Alex Chase-Levenson (PhD Princeton University) focuses his research and teaching on modern Britain and modern Europe. Broad areas of interest include borders and boundaries in nineteenth-century Europe, the history of travel, histories of liberalism, reform, and public health, and the history of museums and display. His published work has addressed trade, travel, and disease in the nineteenth-century Mediterranean, Victorian spectacle, and perceptions of ancient time in nineteenth-century Britain and France.
His first book project considers Britain’s engagement with the Mediterranean quarantine system in the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Quarantine was imposed on all travelers, traders, missionaries, soldiers, and others traveling from the Ottoman Empire and North Africa to Western Europe well into the modern period. It was justified by the lingering presence of the plague across Europe’s frontiers. To travelers, it was onerous, expensive, and invasive. Mandatory quarantines were dismantled from the late nineteenth century on, but as the current crisis of migrants struggling across Europe’s southern frontiers demonstrates, the border it guarded has a lingering force.
Major emphases of the project include the meaning of quarantine as a border space, its power in creating imaginative geographies of health and disease, its significance in fostering intra-European cooperation, its costs as a barrier for global trade, its role in nineteenth-century medical controversies, and its relevance in imperial and diplomatic histories of the Mediterranean.
Before joining Penn’s department, Chase-Levenson received his PhD in history from Princeton University (2015). He has been the recipient of an IHR-Mellon fellowship and a Henry Fellowship to undertake research and study in the UK.