How did the “Columbian Exchange” of diseases, plants, and animals influence culture, medicine, and religion throughout the Atlantic basin, and beyond? How does the Scientific Revolution connect to the rise of the global drug trade? How did enslaved and indigenous peoples navigate the pathways of empire, and what role did health and healing play in their self-fashioning and in the roles imposed upon them? These are questions addressed in my PhD research, which I am now turning into a book.

Another strand of my research into involves knowledge networks and the history of globalization. I’ve presented on this topic internationally and am particularly interested in cross-cultural “go-betweens” who mediated between European and non-European societies. To study this question in more depth, I researched the impostor George Psalmanazar and wrote an article about the circulation of his claims that appeared in The Journal of Early Modern History in 2013 (read it here).

I’m also interested in the history of animals and technology, and have published an article called “The Elks Are Our Horses” that explores the role of domestication and the introduction of new species in the North American interior.

 

CURRENT WORK

My book manuscript The Invention of Drugs is my main project at the moment.

 

FUTURE PROJECTS

I have two future book-length projects in mind: an academic history of magic, technology and cross-cultural contact in the early modern world, a book about the entanglement between technological change and occultism from the atomic bomb to the Internet (two early forays into this topic can be read at The Appendix and The Public Domain Review).

 

SELECTED ARTICLES FOR POPULAR AUDIENCES

“Yesterday’s Drugs are Tomorrow’s Medicines” for Aeon

“Victorian Occultism and the Art of Synesthesia” for Public Domain Review

Made in Taiwan?” for The Appendix

An Eighteenth-Century Book of Magic” for Slate

How Three Illegal Drugs Came to Be” for The Atlantic

 

ABOUT THE IMAGE

The header image above shows early modern globalization in action: a watercolor by John White alongside an engraving by Theodore de Bry and a Mughal Indian watercolor painting from the 1630s. Here are the full images, which I’ve written more about here.

Images of a New World: the Watercolors of John White