David Barnes

Wolf Humanities Center Penn Faculty Fellow

20222023 Forum on Heritage

David Barnes

Associate Professor of History and Sociology of Science

David Barnes is Associate Professor of History and Sociology of Science at the University of Pennsylvania. He is the author of The Making of a Social Disease: Tuberculosis in Nineteenth-Century France (University of California Press, 1995) and The Great Stink of Paris and the Nineteenth-Century Struggle against Filth and Germs (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2006), as well as numerous articles about the history, culture, and politics of public health. His third book, a history of Philadelphia’s Lazaretto quarantine station (1799-1895), will be published in early 2023. He has been working since 2006 to preserve the Lazaretto site on the Delaware River in Tinicum Township, and has taught and published about public history and historic preservation. He guest edited an issue of the journal Change Over Time on the interpretation of historic sites related to detention, isolation, and quarantine, to be published in fall 2022.

Storyscapes as Portals Between Past and Present: Epidemics, Immigration, and Marginalization

My historical research on Philadelphia’s Lazaretto quarantine station (1799-1895) has drawn me into the fields of historic preservation and public history. “Heritage”has long been wielded as a tool to bolster the status quo and to exclude marginalized groups from official histories. I have been inspired by recent efforts to redefine heritage and to question traditional conceptions of expertise and curation. Historical outreach that is place-based, community-driven, participatory,and flexiblehas the potential to reenergize and democratize museums, historic sites, and even the teaching of history. I propose to adapt my research on the history of quarantine, epidemics, and immigration to interrogate conventional wisdom on topics such as reparations, health inequalities, and human trafficking through dynamic, open-ended, and creative public history interventions.