Field of Study:
Transnational and imperial history; science, technology and medicine; history of expertise; gender and sexuality
Herrick Chapman, Fred Cooper, Guy Ortolano
“Pasteur's Empire: French Expertise, Colonialism, and Transnational Science”
Aro Velmet is a fifth year PhD candidate in the Department of History and the Institute of French Studies. His dissertation looks at the material politics of bacteriological expertise in the French empire. As the Pasteur Institute established laboratories in Indochina, Tunisia, and French West Africa, the management of human-microbe ecologies became a fertile ground for negotiating and challenging French rule in areas ranging from industrial politics, taxation, to race relations and public health. By looking at how French, African, and Vietnamese actors constructed and collapsed boundaries between ecosystems, technologies, and society, this dissertation reveals how bacteriology in transit could both consolidate and challenge French colonialism.
Aro graduated magna cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania in 2010. He has taught research seminars on sexuality and the making of modern states and on histories of the apocalypse. His research has been supported by the Rockefeller Archive Center, the American Historical Association, the Estonian Ministry of Education and Research, and the Michel Beaujour Fellowship, among others. He is a founding member of the Graduate Teaching Collaborative, and editor of the Estonian cultural magazine Vikerkaar. He is the winner of the 2014 Best Article Prize in French History.
Selected Publications and Presentations:
"Beauty and Big Business: Gender, Race, and Civilizational Decline at French Beauty Pageants, 1920-1938", French History 28(1), March 2014, 66-91. “Occupied Identities: Constructing National Identity in Baltic Museums of Occupations,” Journal of Baltic Studies 42(2), Spring 2011, 189-211.