Claire Webb

Claire Webb

Historian, Anthropologist of Science, 2020-2022 Berggruen Fellow

Biography

Claire Isabel Webb earned her Ph.D. graduate from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s History, Anthropology, and Science, Technology, and Society (HASTS) program in 2020. An internship at the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) Institute in 2008 sparked the topic of Webb’s dissertation: Technologies of Perception: Searches for Life Beyond Earth. Informed by her ongoing work with the SETI group Breakthrough Listen at U.C. Berkeley, Webb’s book project historically and ethnographically tracks how scientists have investigated extraterrestrial life forms—both microbes and beings—since the Space Age. She used feminist and decolonize frameworks of analysis to theorize historical and current scientific imaginations of alien life. Webb plans to complete this project as a Fellow at the Berggruen Institute and to continue to forge cross-disciplinary connections between scientists and humanists.