I am an Assistant Professor of History at the University of Texas at San Antonio where I teach courses on European history, the Age of Revolutions, and the history of disasters (on NEH-funded research leave for the 2022 calendar year). I am also a Faculty Affiliate of the Centre for Community Disaster Research (CCDR) at Mount Royal University. I specialize in the history of science, medicine, and the environment, especially catastrophe and crisis management, in eighteenth-century France and the Atlantic World. I have also published on digital history and the future of the historical profession. My work has been featured in The Washington Post, The Atlantic, Stat News, The Miami Herald, and El Nuevo Herald, and I have been a guest on BBC World News, Univision, Al-Jazeera, and others.
My book, The Great Plague Scare of 1720: Disaster and Diplomacy in the Eighteenth-Century Atlantic World (Cambridge University Press, 2023), is a transnational study of the Plague of Provence of 1720 (or “Great Plague of Marseille”), one of the last outbreaks of plague in Western Europe. By tracing responses to the threat of infection throughout a network of major eighteenth-century port cities, I explore the ways in which the crisis influenced society, politics, and commerce beyond France in neighboring regions and in the Atlantic colonies.
My second, shorter monograph is an introductory history on Urban Disasters that will appear in the Cambridge Elements series on Global Urban History (2023). An exploration of the history of urban disasters around the globe over the last three-hundred years, it introduces the reader to central concepts that help define the study of disasters, and examines the relationship between cities and disasters including earthquakes, hurricanes, fires, and epidemics. The book concludes with a brief look at the ongoing effects of climate change and the future of cities.
I am also the editor of a volume on disaster and risk in the Gulf South that was published in January 2018 (publisher’s website & Amazon). In my research and in the classroom, I aim to tie my work to the present as much as possible to emphasize the relevance of historical study in the modern world. This edited volume, then, is a product of these efforts, and of my personal interest in the region in which I grew up.
I have conducted archival research in cities across the Atlantic and parts of the Mediterranean, including Paris, Aix-en-Provence, Marseille, Madrid, Cádiz, Seville, London, Lisbon, Genoa, Rome, Venice, New Orleans, and Washington DC, and I have presented my research at annual meetings for the American Historical Association, the American Association for the History of Medicine, the Society for French Historical Studies, the Consortium on the Revolutionary Era, and others.
Beyond my research and the classroom, I am also co-founder, executive editor, and contributor for the digital academic publication www.AgeofRevolutions.com, which explores themes and moments in the history of revolutions.
A first generation Cuban-American, I was raised in Miami, Florida where I discovered my passion for history and became interested in revolutionary and disaster studies. For more on this, see my AoR post, “The Cuban Revolution & Me.”
Follow me on Twitter @CindyErmus
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