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Edna Bonhomme is a Postdoctoral Fellow in at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin. She was trained as a biologist at Reed College (BA), public health practitioner at Columbia University (MPH), and historian of science at Princeton University (MA, PhD). Her dissertation titled, “Plague Bodies and Spaces: Medicine, Trade, and Death in Ottoman Egypt, 1705-1830 CE,” examined the commercial and geopolitical trajectory of plague and its direct links to commercial, provincial, and imperial policies in several North African port cities.

Edna’s main research interest focuses on the intersection of medicine, migration, trade, and imperialism. Related research interests include historical materialism, scientific institutions, and digital mapping. Her current research traces epidemics, public health, and scientific practice in Algiers, Alexandria, and Tunis and shows how they were linked to European expansion of commerce and colonial power. The transition from the early modern to the modern period produced a particular form of organization and relationship whereby capitalism, European militarization, and Arab medical modernization were linked to the imperative to control epidemics and people. Port cities were particularly subject to that surveillance insofar that states, merchants, and international organizations—in the modern period—systematically tracked goods and people for the sake of managing epidemics.


  • –present
    Postdoctoral Fellow, Max Planck Institute for the History of Science


  • 2017 
    Princeton University, PhD
  • 2010 
    Columbia University, MPH
  • 2006 
    Reed College, BA

Professional Memberships

  • History of Science Society
  • Middle East Studies Association