Academic Profile: Dr Amelia Bonea
Postdoctoral Research Assistant
I am a historian of South Asia and the British Empire, with a particular interest in the History of Science, Technology and Medicine, and Media History. I have a BLA and MA in Asian Area Studies from the University of Tokyo and a PhD in Modern History from the University of Heidelberg.
My research to date has focused on the ways in which new technologies of communication have been used in various domains of social life and on the relationship between technology and health. My doctoral dissertation, which I am currently turning into a book, investigated the development of English-language news reporting in nineteenth-century India through the prism of "new" technologies such as the electric telegraph and steamers. It questioned dominant narratives of a telegraphy-driven "media revolution" by conceptualizing the nineteenth century as a period of transition and arguing that news in India was a function not only of technology, but also of socio-economic status, imperial imperatives and changing journalistic standards.
After completing my PhD, I joined the Wellcome Unit for the History of Medicine at the University of Oxford to work on a project about disease and mobile phones in urban India. This project used the controversies surrounding the installation of telecom towers on schools, hospitals and residential buildings as a springboard for pondering middle-class environmental activism in India, the role of science in public health policy and the role of the media in disseminating medical knowledge.
Since March 2014, I am a postdoctoral researcher on the ERC funded project "Diseases of Modern Life", coordinated by Prof. Sally Shuttleworth. As part of this project, I am examining medical conditions associated with clerical and office workers in Victorian Britain and colonial South Asia, focusing particularly on ergonomic hazards, but also tuberculosis, cardiovacular diseases and diseases of finance and speculation. My main concerns are to map the range of physical and mental illnesses associated with the office work environment, to understand how new technologies (of writing, communication, transport) generated new risks and fears of diseases, how sedentarism came to be conceived of as a medical risk and how musculoskeletal disorders entered the purview of occupational diseases.