Dr Keren  Weitzberg

Dr Keren Weitzberg

Visiting Fellow

Firoz Lalji Institute for Africa

Arabic, English, French, Hebrew, Swahili
Key Expertise
History and Contemporary Politics of East Africa, Refugee and Migration

About me

Keren Weitzberg is an interdisciplinary historian who works at the intersection of migration studies, critical race studies, and science and technology studies (STS). Her work examines problematics related to mobility, border-crossing, race-making, and biometrics. She received her PhD from Stanford University and is a teaching fellow at the Institute of Advanced Studies and the History Department at University College London (UCL). She has over a decade of experience carrying out archival research, fieldwork, and interviews in Kenya and collaborating with African scholars and practitioners. 

Her first book, We Do Not Have Borders: Greater Somalia and the Predicaments of Belonging in Kenya, was published with Ohio University Press for the New African Histories series and was a finalist for the 2018 Melville J. Herskovits Prize (ASA Book Prize) for best scholarly work on Africa. It was also named one of Quartz Africa’s favorite books of 2017 and featured in The Washington Post’s popular political science blog, The Monkey Cage. We Do Not Have Borders explores the interrelationship between border crossing, reactionary nativism, and hatred of the internal stranger and offers insights into the ways that transnational populations negotiate state spatiality.

Her current project, tentatively entitled Biometrics from the Margins: A History of ID Cards and Biometric Registration in Kenya, asks: How have East Africans harnessed, transformed, and subverted biometric technologies since they were first introduced in the early twentieth century? Can an identification and registration technique long associated with colonial extraction be a means of accelerating political and financial inclusion for the world’s poor, as many proponents suggest? Biometrics from the Margins has been generously funded by a 2019 American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) Fellowship, a 2019-20 Fulbright US Scholar award, a 2018 BA/Leverhulme Small Research Grant, and a 2017 thematic research grant from the British Institute in Eastern Africa. 

Keren has also published in the Journal of Northeast African StudiesThe Journal of African History, and the American Historical Review. She is a contributor to the Made by History section of The Washington PostAfrica is a Country, and Coda Story and has also appeared on the BBC World Service.