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Sean Takats

Associate Professor
George Mason University, Fairfax
Tropical Medicine as Enlightenment Colonialism: Digital Research and Collaboration
01 October 2016 -
30 June 2017
Digital humanities

Sean Takats is Director of Research at the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media, and Associate Professor of History at George Mason University. His research focuses on early modern France, the Enlightenment, and the digital humanities. He has received fellowships and research grants from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Institute for Museum and Library Services, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Social Science Research Council.

Research interests

History of medicine; digital research methods eighteenth-century France and its colonies; the Enlightenment

Tropical Medicine as Enlightenment Colonialism: Digital Research and Collaboration

This project examines the colonial doctors of the Ancien Régime to understand their role in establishing a European presence in the tropics. These doctors enrich our understanding of the Enlightenment as a global, and fundamentally medical, phenomenon. Studying the medicine and medical practitioners of the early French colonies, however, poses unique challenges. These doctors have left us no centralized archive, and they have figured into few historical narratives. To address these shortcomings, I apply a range of digital methods to capture the full scope of the activities of early colonial doctors, including topic modeling, data mining, and mapping. The first aim of this project is to restore colonial medical practitioners to the narrative of Enlightenment medical history. The second aim is to produce a case study for the use of new digital research methods in historical scholarship.

Key publications

The Expert Cook in Enlightenment France, Johns Hopkins University Press, 2011.

“Le design, ça compte (Design Matters)”, in Gilles Rouffineau (dir.), Transmettre l’histoire. Contribution du design à la production des savoirs, Coéditions B42 - ESAD Valence-Grenoble, 2013.

“A Perfect Body of Knowledge: Taste and Digestion in Eighteenth-Century France”, in Sabine Arnaud, Helge Jordheim, Le Corps et ses images dans l’Europe du dix-huitième siècle, Honoré Champion, 2012.

Zotero, Tropy, PressForward

Talk by S. Takats, Paris IAS fellow
20 Jun 2017 09:30 -
20 Jun 2017 11:00,
Lausanne :
Introduction to Digital History
16 Jun 2017 14:00 -
16 Jun 2017 15:30,
Aix-en-Provence :
Enlightenment Networks of Colonial Medical Expertise
06 Feb 2017 14:30 -
06 Feb 2017 17:00,
Toulouse :
La crise épistémologique des humanités numériques
Talk by Sean Takats, Paris IAS fellow
13 Jan 2017 10:00 -
13 Jan 2017 12:00,
Paris :
Vers une nouvelle figure du chercheur ?
04 Nov 2016 14:00 -
04 Nov 2016 15:30,
Florence :
PressForward and Other Digital Tools for Collaborative and Large-Scale Historical Research
Contemporary period (1789-…)
World or no region