of Palestine, and further implemented in Israel after 1948. The study takes a transregional and diachronic approach. It explores a series of cases between 1904 and 2017 to uncover how the intertwining of technological systems and national political cultures created different relationships between the state and the citizen, or the criminal. This project aims to contribute to discussions of the relationships between technology and identity, and technology and modes of governance, as well as the historical underpinnings of the surveillance state.
Spektor will use the Fellowship to conduct archival research and oral history interviews in the UK and in Israel.